17 Dec Do People Like You?
Reputation matters. It’s important that you do everything possible to establish and reinforce a positive brand
Are you a Coke person or a Pepsi person? Each brand carries weight and chances are everyone you talk to will have an opinion about which is better. The fact is, Coke and Pepsi spend a lot of money and intellectual resources to reinforce their brands so that people “like” them. Now, let’s talk about you and your company. What do people think of you? What’s the industry perception of your company? It matters.
Now that you’re thinking about your brand, let’s look at how you can make it even better. In my view, dynamic messaging plays a vital role in the development of a unique brand identity.
The challenge for companies to develop this dynamic messaging is magnified by the fact that often times during challenging market conditions, marketing budgets are one of the first to be cut. Therefore, when innovative product and service offerings are delivered to the marketplace, the proper positioning of the offering does not exist; creating more noise, less differentiation and even fewer sales opportunities.
What people fail to recognize is that perception is often reality. A company’s prospective clients should immediately recognize the value proposition behind dealing with that vendor. You don’t just want to be one vendor among many; you want to be the No. 1 vendor in your space.
Brand/Product Positioning defines how companies will differentiate themselves and their offerings in the marketplace while building value for their specific target audiences. This impacts how others view that company’s products and services. It is critical to have a dynamic brand message that clearly differentiates your company and its products and services from the competition – and one that portrays your company’s and your product’s unique identity.
Dynamic Brand/Product positioning sets the foundation for the messaging that will be used in all interactions within the marketplace. This foundation enables companies to differentiate themselves by delivering consistent messaging in all communications, whether it is on the company’s web site, marketing material, sales presentations, press release, etc. This differentiation will help drive demand in the market for that company’s products and services.
When companies look to differentiate, they often focus on features and functions that they think are cool. That’s a mistake. Why? The dynamic messaging should focus on what’s in it for the prospect not how great the vendor thinks it is.
What business value is this product or service bringing to the market and why is that the best solution for the prospect?
In an article entitled “8 Brand Strategies that Set You Apart from Competition” by Robert Marshall, he says, “The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers”.
“Therefore, it is important to understand that branding is not just about getting your target customer to choose your product or service over your competitors, but it is also about convincing your prospects that you are the only one that can provide the best solution to their problem.
It’s not easy to build a brand. Quite frankly, building a brand is an ongoing process where the main objective is to emphasize the differences between your company, product or service from your competitors.
It’s what you stand for, a promise you make, and the image you convey.
But it’s also very important that you take this task seriously. Whether you are a B2C or B2B company, good branding strategy helps you stand out from your competition. Your brand must consistently and repeatedly tell your prospects and customers why they should buy from you.
To circle back to my earlier thought, think of companies like Coke or McDonalds. Right away you envision their logo, but their branding will take you way beyond that. When you think of Coke, words like refreshing, happy, fun, magical come to mind. The same with McDonalds; right away you think of kids, fun, clown, happy, playground. How many times when you need a tissue, do you find that you will ask for Kleenex? That is successful branding!
Successful branding also creates “brand equity” – the amount of money that customers are willing to pay just because it’s your brand. In addition to generating revenue, brand equity makes your company itself more valuable over the long term.
By defining your brand strategy and using it in every interaction with your market, you strengthen your messages and relationships.
Tips To Use
Here are 8 brand strategy principles detailed by Marshall that he recommends to achieve business success:
- Define your brand – Authenticity, core purpose, vision, mission, position, values and character.
- Your brand is your business model – challenge your business model to maximize the potential within your brand.
- Stay consistent – Consistency in your message is the key to differentiate.
- Connect on the emotional level – a brand is not a name, logo or a website; those are only the tools. Sell people something that satisfies not only their physical needs but their emotional needs and their need to identify themselves to your brand.
- Stay relevant and flexible – Successful brands don’t cling to the old ways just because they worked in the past; instead, they try to re-invent themselves to keep up with technology, economy, and changing needs of the consumers.
- Get active in your community – Community is a powerful and effective platform on which to engage customers and create loyalty towards the brand.
- Be aware of competition – Even if you have the most innovative, highly desirable product, you can expect new competitors with a superior value proposition to enter your market down the road.
- Practice brand strategy thinking – Do not just settle for the choices currently available, but try to think outside the box.
He goes even further to say that having an effective brand strategy will bring clarity and meaning to your brand so you can focus on making, creating, and selling things that people actually care about.
You have competition. We all have competition. If you’re a vendor, lenders have less money to spend, that means you need to prove that your technology is essential. You don’t want to be just one out of 100 LOS systems, you want to be the LOS of choice, for example. How do you do that?
Develop a brand that means something to the market so when lenders are looking into things like compliance, as they all are, they know that your LOS offers the best, most automated compliance approach.
This advice doesn’t just apply to vendors. Lenders are competing feverishly for every deal. Credit is tight and there are fewer borrowers out there, we all know that. So, why should a borrower work with you? If you can’t answer that question, you have work to do.
So, let’s all think real hard about industry perception and what our brand means. Once you get that feedback from the market, work to improve your brand. Good branding can be the difference between getting and losing many deals.
Published In Tomorrow’s Mortgage Executive, Business Strategies, December 2011