Branding can help distinguish your business from a sea of lookalikes. If done well, someone with a particular dilemma or a specific need will come to think of your company first, and if you live up to your reputation, they could be become a loyal customer.
Branding helps you build a connection with your customers, because it essentially gives your company an identity. In a lot of ways, it’s like a person. If you build the trust that your company will reliably do as it says and behave a certain way, many people will come to love it and want to continue their relationship.
1. You Haven’t Defined Your Mission
People have often have a vague idea of where they want their business to be. They want their business to be successful, but a mission statement should define that further with a brief statement, explaining why your company exists and its purpose in this world.
You need to define what the goals of your company are for your customers and other stakeholders. What is the core benefit of your business? It’s not so much literal, but aspirational. Microsoft’s mission statement, for example, is “to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”
People use their Microsoft Office software, computers, and other technology to be more efficient in their work and education. They want to be successful and build their career and knowledge all the way to the pinnacle of their fields. Making that connection to what people want to achieve in their lives using the products and services your business offers helps your business plan for the future and builds your brand, illustrating what people should come to expect from it.
2. You Haven’t Defined Your Vision
A vision statement, on the other hand, briefly defines where the company envisions itself to be in the long run. It should emphasize how it plans to grow and overcome challenges through one specific goal. This goal is typically the amalgamation of several short-term goals coming together to reach the final vision.
A vision statement should inspire while explaining where your business plans to go strategically. While the mission statement is focused on those you serve, the vision statement is focused on what your business can do and what improvements it needs to achieve the long-term goals of top management. For example, do you want to be the top accounting software company? What would it take to get there?
It’s about knowing your threats and weaknesses, and building a plan to overcome them. McDonald’s vision statement speaks to this well: “To be the best quick service restaurant experience. Being the best means providing outstanding quality, service, cleanliness and value, so that we make every customer in every restaurant smile.”
It tells you exactly what is expected of a top fast-food restaurant. A defined vision will help you create, market, and promote towards this end goal, improving your overall approach and making brand will be much more easily understood and digested by potential customers.
3. You Don’t Live Up To Your Reputation
Brands are essentially about building up a reputation that your company will abide to, so not living up to it can create another reputation—one of mistrust and doubt. When you prove time and time again that the word of your company is essentially meaningless, word travels fast, and those words will become part of your brand.
We all know businesses like that. You see their commercials and it may become a humorous experience, because the promises made in the commercial were the complete opposite of your experience. You might share it out loud with everyone who’s watching TV with you. That’s how it spreads, slowly but surely.
Don’t make promises to your customer base that you can’t keep. People are far more likely to be loyal the business that shows they can be reliable and do what they say and retaining customers is key to making a profit.
4. You Haven’t Carved out Your Niche
A strong brand can help your company stand out by emphasizing your niche in your brand marketing. Your brand should emphasize your strengths or anything unique to your business that can help draw attention away from your competitors to your company. Strengths don’t just refer to the features, innovation, and quality of your products or services, but how you run your business internally as well. It’s also in how you run your operations.
It’s the atmosphere of your stores, the vibe and information you put on your social, the lengths your company goes to for quality supplies, your logistics and speed of shipping, your specialties and focus, as well as your customer service. Is your business known for being a dependable, well-oiled machine, never missing a deadline or stepping a toe out of line? People should know that, especially if it’s more rare in your industry.
For example, if the well-oiled machine business hopped on their social media and retweeted their customers’ passing comments about how reliable their business is on Twitter, that alone lets people know about their business without them having to say a word. All of these things should become synonymous with your brand, so when people need a business that can come through in a pinch, your company is the first they think of, and when you live up to hype because these are your strengths and come naturally to your business, people will keep coming back.
If you’re struggling to stand out in an industry, instead try to think of a new way to present your company. For example, there are many businesses that do content marketing, but some have turned to more creative ways of getting information out there, like graphic novels or a series of short films, using creative storytelling to convey their brand. It’s something that isn’t as easy to copy when done well and creates a unique user experience.