Let’s assume for the sake of example you have a very reputable brand and are considered to be a leader in your industry. Your brand is often requested by name and most customers don’t hesitate to pay a premium for your products and services.
If you’re fortunate enough to be in this position, you know it wasn’t by accident. And you know the minute you think you’ve “made it” and ease off the gas, that formidable competitor who was riding your tail yesterday will quickly overtake you in the left lane tomorrow.
It’s the unforgiving and very exciting game of brand management, and if you want to win a leadership position in your industry, start with following these seven rules:
- Make sure your employees know what your brand stands for. If you truly want a culture of teamwork, everyone must know and understand your brand differentiation, your vision, your definition of winning, and how their individual contributions impact the entire organization. Give them a sense of purpose that extends far beyond individual job descriptions. Without a sense of purpose, there can be no passion, and in the absence of passion, there is mediocrity.
- Ensure your brand promise is delivered throughout each phase of your sales cycle (pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase experiences): Define your touchpoints (those areas where your brand touches the customer) and train your people on how your brand should be delivered through each. For example, if you are a manufacturer claiming that your products are the “easiest” to maintain, everything about your company must resemble easy – easy to navigate your website, easy to get questions answered quickly, easy to complete and submit a service request, etc. Everyone at your company must make everything as easy as possible for every customer, all the time.
- Define those brand metrics you wish to focus on for growth. What is your goal? Do you need to grow brand awareness? Or, do you need to focus on brand understanding, brand credibility, brand consideration, or customer acquisition and retention? There are eighteen brand metrics to consider, and your selections should align with your business strategy.
- You must always be thinking about what’s next. Today’s game-changer will be tomorrow’s yawner. Given enough time and capital, competitors can duplicate your products and services and may make them even better. Patents may be valuable, but for the truly innovative competitor, they are often nothing more than a motivation to leverage your brilliant idea into something bigger, better, faster, or cheaper. Get inspired about innovation, build a culture to support it, and throw down a challenge to yourself and your people to come up with the next big idea.
- Everyone at your company must be in a perpetual state of continuous improvement. If it’s not broken, break it, and build it better. If it works, figure out a way to make it work better. How can you provide even more value to customers and partners? How can you get even more from your employees in terms of dedication, production, ideas, and teamwork? What are their incentives and motivators? How can you be easier to do business with? Push hard and keep raising the bar.
- When hiring, look for people who act like, think like, and quack like entrepreneurs. Recruit and reward people who know what it means to take ownership and responsibility for everything they do. Look for those who understand how important it is to meet deadlines, keep promises, honor commitments, keep customers happy, and take pride in their work. Unfortunately, these people can be hard to find, but when you find them, they are invaluable to your entire organization.
- Review your brand performance every 12-18 months. This is just good business practice. Even if you rebranded your company last year, schedule a date with your senior leadership team to make sure your brand is performing well and that your metrics are improving. If they are not, identify the problems, make the appropriate changes, and hold people accountable.
Your brand is your biggest asset because brands are the reason companies exist. Start with #1 and work your way down the list. You’ll begin to witness new energy and excitement within your company filled with people who will fight the good fight to help you win.
If this blog struck a chord with you and would like to discuss how to get started, let’s talk.