Your Brand Defines You.
You can stand out like a sore thumb or you can stand out like a ROCKSTAR, but at the core of your business, you must stand out with a unique position in the marketplace. Fitting in just won’t do in 2018.
First, What Sets You Apart?
Start by making a list of 10 ways you are unique. Then, make a checkmark next to each one that is unique to you, and different from your competitors. Now, narrow these down by circling the ones that truly matter to your audience. As you narrow it down to one or two reasons that are different and important to your audience, ask yourself, why is this important? What does it provide them? What emotion is behind this critical part of my business? This is the point of difference that we you want to build on.
A company sells software that is configurable, easy-to-use, low-cost with a monthly subscription model, and fully secure. All of these features might be important to your audience, but are any of these unique to your company? Upon further discovery, you realize you offer security features that are truly different from your competitors. When asking why it matters, you share it’s because the software contains thousands of data points and critical information about financial, operational, and sales data for thousands of customers. The software is more than a tool for tracking data, the software is also a tool for protecting this data. You then point to the fact that the software is proprietary and only modified by developers at your company. Rather than positioning your brand as the lowest cost provider, or as the easiest to use, you now position your brand as the software that safeguards the most critical operational and financial data. This positioning helps your audience sleep better at night knowing their data is secure – more secure with you than with any other competitor.
Once you complete your positioning exercise and differentiation tactics, draft a market positioning statement that will serve as the foundation of your brand. This process takes time and must be carefully crafted so that it is concise, clear, and compelling.
Second, How Can You Help Your Brand STAND UP?
Before you can stand out, you must stand up – own who you are, to whom you serve, and the value you provide. Standing up is the process of aligning your brand internally before you can communicate it externally. You may look like your competitors, but what influences your audience to choose you? Determine what sets you apart so your employees are proud and confident to stand up for who you are and what you believe in. This process starts with an internal assessment of what your employees currently think and say about your company. This process should also involve interviews with your existing customers to understand how they view your brand and reputation. Does this align or differ from the view of your employees? How? Why?
Your brand should influence the hearts and minds of your audience, but to do this, you’ll need to make certain that your employees understand and commit to your brand’s new way of thinking. For internal guidance, employees can reference a Brand Standards Guide. This contains every detail about your brand, and should be continually updated as elements develop over time.
To help employees communicate with customers more effectively, a Persona Guide should be developed following customer interviews. This guide will help employees understand the different segments of your audience, their attitudes, buying behaviors, motivators and communication preferences.
Often, resistance comes when people are asked to change their way of thinking. Having a Brand Standards Guide and Persona Guide will help your employees understand the reasoning behind your changes and adapt to change. Change isn’t easy, but helping your employees understand how the market is changing, how you’re adapting, and how they will benefit from this change will prepare them to serve as your most important catalyst to communicate your brand. The change in market positioning may not be radically different, but it will be more focused and your staff will be more aware of how to connect with your audience.
Third, Allow Your Brand to STAND OUT
The process of standing out includes HOW you guide your audience to see your brand for the unique benefit it provides them. As you position your brand in the hearts and minds of your target audience, you will confidently comprehend who you are, what you stand for, and why it matters to your audience. Standing out takes vision and courage to communicate your brand externally, while focusing on the meaning behind the products and services you sell. In the example, the software company who now focuses on their unique security features, modifies their marketing message to reflect how people feel when they choose their product. Empathy goes a long way – when customers feel like they’re being understood, they are more likely to buy.
To help reinforce this message, you may choose to change or create a benefit focused tagline. A new tagline on its own won’t solidify a changed perception, but it can set the stage. You may also need to refresh the brand identity, i.e. logo, wordmark, etc. Working with marketing experts will allow you to assess the brand’s overall identity and messaging and determine what brand recommendations to act upon now, as well as down the road. You will benefit from creating a strategic plan that determines what brand elements will help best tell your story to your target audience.
In summary, own your brand in 2018! Set yourself apart strategically –internally align with external perceptions, have a strategic plan to communicate your brand’s story, and don’t forget a benefit-focused message to your target market. Set apart, stand up, and STAND OUT!
Get Started Now!
Take the first steps in assessing your brand by downloading our Brand Position Worksheet