“Any damn fool can put on a deal, but it takes genius, faith and perseverance to create a brand.” – David Ogilvy
We all want to create good feelings, strong emotions and attract positive customer reactions to our business services and products.
One of the best ways to attract customers to your business is through branding.
What is branding?
Think Disney, Coca-Cola, Domino’s. What enters your mind? (Mickey rules!)
A brand is an image. That image helps to differentiate your business or even you personally in the marketplace. You can have a positive or a negative image.
What’s a negative brand? Well think Wall Street in the middle of the recession or Lehman Brothers. A poor brand image is one that crates a negative reaction when people think about a business or business activity.
You might be thinking that you are just one single, lonely marketer trying to make a living. But even a sole proprietor or home based entrepreneur wants to create a strong positive brand to attract positive responses.
Brands evoke emotional responses and mental images. They make people feel something about what’s behind the brand. People trust a brand they become familiar with. That is you.
What’s behind a strong positive brand?
• Excellent customer service
• Quality products or services
• Skills that make you unique among a crowd of retailers or service providers
• Experiences that make it possible to relate to customers on their level
• Honesty and truthfulness
• Name repetition and exposure
The last category is where so many internet businesses destroy their brand image. The make-a-million-in-a-month crowd is not being honest. Customers who fall for the hype and end up with broken promises and disappointment to show for their money forever more have bad memories they will call up when the business name or huckster is mentioned.
It dictates that you create a truly authentic brand that is consistent when used in any marketing material. With a positive brand image you know that customers reading your copy or listening to what you have to say are receptive and willing to accept information from you from a vantage point of trust.
Think about how much easier it is to sell to someone who trusts you than it is to sell to someone doubting your veracity. A positive brand reflects a positive self-image and authenticity. And, remember – positive thoughts create a positive reality.
Ask yourself these questions when you see a product. For example, what do you think when you see the Apple (Steve Jobs) logo? What do you think when you see it? Do you think reliable personal computer? Stunning graphics? Amazing technology? (iPhone, iPad), Reliable customer service? Trend setting products? If you don’t have a positive image then ask yourself, why? Was it due to a faulty product you had trouble exchanging? A rude customer service representative?
There are multiple tools you can use to brand yourself even when a one-person business.
If you are a single-person operator, use these branding tips:
- Use words that reflect your passion for what you sell or do
- Include personal information relative to your business in your marketing material such as your passion for good health or technology; an explanation of your special skills and expertise; or a description of why customer service is so important to you
- Be authentic and don’t try to be Billy Mays when you are really low key like Bill Gates of Microsoft fame; people are attracted to those who are comfortable in their own skin
- Elaborate on how your particular talents, skills and creativity can bring value to a customer’s life
- Maintain brand consistency whether you are printing flyers, posting a blog or developing a website
Once your customer tries your product, their experience is the brand story.
Even though you may have set high expectations via your marketing materials and sales letters (read Seth Godin: “All markers are liars”).
If you can’t tell the truth, fix the experience, and make it a great one.
I’m working on this myself, and it never stops. Neither should you.
- Branding is built on trust (customerthink.com)
- Marc Lesser: The Personal Branding Paradox: Being Nobody (huffingtonpost.com)
- Target Your Brand (libraryjournal.com)