What About Your Brand?
Often when interviewing a new client, regardless of business size, I will ask the owners and managers about the company’s brand. The questions are always straight forward: Do you have a brand? What is your brand? Do you think having a brand is important? And so forth. The answers are always insightful for me in terms of how the owners and managers view their business, and many times the interview becomes just as insightful for them in terms of recognizing the true power of their company’s brand.
Working with many small and midsized businesses over the years, I would say the number one answer to the question “Do you have a brand?” is “no”. And I’ve always viewed the “no” response as purely comparative. In other words, we’re not Apple, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, IBM or Google (Forbes’ Top 5), so we don’t have a brand.
Well, I ask, “You must have some sort of brand?” And the retort usually leads to a logo, or a tagline, or a brochure.
So, you have a logo … “Do you think having a brand is important?” Rarely, if ever, do I hear a client say, “no”. In fact, more often than not clients suggest that if they had a brand, everything in their business would be rosy.
As you can imagine that’s when the discussion turns to … every company has a brand. And it’s just as big and just as important to your company’s success as it is to Apple, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, IBM, Google, McDonald’s, General Electric, Intel, Samsung and Louis Vuitton (Forbes’ Top 10).
Why? Brand is an experience, an expectation, an end-to-end familiarity with a company. It’s not about size. It’s about alignment. The image your company imparts along every step of the business cycle. That’s why the world’s best-known companies invest endlessly to keep their brands aligned, from their logos to their packaging and everywhere in between. Think about it this way—it is more profitable to invest in building a successful brand than it is trying to change an unsuccessful one.
As a marketing executive, I always stressed alignment in every aspect of my team’s operations. Whether that was related to brand, communications, programs … even in our goal setting. And I encourage this approach with all my clients today.
As a consultant, I always invest in providing my clients with “experienced direction and getting the job done the right way every time”. There is no half-way. My clients know and expect my best, and it comes through loud and clear whenever they introduce me to a prospective new client, and of course, the conversation eventually comes around to brand and alignment with them too.
Using alignment as a way to think about building one’s brand is generally an eye-opener for owners and managers of small and midsized businesses. I have found that it quickly allows them to grasp the correlation between their views of the world’s most-known brands as being the same as their clients’ view of their company.
Sometimes the clincher requires asking them if they think their clients’ views of the most-known brands are any different from theirs. Well then, if you align your brand and business operations to meet your goals, the same as the most-known brands do, it’s a cinch how your clients will view your company!