Recently I wrote about the real value in your value proposition to help small businesses determine what it is they offer and why their market needs it. Now we need to turn our attention to discovering and establishing a strong business brand.
Your Business Brand – Personality, Expertise and Values
A strong brand clearly communicates your values, establishes credibility and brings to mind a positive emotion or feeling about your company, having a powerful impact on whether someone wants to work with you. Your brand should:
- Project everything you are, the value you deliver and the total client experience. Every image you project, from your visual brand identity, location, office furnishings and the way your staff answers the phone, needs to accurately reflect your business attributes.
- Communicate the personality of your business clearly, visually and promote credibility. It shapes clients’ perceptions of you and conveys the expectations and promises that you extend to your clients in terms of quality, service, reliability and trustworthiness.
- Helps the audience differentiate you from your competitors. This differentiation will attract those that have a need and positively influence their decision to hire you, directly impacting your profitability.
How do you determine your business brand?
Before you start to develop your brand identity (the visual representation of your brand), you need to define your brand so that you can project the value you provide to your target audience.
- Be clear on the purpose of your business. What made you start your business in the first place? This purpose – the emotional connections you make with those you help – is why some people naturally want to work with you and not someone else. For example, a business coach may have the following:
As a business coach, my purpose is to enrich the lives of business owners by helping them discover, develop and maximize their abilities and assets, resulting in enhanced personal and professional growth which yields higher productivity, better quality of life and higher and profits.
- Determine the values that are core to your business. People are attracted to businesses whose values reflect their own, therefore, by incorporating your values throughout your communication, you build an emotional connection with people and influence how they interact with you.
A good example of a company that has identified and communicated their values is Zappos. If you look at their 10 core values, they live and breath them through everything they do. They “deliver WOW through service and value being fun and being a little weird”. Figure out what your core values are and deliver on them continuously.
- Identify your top personality attributes that people associate with your business. If the personality your business projects today is not what you think it is, you could be projecting a personality that is wrong for the audience you serve, the market you’re targeting and where you want to be in the future.
Remember the Mac vs. PC ads? Apple portrayed the PC as old, stuffy and difficult to use while the Mac was innovative, stylish, intuitive, cool and friendly. (View all 66 Ads that ran from May 2006 to October 2009).
- Determine your core strengths and make them the essence of your brand. Focusing on what you do best helps create trust because you are more likely to live up to your promises. Trying to be the expert at too many areas will water down your messages and cause you to be “me too” or too generic to effectively stand out.
One way to focus is to become an expert in one area of your business such as helping independent professionals develop their personal brand, being the best search engine optimization consultant or personal trainer for student athletes. Another way to focus is to pick a specialized target market to work with such as providing business coaching for fitness instructors, marketing services for chiropractors or an image consultant to plus sized women. That doesn’t mean you don’t have other areas you work with, but you are known for one thing very well.
When you clearly define these four areas, you can then develop a brand that consistently projects your personality, values and expertise. The effort is a long-term commitment, but when your brand matches the needs of your target, the end results are rewarding for both your business and your customers.
How does your brand help you stand out from your competition? Share your personality, values and expertise with us in the comments.