Once you have clearly identified your brand (your vision, mission, values, and company belief systems), what do you do with it? Well, if you place it on your shelf or frame it and forget it, nothing is going to change. However, if you start to apply your brand in the following three ways, you will create a strong and irresistible brand.
Translate your Brand to Behavior
What does your brand look like on a daily basis?
Your brand should be reflected in every element of your business from the most obvious to the most mundane and overlooked.
If you have employees, I recommend you create an opportunity to talk about your brand, one small piece at a time, every day. One company we worked with created an employee award program for employees to recognize other employees when they caught them doing something that truly represented the brand of the company. Another company has five minute stand up meetings every morning and added a minute to the meeting to cover a brand element and ask for examples from staff members. What can you do?
Use your Brand in Decision Making
One of the most important areas to utilize your brand is when making hiring decisions. It’s easier to identify skill sets than to discover if a potential employee is a good culture fit. (Remember your culture is defined by your vision, mission, and values – a subset of your brand.) Therefore, many interviewers just take their chances when hiring and that’s dangerous. One high performer who does not fit the culture can do more long term damage to the company than an under-skilled person who is a perfect culture fit.
As important as the hiring decision is, your brand should also be used to make decisions in the following areas:
You get the idea – your brand should influence every decision you make in your business regardless of size, importance or department. When all decisions are in alignment with your brand, your brand will grow stronger and more attractive.
Review your External Image
The image your project to the world consists of both the visual elements you use as well as the words you choose. To strengthen your brand both elements must be consistent with each other and over time. Examples of elements of your image are as follows.
Here’s how it works. Nancy is the owner of a gym. She is a kick butt kind of trainer who is known for pushing her clients to do a bit more than they think they are capable of accomplishing. And they all love her for it. When she showed me her new business cards they were sea foam green and light blue and made me think of babies. Nancy never saw this until I pointed it out. My advice to her was to toss them and replace them with some kick butt colors. (Yes, it hurts to throw out brand new marketing materials. It hurts even more to have something like your business cards confuse your customer and drive down your sales.)
Like Nancy, many small business owners are so close to the elements of their image that it can be challenging to evaluate them objectively. So, a good practice is to ask both potential and existing customers for their opinion. When talking to others about your brand image, I recommend you use a combination of both specific and open ended questions. For example if someone was looking at your logo you could ask:
Consistent application of your brand is key. Consistency is what makes your brand memorable, commanding, and attractive to your ideal clients. What are you doing today to ensure your brand is consistently applied to all elements of your business?