When you’re starting up your own business, you likely give a lot of thought to your branding. After all, your brand is what separates you from your competitors. It’s what makes you stand out in a crowded marketplace, and keeps customers coming back.
From your perspective… it’s also the fun part of developing and running your business. It’s the part that allows you to indulge your creative side and experiment with different words and images. But, and this isn’t intended to be a facetious question, what exactly is your brand?
Is it the logo that you spent so long developing? Is it the color scheme that you agonized over getting just right across your website, your social feeds, and your physical premises? Is it the slogan that encapsulates everything your business stands for in a press release-friendly soundbite?
In truth, these things may be the veneer of your brand. But your brand needs to run deeper than that. Otherwise, these carefully considered aesthetics are nothing more than window dressing. Let’s take a look at what your brand really is…
Your brand is the promise you make your customers
Your brand represents a set of standards and ideals.
It should be inherently tied to your business’ mission statement and should be the driving force behind every executive decision you make. It’s easy to get so bogged down in the daily operations of your business that you lose sight of what your brand is supposed to mean to your customers.
Don’t ever lose sight of that promise. Because as soon as you stop keeping it, you can expect to lose customers.
Your brand is the equipment you use
The best brands know that they’re weighed by their operational excellence, not the lines and curves of their logos. So they invest in an infrastructure to deliver excellence. And that means using reliable equipment that will make operations efficient and trustworthy.
That means not only investing but maintaining. Even something as simple as using quality, warrantied furnace repair parts for your HVAC system contributes to your brand’s reputation.
Every time something goes awry because you’ve cut costs with your equipment or failed to properly maintain it, your reputation can be damaged.
Your brand is the people you hire
As the head of your business, it’s easy to see yourself as your brand. And while you may be the face of your brand, it would be churlish to assume that you alone contribute to the impact your brand makes on the customer.
It’s the hard work of the people you hire that brings your brand to life. And when you either don’t hire enough people or under-invest in their training, development or compensation, your brand will suffer.
Your brand is your operational framework
Finally, your brand (and what you want it to represent) should influence every aspect of your operations. As such, you should always be looking for ways to make them more efficient and better suited to the customer’s changing needs.
Familiar operational structures and rhythms can be comforting and lead you to believe that you’re at the top of your game. But look no further than Blockbuster Video if you need an example of what happens when you’re not prepared to change your operations to better suit the needs of your customers.