Talking about branding is like talking about leadership. There are coaches and courses which purport to teach leadership, but as we all sense thats why we want so badly to learn it leadership comes from character and inner qualities. Its an extension of beliefs and values the person holds and then acts out in their life, an integral part of their personality. You cant pick up character in a seminar. It comes from years of reading, work on yourself, exposure to great literature, great art and great people, and plain out experience.
Leadership isnt going to a seminar and coming back saying, Lets do a mission statement, its being so devoted to mission yourself others cant wait to get around you, find out what it is, and partake of it.
Leaders lead because other people want to follow them. Theres no other reason. Not the paycheck, not the stick just that feeling when we get with someone Hey, I want to go where theyre going. Count me in!
Leadership isnt a surface thing, and neither is branding. Its what you stand for, your personality. Its your soul and what youre about.
Fiddling around with your logo and business card are superficial things. They make an impression on your consumer, yes, but they dont have power; they only have veto power. No one ever booked your services because of your business card, but someone may have vetoed you because of it. There are some terrible business cards out there, and people DO form immediate and initial impressions. Im thinking of the therapist I know who believe it or not has a neon fuschia business card. This is not the person I want doing therapy on me or anyone I know.
On the other hand, I never looked at an attorneys business card theyre all the same, even the same font and said, This is the man I want to represent me in court.
The way you get your brand across is projecting your personality who you ARE in every aspect of your business. What your webpage looks like, the wording, the inclusion of quotes or not, graphics, the way you handle your customers, how well you deliver products, promises and services. Your products and your style.
We bond with businesses the same way we do with people through their personalities.
When I think about Dave, God rest his soul in peace, and Wendys, I think just a comfortable place to be. Actually I knew Dave, our kids played soccer together, and he was just the same way in person as he was on the t.v. screen. Now THATS branding.
Branding means starting with your values and beliefs, projecting these into everything you do, and going forward from there.
When I went into coaching, I did so because I wanted to help people, but in my own way, according to my beliefs and values. Coaching is not therapy, but one thing that frustrates me about therapy is the tight scheduling. You can be in the middle of And then the man put a knife against my throat and your session is over.
I wanted to remove this element from my coaching practice. I wanted to be known for exceptional service, commitment and connection. I wanted to be a place people could come in their warp-speed lives and know they would receive the time and attention they deserved.
How we handle time is an important part of our personalities. Here are some of the ways I play with time to project my brand:
My website is loaded with information that takes a long time to read.
My website takes a long time to load. We are not in a hurry here.
Each of my Internet courses comes with the opportunity for unlimited email with me. Learners are free to respond, react, question and dialogue with me for the duration of the course.
I answer each email individually.
I dont use autoresponders anywhere in my practice.
I dont arbitrarily limit the time of the coaching session.
I dont require a contract. The time is open-ended
I dont ordinarily book clients back-to-back. This isnt an assembly-line.
I offer the Dont Die at 50 Weekly Organizational Calendar© but wait til you see it. It isnt talking about polish your shoes.
I deliver my ebooks personally, that is by email with a note. Sure this could be an autoresponder thing, but thats not my style. If someone has the courtesy to buy something from me, they deserve the courtesy of a personal note.
Everything I produce and the way I deliver it is branded.
How about you?
BUSINESSES HAVE PERSONALITIES
Paul Temporal, author of Advanced Brand Management, asked people to describe two competing companies personalities as if they were people and heres what he got.
People defined Company A as sophisticated, arrogant, efficient, self-centered, distant and disinterested. Company B, the competitor, they defined as easy going, modest, helpful, caring, and approachable, and interested.
Not surprisingly, 95% of the people said theyd rather do business with Company B, and, not surprisingly, Company B was way ahead in the competition.
START WITH YOUR VALUES & YOUR BELIEFS
When you think about branding your business, sit down and think about whats important to you and what you want to project. Then make sure everything you do speaks of this. In other words, walk the walk, dont just talk the talk
If its your intent to treat customers with respect, operationalize the term and make sure youre actually doing it. Respect isnt a concept; its an action.
Modernizing your image (logo, collaterals) wont effect a change in brand values, says Temporal. The heart of the brand remains the same what it stands for or its personality.
Consumer perceptions of quality, service and other intangibles are your brand, and what keeps them coming back for more. Are you approachable? Are you interested? Do you care? Do your actions show it? Your customers wont be fooled and they have choices.
About the Author
©Susan Dunn offers personal and professional development coaching, Internet marketing and article-writing services (www.webstrategies.cc/articles.htm ). Visit her on the web at www.susandunn.cc and mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org for FREE ezine.