Your brand identity is your face to the world. It is your reputation and determines whether customers trust your company, products or services. Most important, your brand is your only guarantee of future revenue.
To grasp the importance of your brand identity to future revenue, I have substituted the word ‘weak’ instead of the word ‘strong’ in these sentences:
- Our brand identity is weak.
- Our reputation is weak.
- Customer trust in our products and services is weak.
I would not like to go to market if my customers perceived my company, products and services this way. When you think of brands that quickly come to mind, do you feel any are weak? Probably not. If a brand comes quickly to mind, chances are virtually 100% it’s a strong brand that is uniquely tied to a product or a service. Weak branding quickly fades into the background.
How to know if your company brand identity is weak or strong?
A strong brand is synonymous with the product or service. Example, the word Tide is immediately associated with laundry detergent, and the word Progressive with insurance. This is as true at the local level as it is on the national. In the tri-state area of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, the word Frisch’s is immediately associated with fast casual dining. These are no accidents. A great deal of effort built these brands into powerhouse status. Weak brands are forgettable and unrelated to the company’s mission. If your customers or prospects don’t know what you do, then you need to aggressively rebrand.
Another key indicator of a weak brand is recognition. If your company has been in business for a while, then you should be a familiar face at networking events, conferences and business seminars. If contacts you have made in spaces key to your industry keep asking which company you’re with, this indicates you have a weak brand. The same applies to your sales process. If your sales representatives must continually explain your company and its products and services to prospects, your brand is weak.
In the digital world, business is conducted across a variety of channels. Most companies have a website and a social media presence, and engage in some form of advertising and marketing. A strong brand will harness these different channels with a consistent message, leveraging Paid Media, Owned Media and Earned Media with consistent content that tells their story in a meaningful way. Your website and marketing may be highly professional, but an ill-advised or juvenile social comment can undo years of reputation building. Inconsistent and infrequent messaging weakens the brand.
Your best new customer is an existing customer. Loyalty will always be the cornerstone of a successful brand. But customer loyalty alone does not grow your business. Growing your customer base with new customers is the goal. Failing to attract new customers can happen for a variety of reasons: competition, pricing, quality issues and delivery deadlines, among others. If, however, none of these issues are significant enough to hamper your ability to attract new customers, take a hard look at your brand. You may not be telling your story well.
What can I do to strengthen my brand?
A weak brand does not necessarily mean your business is dead, but it does mean the business needs some resuscitation. Even highly successful companies rebrand to freshen their image. There’s no need to sell the ranch. It’s better to spend a little bit of money to revamp a stale brand than continue to miss opportunities. Here are some basic rebranding opportunities.
The first thing that comes to mind when considering rebranding is a new, flashy logo and updated website. These things will contribute to rebranding success but are not the first order of business. O’Keeffe believes content is king. Telling your story is the very first step. No amount of flashy graphics or slick website design can take the place of creating a message that strikes the heart of what your customer want from you.
Does your messaging resonate with customers and prospects, and is it consistent across all channels? This is the absolute first thing to address. While a graphic designer may tell you to redesign your logo as the first step in rebranding, an award-winning logo will do nothing to tell your story to the right audience in the right channel at the right time with the right message. You can jazz up your logo and website later.
To ensure your messaging resonates, think of the story you want to share with the world about your company, products and services. What is your value proposition? Is yours a story of value, of timeliness, of quality, of price? Then unify your message across all platforms.
Know and target your audience. I once spoke with a prospect who sold fork lift equipment. I asked how he prospected for customers and he replied he advertised in a major league baseball stadium. I’m pretty sure of the 40,000 people in attendance at the game, maybe one or two might be interested in buying a forklift. Maybe not. Do not cast a wide net if your customers represent a small segment.
At the end of the day, a well-crafted message delivered with consistency and frequency to a targeted prospect offering a needed value will lead the way to branding success.
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