There are a number of commonly held myths that are often apparent in businesses – especially to those that are still maturing in terms of their marketing and branding expertise. This article was written in the hope that by recognizing these myths you might be in a better position to seek and embrace a more sophisticated and robust approach to branding within your business.
For many business owners and managers, branding is as mysterious as the meaning of life and makes taxation statements seem like a ‘walk in the park’.
There are many misconceptions that some businesses don’t have the need, resources or ability to brand themselves.
Let’s explore three of the most common branding myths and clear a path for a better understanding of how you can, and why you should, take a proactive and continuous interest in effectively branding your company or organization.
BRANDING MYTH #1: “Branding is only for the Big-Boys with lots of money to throw around”
As a business owner you may believe branding is something only large corporations with big name products and huge budgets can do.
The fact is all companies, irrespective of their size, product offering, or market position need to create, develop and nurture a brand identity.
And critically, the way to build your brand is to start today!
Every large corporation started as a small business at one time or another. Today’s household names such as News Corp, Westfield, QANTAS, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi and many others just like them all started as a humble business with a better idea or a better way of doing things along with their BIG, HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOAL (BHAG).
When these businesses opened their doors nobody had ever heard of them. They were just another unknown start-up looking to make a sale, gain a customer, beat a competitor and survive until the next month.
Sound familiar to you?
Yet each of these companies (and almost every other big company like them) created a brand that steadily evolved as their dream and their company grew.
The common thread they share is they all developed a brand strategy that made them stand out from their competitors in the marketplace. This was their unique value, point of difference or customer proposition they offered the market that their competitors did not possess or could not match.
Creating and communicating your company’s brand strategy, regardless of your size, is just one of the foundations of successful branding.
BRANDING MYTH #2: “If the product or service is right…the customers will follow”
One of the more common branding mistakes is the belief that prospective clients are sitting around just waiting to purchase their product or commit to their service. Confident that what they offer to buyers is the best product available and everyone in the market will be running to them, beating down their doors or accessing their website to make a purchase. And when the customer comes “they’ll come back again and again and again” and the company’s sales will increase exponentially.
Unfortunately, this overconfidence and self-delusion is the downfall of many honest and well-intentioned business owners. They dismiss one of marketing’s fundamental principles: people may buy from you once, but they only become customers (ie: repeat buyers) when they know and trust you.
Launching your website, printing business cards, and placing ads may be acceptable methods of announcing that you are “open for business”. But ‘positioning’ your company in their mind as one they can trust and depend upon requires a great deal more. Today’s consumers are well educated, information rich, busy, and possess the ability to research and choose from many alternatives to your product in the marketplace.
Recognizing your business name is only the first step in a journey that requires numerous brand encounters (customer ‘touch-points’) to build a relationship and develop a trust which will your best source of competitive advantage and longer term success.
To begin this relationship, you must understand your customer, you must first ‘seek to understand’ your customer motivations – and then provide a relevant and salient message that engages them and provides the perception that you can satisfy their immediate, or future needs.
When you make a decision to do more than simply “get your name out there” you will have taken the first step to developing a brand strategy that will deliver branding ‘tactics’ that provide you with the competitive advantage you covet.
BRANDING MYTH #3: “We save on marketing and branding because our product sells itself.”
This is great news for you if your competitors think like this. However, if you buy into this statement you are heading for deep, deep trouble.
No product or service is good enough to sustain growth in a dynamic and highly competitive marketplace without the support of marketing and branding. This is why the ‘big boys’, having achieved their lofty market leader positions, continue to invest millions of dollars each year on maintaining their brand image and as a result, their market share and profitability.
Your product may be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but without consistent branding it will become as stale as last week’s wholemeal.
The one constant in business is change. No matter how good your product or service is, it will face competitors that are aspiring to overtake it. Your target customers are always looking for a better, cheaper, more innovative, more efficient, flexible, better quality way to solve their problem, and your competitors are busy scheming to provide it to them or at least providing the perception that they can through their communications.
It is a serious threat to your business when you choose not to have a brand strategy that drives brand tactics to engage your customers, build a relationship and develop trust. Without branding to protect and defend you, your competitors will attempt to undermine you by supplanting their own engagement tactics and communications so that you becomes less desirable and less relevant to existing or any potential customers.
This is just how it is in a competitive marketplace.
Without branding, you’re providing your competitors with the perfect opportunity to dictate the sales conversation with ‘your’ prospect.
The troubling thing is, you will have little defence against their scurrilous attacks if you have no brand strategy to drive your branding tactics. Tactics that will overcome any engagement gaps, customer doubts, uncertainties and fears that have been placed in their mind by your competitor – and their marketing.
You have handed over control of your brand – and it’s entirely your fault.
The bottom line is:
You must take control of your brand, and therefore control your business destiny.
You must nurture and care for your brand. You must overcome the ‘Branding Myths’ and you must begin your effective branding today – each day wasted is another day before your brand will become robust, recognized and rewarded in the marketplace.
BrandQuest employs a rigorous ‘no-spin’ process to work with you to clarify your brand attributes and personality and then develop dynamic brand strategies that will help you connect with your customers and keep your brand evolving and in front of the competition.