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FACT: People do business with brands they can relate to and trust.

Brands are like people. People make friends with those they have things in common with and brands work the same way. For your brand to be successful, you need to be mentally on the same page as the customers you want to sell to.

Branding is about the total customer experience. It’s not just about everything you do that puts you in front of the customer, it’s also about everything the customer thinks you do. Remember, the customer is building a story about you in his or her mind and passes that story on to others.

It’s your customer who owns your brand, not you. Because it’s not what you say it is, it’s what they say it is.

You have many opportunities in any mass market to brand yourself. But you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you simply copy the market leader. Brand marketing is about creating or mastering a niche. You do not want to be a “one size fits all” brand because there’s no money in that. You’ll just be wasting your time and energy.

Having a strong brand is even more important to the small or new business because the volume of business required to support your financial needs is not made available simply because you exist.

To become something with your business, to be an object of desire (that translates into sales of your product or service), you need to differentiate yourself from the herd. And you must create customer connection. Then you must inspire the prospective customer to choose you over all other options. You do that by creating a wonderful experience for them.

Formula for trust

The formula for trust is t = r + d or trust = reliability and delight.

That’s what you must deliver each and every time. When you create a powerful experience and deliver it better than anyone else, you compel the customer to buy from you. Regardless of what you charge and what else is available to them.

Building a strong brand will pay off forever if you manage it correctly. Consistency is the key.

Understand that brands are measured in two dimensions:

  1. the level of intimacy you have with your customers
  2. your level of stature in the minds of your customers

You drive and build the strength of your brand by:

  1. how well you’ve organized your central thoughts about your brand
  2. the personality of your brand
  3. the values your brand represents
  4. how you dress it up and present your brand to the world
  5. the emotional benefits your brand provides, and
  6. the hard benefits your customers receive from your brand

Investing this effort in developing your brand has big payoffs for you that go far beyond sales revenue.

Benefits of a strong brand

A strong brand:

  • increases the value of your business
  • helps you create customer loyalty
  • helps you attract new customers more easily
  • allows you to charge premium prices for your products and services
  • makes you more attractive to joint venture partners
  • helps you improve the effectiveness, efficiency and economy of your internal business management processes, and
  • it can even reduce your expenses and strengthen supplier relationships.

So there are lots of good reasons to make sure you get this right.

The strongest relationships are not with things but with other people. Your brand can be such a person: someone respected, admired and loved. In its strongest form, you’ll be the leader of a loyal tribe (that’s what you’re hoping to build), an A-lister, and seen as a mover, shaker and shaper of the market in which you are competing. Once you achieve that you’ll not only be the best choice for your customers, you’ll be the only choice!

What actions can you take today to improve the positioning of your brand?