Your brand is at your core. A simple slogan that adorns our website, our business cards, even our invoices. But what does it mean and why do we say it?
It’s a conversation starter that gets our clients asking the question, why should I make room in my busy day to develop my brand? Identifying and developing your brand is the most important step towards launching, sustaining, and growing your business. Your brand is what you are selling, not your product. Whether you are a retailer or a service provider, a nonprofit or an educational institution, your brand is at your core.
Let me give you an example:
Suzy Q has a passion for baking and coffee. Everyone loves her homemade pastries and her knowledge of coffee is unrivaled amongst her friends and colleagues. It was clear to Suzy that she could build a brand around her great baking recipes- selling cakes, donuts, and more. She found a great opportunity with a prime real estate location on Main Street and opened Suzy Q’s Donuts & Coffee. She saw moderate success over the first 2 years, selling delicious coffee and tasty donuts.
Suzy wore all the hats- head baker, cashier, cleaning crew and more. She always had a smile on her face and gave excellent customer service. There was always a steady stream of customers hanging around. Foot traffic provided a decent revenue stream that covered her bills, but to get to the next level Suzy realized she needed to get out of the bakery to start running her business.
She promoted her top employee, Ben, to manage the day-to-day operations and began to pay more attention to the big picture. She ran her marketing campaign, fine-tuned her books to maximize revenue, and started writing a business plan to expand to a new location. She stressed the importance of sticking to the recipes and trusted her bakers. Suzy was confident that her business was ready to take off.
She was happy enough with Ben’s work as manager. The storefront wasn’t as clean as her standard, but Ben had a lot on his plate. Her employees were stretched thin, you could see it on their faces at the register. Suzy stood behind her brand of delicious pastries and coffee and knew that once her big picture developed, revenues would increase, and all of her problems would work out.
After a few months she noticed revenue began to drop - the steady foot traffic was slowing to a drip. Why was her business beginning to fail? She felt her brand, delicious coffee and tasty donuts, was still strong. She was confident with her bakers and knew that the quality was still there.
It wasn’t until she ran into a friend who admittedly stopped going to Suzy Q’s that she realized what was wrong. Her friend still enjoyed the product, the donuts were great, the coffee, delicious. But the experience had soured since Suzy left to deal with the big picture. The cashiers were grouchy and sassy, the tables sticky from previous customers.
Suzy realized then that her brand wasn’t the best coffee and tastiest donuts. That was just the surface of her product. Her brand was her core values. Her dedication to smiling at her customers and saying thank you, her commitment to thoroughly wiping down each table, her overwhelming desire to provide a community space where friends could share an experience over a donut and a cup of coffee.
Suzy began to focus more on her brand and less on her product. The product would take care of itself, the brand needed help. She trained her employees on customer service best practices. She refined her menu to reflect her commitment to quality and retargeted her marketing efforts to reflect what her donuts represented, not what they provided.
Your brand is more than a logo and a color scheme. Your brand weaves in and out of every part of your business or organization. It radiates from your core to every facet of your company; from customer service, to product development, to management. When you identify your brand, it will take on a life. So, go do it.
Need help identifying your brand? Let us to help you discover!