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Defining Your Brand

What is your message? Who do you want to be and why is it important to your audience?

I often ask dealers to consider why anyone should buy from you. This question is designed to encourage you to explore what value you have to offer your customer base and why it was important to your audience.

Pete Baker ([email protected]) is president of The BIG Corp, a sales and marketing representative and consulting firm.

But it is equally important to understand who you are, what you offer, and how potential customers will benefit from working with you. Once you define and understand the answers to these three questions, you should clearly communicate this to your audience and define the way you go to market with your product or service.

Step 1: Who Are You?

In business, your company image is defined as your “brand.” It is further described by the Business Dictionary as “Unique design, sign, symbol, words, or a combination of these, employed in creating an image that identifies a product and differentiates it from its competitors.” A great way to begin understanding who you are is to define your core values and a mission statement. Let’s consider each separately:

Mission Statement: This is really the starting point to determining who you are as a company–why do you exist? What benefit(s) do you offer your target audience? In other words: why did you go into business in the first place? What problem did you hope to solve? How did you plan to do it better than other knuckleheads you saw doing it already? Here are a few examples from some successful businesses:

■ Google: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
■ Amazon: “To be Earth’s most customer-centric company where people can find and discover anything they want to buy online.”
■ Starbucks: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit–one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.”

Core Values: I think of this as your company’s constitution, or Ten Commandments, that drives all decisions. What are the most important dos and don’ts that will drive all key decisions within your company? I would suggest starting simple, with key principles. Defining the company’s core values provides better clarity to your mission, unites the team, and provides leadership direction for everyone to follow on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, to successfully achieve your mission.

It is important to understand who you are, what you offer, and how potential customers will benefit from working with you

Step 2: What is Your Brand Personality?

Your brand personality is described as the “human traits or characteristics associated with a specific brand name.” Common characteristics or traits represented include sincerity, intellectualism, ruggedness, competence, excitement, and sophistication.

This can be a bit of a daunting task, but there are great resources to help you navigate through this process. I especially like the Scale from Jennifer Aaker because it provides some simple guidance down the path to determining how you want your company image to be perceived by the intended audience. This will determine the look and feel of many elements of your company, most significantly the design and colors used for your company image–logo, letterhead, business cards, website, etc.

Step 3: Give Life to Your Brand, With Words

One of the best ways to give the first breath of life to your brand and message is to define your tagline. I will give you two examples of taglines from two very different integration companies in which I was involved:

ProLine Integrated Systems: I worked at ProLine, in a division called TECHome for 10 years. ProLine used the concise and classy tagline “Simply the Finest.” The logo used on the letterhead, business cards, and envelopes was elegantly displayed in gold foil. ProLine’s mission was to design and install the finest-quality home theaters and integrated home automation systems available. They catered to a very affluent clientele, who wanted the very best and were willing to pay a premium for the finest system, service, and support to go with it.

Custom Home Integration: I founded and built, and later sold, an integration company called Custom Home Integration, or CHI. Our tagline was “We make entertainment easy.” Our mission was to design and install entertainment systems that enriched people’s lives and were very easy to operate. We focused on control and automation of the systems, with the intention of accomplishing key user activities with the touch of one button. Our clientele was not looking for “the finest system,” but they were assured that they would receive the best (user) experience by working with our dedicated team.

So what is your message? Who do you want to be and why is it important to your audience? What do you want your audience to think when they hear about your company or see your truck(s) on the road?