Monday, April 26, 2010

Five Fundamentals to Building a Better Brand

By Derek Howard
The role of branding is important to every business. It defines not only the product but the company as well. The problem is that sometimes the ideas behind the brand can get a little lost along the way.

At a recent TAG: Recruiting event (Technology Association of Georgia) titled Sharpen Your Brand for Rainmaking, guest-speaker Linda Travis addressed this subject and spoke about how to regain that focus. Travis is the president of The Brand Renovator, a company that specializes in breathing new life into existing companies through rebranding and repackaging. Though her specialty lies in this area, her advice and insights are useful to any company, new or old.

“Everybody has a rainmaking role,” Travis said. In business, rainmaking is basically the ability to attract customers and achieve success. The act of rainmaking is closely tied to that of your brand, and according to Travis, everyone has a brand: personal, company, etc. Travis feels that images such as logos, pictures, even names are not the complete picture of a brand, only evidence. The brand is really a promise; your reputation as a company or individual. Your brand represents not only the product but the perceived value of that product to your customers.

Travis believes that “a strong brand is one that is recognized as delivering a meaningful difference.” People have to have a reason to choose you over your competition. As a company, you must set yourself apart. After all, a stronger brand can demand a higher price. So how do you go about building a strong brand? Travis has created five fundamentals that act as building blocks to better branding.

Fundamental #1: be you-nique. This is a way of saying you need to identify your real difference, your authenticity. This could be anything from a niche market to being first at something; just find it and use it.

Fundamental #2: Focus on your message. People remember specifics. Don’t get bogged down by trying to be good at everything; you’ll just lose your aim. Be specific; find that niche that you do well and focus on it.

Fundamental #3: Address buyer value. This is basically the “So what?” question of your business. Why should a customer care about what you can offer? Rather than just rattle off a list of services, take the time to convey how these services are of value to the customer. If they see the value, they will want you.

Fundamental #4: Tell other people. As Travis said, silence is the death sentence for a brand. You need to be able to explain your product/brand anywhere and anytime, and ultimately to anybody. And keep it as simple as possible. Travis highly recommends imagining explaining your brand to a 10-year-old.

Fundamental #5: Delivering. Be consistent. Once you define what your brand represents, deliver that meaning each and every time you do business or interact with your clients. Consistency is the key to building credibility.

Also remember to balance your personal brand with your company’s. Travis’ advice is to recognize that you have a responsibility to both but the two can work together. By not letting them compete, you can maintain a consistency that benefits you and your business. Your brand, both personal and business is important. It defines who you are and what you are to your customers. As Travis said, “In the end, your brand is what people experience.”

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