Small business owners sometimes say their business can’t be a brand because it’s too small. When they hear the word ‘brand’ they’re thinking of companies like Pepsi, Apple, Google, McDonalds, Natwest etc.
But what they don’t realise is that every company whether that be a multinational corporation or one-man-band, is a brand.
And the first step to truly effective marketing is to recognise this fact – and actively embrace it.
Why do I say this?
Because when you’ve done a close analysis of your brand – taken it to the shrink, so to speak – you’ll have a detailed and accurate picture of all that your brand is and the marketing and promotion side will just fall neatly into place.
I’ve been involved in this process often enough to know that this is how it works.
The visual below might look like a mish-mash of boxes and arrows, but it’s actually a very useful way to think about and map the brand development process.
The four columns can be described as ‘the what’,’ the who’, ‘the how’ and the ‘who else’.
So from the left, who we work for – ie our customers.
Then going across, what our company does, how it does it – and who else does what we do.
It’s a good overview which we will come back to again and again.
But for now, let me take you on what I’ve evolved as a tried and true step-by-step guide to brand development.
What if my company was a person?
Imagine what your company would be like if it was a person, looking at the extent to which it matches some defined personality traits, on a scale of 1 to 5.
Such things as formal/casual, detailed/broad brush, leader/follower, introvert/extravert and so on. Each team member then gets to pick 5 key brand personality traits from an extensive list.
The moment when we compare our answers is invariably pretty wonderful, because there is almost always a very interesting convergence of ideas.
And from this you can then draft a brand personality statement for all to agree to.
This statement then becomes your starter for everything that follows. How so?By isolating each of the agreed brand personality traits and brainstorming all of the specific ways that they are evidenced in the day-to-day work of the business. The more specific these observations are, the better.
What do our actions say about what we believe?
The brand personality statement now leads us to develop a statement of core values.
This will form the basis for just about everything else in this process. So we ask ourselves: what does each of these specific day-to-day instances of our brand personality in action say about what we believe?
This question will generate a wide-ranging and disparate set of statements which you will find, when processes, come together into several discrete areas, each of which represents a belief pillar.
And once we have these pillars in place, we can break them out into more meaningful statements.
So now, we begin to express specific activities or actions as values or beliefs. The beauty of this process lies in its integrity.
This is about being true to ourselves as an organisation. ‘To thine own self be true’ indeed!
Because when we proceed to act according to our espoused values, we’ll find it impossible to act with anything other than integrity.
How’s this going to help our customers?
The next stage is probably my favourite part of the whole process: how do our customers benefit from what we believe?
Why is it my favourite part?
Because it leads us inexorably into a deep understanding of our USP – and with it a sharper focus of who our competitors really are.
When all this is clearly appreciated and understood, the copy concepts and ideas will flow naturally, without the brain ache that businesses often experience.