What makes your business stand out? Why do your customers seek you out? What is your X-Factor?
I wrote in an earlier post, your customers want to know the “real you.” Yes, they want a clear value proposition and value for their dollar, but that’s not enough. They want to get to know the people behind the brand and what you truly value.
With the start of the New Year, I thought it would be relevant to build on the “Value + Values” post, and discuss the process of developing your brand personality.
1. Identify: Go deep and figure out what makes your firm tick
The New Year is a natural period of contemplation and self-reflection. The closure of the previous year helps us to look forward and consider the possibilities. It gets us to consider the “big questions” like who we are, what we want, where we’re heading and how we will get there.
Digging into the “big questions” helps you discover the seeds of your brand. Developing a remarkable brand, one that stands out and draws in quality customers, requires deep self-awareness.
Go deep. Often the place to start in the Identify Phase is with the founder’s vision. Why was your company created? Now work forward, and identify the core values, personality and desires that drive your company.
2. Distill: Package your values into a definable brand experience
As you get to know the essence of your business, the next step is to strip away all the varied aspects of who you are and focus on a single element that you can own.
Think of it this way, a brand is a file folder in your customer’s mind. They experience your company, make a judgment, categorize you and file that knowledge away for later. The goal is to own a position in your customer’s minds – one that will trigger them to think of you whenever they have a need.
For example, Zappos identified service as a key aspect of their core values. As Tony Hsieh, Zappos’ CEO, said, “We’re a service company that just happens to sell shoes.” They have distilled their essence, and made it a key aspect of their brand and their operating model.
(For more on this concept check out my post, You Don’t Control Your Brand.)
3. Express: If you don’t blow your own horn, nobody will
A brand doesn’t come alive until you engage your market. You have to get the message out there, and help your customers experience your distilled values.
Look for highly visible ways to express your brand’s essence. One of the ways Zappos proves it’s a service company is by offering a generous return policy. Zappos offers a one-year return policy, and on top of that it’s free shipping to return your purchase. They make shopping no hassle, and mitigate much of the risk of buying clothes and shoes online
There are lots of ways to express your brand. You can publish useful content. You can sponsor events. You can do whatever your imagination can come up with. The key is getting your message out to the largest audience possible, and helping them experience what makes your company remarkable.