Whether your business has existed for five months or fifty years, organizational brand management is vital to the ongoing growth and success of your organization. Despite its importance, you’d be surprised at the amount of neglect this aspect of business management receives. Great brand management has many benefits including:
• Appear “bigger” than you really are and/or better than the competition
• Increased customer loyalty and referrals
• Increased mind share among potential and existing customers
• Enhanced ability to attract customers of competing organizations
• Easier sales process
On the flip side, poor brand management can be very detrimental to your business:
• You appear incompetent and/or inferior to the competition
• Lose both existing and potential customers
• You are forgotten immediately
• Very difficult or nearly impossible sales process
• No future growth opportunities
Though at first it may not appear that you have much control over what other people think of your organization, there are many factors (conditions or acts) that you can control or at the very least influence to continuously improve your personal or organization brand. Here are five effective methods that we recommend for enhancing your brand.
1. Write a brand management plan: Before you can manage your brand, you need to know what you are managing. Take time to gather your leaders and determine what branding goals you want to accomplish. Some things to think about include “What is our identity?” “What do we want to specialize in?” “Do we want to be seen as an innovator?” Your plan doesn’t have to be an encyclopedia, just enough to get the point across throughout your organization. I like the old saying that says “If it’s not worth writing down, it’s not worth doing.”
2. Go beyond selling: In the process of marketing and selling to as many people as possible, many organizations forget the true value of the selling – improving the situation of the customer. Yes we all have numbers to hit, but that should not come at the expense of the long-term growth of your organization. Improving the situation of the customer not only means bringing them better products, but also providing excellent support of those products, educating your customers on how to further improve their situations, and getting to know their motivations (family, money, security).
3. Don’t brand based on price: O.K., so many of you may think this is ignoring marketplace realities, however hear me out for a second. Basing your brand on price alone is self-defeating primarily because in the race to the bottom, someone will always beat you there. Of course there are cases where you have to revert to the lowest price, just don’t make it a habit. Focus your marketing on your organization’s or product’s advantages, that way when everyone is offering the same “lowest” price, you’ll be the one making the sale and have the opportunity to cross sell on a higher margin product.
4. Under-promise and over-deliver: The fastest way of driving your brand into the dirt is to not follow through on your obligations. Although it is natural to want to actively make your organization appear to be the best by screaming it to the ends of the Earth, this strategy can backfire very quickly if you can’t meet the expectations you have created. Foster excitement among your clients and the market in general by being modest and truthful with what your organization can do and then exceed their expectations by giving them more value or world-class service (within constraints of course).
5.Turn brand problems into brand opportunities: Bad things happen – it’s just a fact of life and business. Rather than hide, minimize, or outright lie about mistakes or problems, the best method is to analyze the situation, determine a solution, and then market how your organization can be better because of it. One famous case is Tylenol. In 1982, seven people died after taking Tylenol pain-relief capsules that had been poisoned by a criminal who has yet to be identified to this day. This incident could have literally put Tylenol out of business; however they proactively addressed the problem leading to the creation of federal anti-tampering laws and reforms of over-the-counter packaging. Tylenol and parent company Johnson & Johnson were praised by the media for its handling of the incident. In seven years Tylenol became the most popular over-the-counter analgesic in the U.S.