Every aspect of your organization helps create your brand, and your brand is the one factor that can take the value of your organization well beyond the tangible value of your client roster or inventory. Combine these two facts, and you quickly can understand the expression, “Your brand is everything.”
First, let’s make sure that we are all using the same definition of the term “brand.”
An organization’s brand is the cumulative result of all interactions that audience members have with and about your organization.
In many ways, your brand is your organization’s reputation. It’s what people think of when they hear or see your name.
Everything Goes Into Your Brand.
There’s no way anyone could make a list of everything that’s part of your brand. The list would go on for pages and pages. However, here’s a list that gives a pretty good idea of the many factors that help your audience members define your brand.
- Your name
- Your logo
- Your website
- Your social media presence
- The quality of your products and services
- The range of products and services you offer
- Your business cards, letterhead, etc.
- Your advertising campaigns
- Your pricing
- Your position in a Google search
- The music playing in your store/office
- The philanthropic efforts of your organization
- Your brochures
- The appearance of your e-mails
- The appearance (and smell) of your store or office
- Your signage
- How your employees dress
- News stories about you, your competitors, or your industry
- The quality of customer service your people provide
- The reputations and brands of your vendors, suppliers, partners, and subcontractors
- Your customer satisfaction levels
- Your brand advocates
- The professional and personal reputations of your leaders
- The offerings and reputations of your competitors
- How quickly you respond to clients
- How difficult or easy it is to work with your organization
- Your location and neighbors
- How you answer the phone
- The appearance of and types of vehicles in your fleet
- The reputations of your current and former customers or clients
- The engagement and satisfaction level of your employees
- The product and service knowledge of your people
- The design of your proposals, statements of work, invoices, etc.
As you can see, the factors that culminate in your overall brand are many, and it can be very easy to overlook some of these details when you are trying to build your organization’s strong brand. However, overlooking any one of these details can be hazardous to your organization’s brand and overall success.
The key to having a strong brand is first to define your Desired Brand, your Brand Essence, and your Brand Promise. (Possible topic – or three topics – for another blog post at a later date.)
Next, you need to look at every single aspect of your organization – with special attention paid to those aspects that involve, or could involve, a current or potential client. With every aspect, ask yourself, “Is this exuding our Brand Essence?” and, “Does this deliver on our Brand Promise?” If not, change it.
Every detail of your organization that does not support your brand is one more obstacle you need to overcome in your sales and marketing efforts…if you can.
For example, if your desired brand includes that you care about your clients on a personal level, but you have a cumbersome and impersonal voice-prompt system that answers your phones, people are going to have a hard time believing that you really care. If part of your brand is that you are on the cutting edge of style, design, and trends, but your employees all wear out-of-date or sloppy clothes, potential customers are going to have a hard time believing that you can help them.
Look at everything. Overlook nothing. Because it all counts.
Your Brand = Your Value
If your mother didn’t say it you, you probably heard some rerun sit-com mom say it to her rerun sit-com daughter. “All you have is your reputation.” Well, that sentiment is just as true for your organization. All you have is your brand.
Your inventory will come and go. Technical advancements, competitive pressures, or consumer trends will cause you to alter your product and service offering. Clients will sign on and go away. But at the end of it all, the thing that will allow your organization to survive, the thing that clients are hiring, and the thing that potential buyers will be interested in acquiring is your brand.
And if you’re a non-profit, consider the fact that people are donating to your brand just as much as – if not more than – they are donating to your cause.
A strong brand is also what allows organizations to successfully extend their brand to new products or services. People trust new products and services from brands they already know and trust.
Because Apple/Mac had a brand reputation as being the computer of choice for the creative and entertainment industries, it allowed them to market the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Because Nike had a brand reputation for quality athletic footwear, they were able to successfully market athletic and fashion clothing. Because WalMart had a reputation for selling consumer goods at low prices, they were able to successfully sell groceries to the same audiences. Accounting firms across the country first developed strong reputations for providing financial advice, and extend that brand equity to provide other types of business counsel.
And the ability to create brand extensions is just one example of the power of a strong brand.
It’s your strong brand that enables an organization to attract new customers and retain current ones. It’s your unique brand that attracts the right employees. It’s your respected brand that allows your organization to price your products or services higher than your competitors. In short, it’s your brand that has value to you, your people, your clients, your prospects, and any potential buyers.
So, yeah, your brand is everything.