Your brand is far more important than your product or service. How a buyer or customer perceives you in the mind far outweighs what is already expected in your service. We all expect quality products and great service. Ask anyone what makes them special and the answer is typically something generic of this sort. There is nothing special about this claim. You are supposed to deliver on these promises or you should not even be around. What is important is whether your brand convinces an inundated marketplace of inattentive buyers that what you offer truly is special. Here are four brand marketing strategies to focus on today that breaks through the noise.
Define Your Category Specifically And Narrowly
Being broad in your categorization is a losing strategy. It opens the door for comparison. If you say you are a car dealer, then you are generic in the mind of the buyer. If you specialize in exotic European cars, then you are in a category of few. If you are the premier Ferrari dealer in the southwest region of Texas, then you are special.
Your category will either dilute you in the mind of the buyer or specialize you. Being special affords you the opportunity to position with expertise. There is not a lot to comparison shop with. At AscendWorks, we define our category as the leading inbound marketing strategy consulting company. We have not met anyone who puts the process of lead generation, lead nurturing and lead conversion together in an integrated process and strategy as we do. It is a narrow category in which we are the leader. We have mastered it over years and our customers understand this brand.
You are always asked what you do. Be sure to use the opportunity to be specific and narrow in your definition. If you are being compared in the mind of your customer, then listen carefully and further refine your definition.
Brand By Leadership
If everyone needs what you offer, then you better be the leader. The leader is the perceived expert and first in the category. Establishing leadership today is done with content and PR. Are you talked about and are you written about? The reason is that our fingers do the walking today. We search for what we are looking for. We are looking for authority, credibility and leadership when we buy.
The world is not fair or balanced. It is highly imbalanced. You do not recall who took fourth at an Olympic event, PGA golf tournament or Grammy awards. The first place winner is disproportionately lauded and celebrated. First is the brand leader.
Thus, if you define your category narrowly and you are the leader, then your position in the mind of the buyer affords you disproportionate attention. This is even more important today. With the internet, the imbalance is further wedged between number one and two. Facebook, Twitter and Amazon get to take the spoils of their respective categories. They are first. Second is not even known well. Their leadership amplifies their winnings.
Likewise, your opportunity to be the leader should be a primary strategy to position your brand. Leadership is not cheap. It is hard work and a relentless push towards positioning with authority. The prize is worth it.
Provide Meaning For Your Brand
When I say your brand, I should have clarity about its meaning. We use phenomenal brands in our vocabulary.
“Pass me a Kleenex.”
“Can you Xerox that?”
“FedEx it to me today.”
Millions of dollars have been spent to use these simple names as part of our lexicon. They become verbs, adjectives and proper nouns.
as-cend-works [uh-send-wurks], n. the leading inbound marketing strategy consulting company.
Everything you do in your marketing is to create meaning for your brand. The colors, content, work, service is to drive the shorthand definition in the mind of the buyer and help your customers tell others the meaning of your brand simply.
It used to be that marketers could throw dollars at you to drive this meaning. Today, your market will respond with your hard work in content, social media and relentless work on your systems for driving your brand definition. Consistency and clarity is key. Your products and services merely reinforce the idea you germinated in my mind. Ensure your marketing systems are set up to position you and define you specifically.
Keep Brands Separate
Zappos sells shoes. Apple sells consumer computer devices. If Zappos starts to sell what Apple sells and vice-versa, then there is brand confusion. They would both be disadvantaged. In our minds, we know Zappos for what they do and Apple for what they do. If they wanted to enter into new markets, it is better to narrow the category and create a new brand, otherwise, they dilute the power of their own brand in our minds.
It is a lot of work to maintain many brands, much less just one. If your products or services compromise clarity about one brand offering, then do not meld them together. Protect the definition of your brand and build a new one.
Think about the buyer. Buyers think simplistically. We use shorthand and stereotypes. Grasping something like a hybrid motor scooter and bike only compromises our own thoughts. It is heavy like a scooter and light like a bike? It is great at nothing, then. Your own brand is that important. It needs uncompromising focus, definition and leadership to win in the mind of the buyer. Don’t compromise.
Branding Is The Strategy
You want both – a quality product or service offering and a remarkable brand. They’re not a trade-off. There are numerous stories of great products and services that fail. Look at the reason. It is a poor brand. Being great but not being perceived as great means losing in business. Being the purist and insisting on your intrinsic value misses the customer completely. We can’t make prospects buy. They buy based on their perceptions and emotions when they pick you or your competitor. They buy the brand.
What is your brand and how would you like to be known with your customers? Feel free to comment below.