3 Tricks No Hooker Should Try: Conventional Wisdom and Branding

Branding. Nothing strikes fear in the heart of marketers quite like this concept. For entrepreneurs with many interests, it’s difficult to think they can be summed up in a single construct. For others with a narrower focus, it’s frustrating to find just the right words to accurately represent what they stand for.

Announce yourself; announce your brand

Announce Your Brand

Your brand is what represents the core values of your company—your mission statement, if you will. Your target market will likely never see the brand statement because it’s not for them. It is designed to guide you through product development, marketing strategy, and even customer service.

Successful branding is critical for your company, and it takes time to do it properly. In many cases, it goes against what seems like common sense. As you develop your brand, you may need to buck the traditional system and go against the conventional wisdom about people and their motivations.

Trick #1: Branding on Price.

Conventional wisdom says that if people buy the cheapest product available, you can increase sales by offering the lowest price. Then it points to Walmart as the perfect example of how price is the ultimate deciding factor for people. After all, Walmart has made a fortune following Sam Walton’s idea that it’s easier to get “100 people to buy an item for one dollar” than “1 person to spend $100.” Although the formula worked for them, it’s not a wise idea to create your brand around it.

What is your brand focus?

What's your business brand say?

For one thing, Walmart is already the low price leader, and you don’t have their buying power to undercut them. It’s just not going to happen. However, all is not lost! People don’t make all their buying decisions based on price alone. They buy what they can afford, but the more important consideration for most is the value they get for their purchase.

Think about that for a minute. Do you really want your core value focused around money? Worse still, do you really want to be known for being cheap? I don’t care how you try to dress it up with words like thrift or value or conservation. The bottom line is that your brand should be built around the message you want to send to your customers. Cheap should not be the message.

Instead, consider who you really are and what motivates you to wake every day to connect with your world. Get your mind off the price and show customers how you can improve their lives through the value of what you offer.

Trick #2: Creating an overly general brand statement mantra.

Conventional wisdom says the more people you reach the more sales you can make. It seems like a logical idea, but it’s not a good idea—or even possible—to be all things to all people.

There’s a reason people despise politicians. One of them is their ability to speak and write with many words that don’t really say anything. Despite their abundance of words, most people walk away still wondering what there they stand. It works to the politicians’ advantage because when they’re finally elected and do the opposite of what the voters expected, their campaign words can easily be twisted into whatever is most convenient for the moment.

You’re a business owner—not a politician. You want your customers to know who you are, what you believe, and what you offer them to improve their lives. In fact, a customer who doesn’t get what you promised is a frustrated customer who can hurt your business.

To avoid this problem, you need a brand mantra to drive product development, production, and marketing. A mantra is supposed to be short, easy to remember, and repetitive. You want a brief statement that characterizes who you are—and how you want to be recognized.

Trick #3: Inconsistent messages.

Building Reputation: Mixed Messages

You have a target market. These people are those most likely to buy your products and services. They are a unique group of people with similar core values and needs that are met by your company. Your target market identifies with you for a reason, and they don’t like surprises.

In fact, people like familiarity. Your marketing materials, social media comments, and every other form of communication should be consistent. When you focus on your target market—what they want and what motivates them to buy—you are able to

Your brand should not change. As an individual, you know who you are. You have interests and skills that are specific to you. If you don’t like rollercoasters, you may not make it a priority to visit amusement parks. There’s nothing wrong with that—it’s just part of who you are. Your business should operate in a similar manner.

What do you offer your target market? Identify their needs and where those needs intersect with your values. Create your brand from there and stick with that message across all forms of marketing and media.

Guidelines for writing a brand statement.

Your Unique Brand

Let’s work with the following statement from a small t-shirt company. “Innovative, high-quality t-shirts for an urban culture with vision and style.” (Yes, this is a real statement from a real company.)

#1. Choose strong, descriptive words that express your intention—in five words or less. Anything longer than this dilutes the message you’re conveying to yourself, your employees, and your customers. Keeping your statement short forces you to really concentrate on what you have to offer and will help you stay focused. Remember, keep it simple!

I hope you immediately recognized the problem with the example’s length. I stopped paying attention after t-shirts, and those four words didn’t tell me anything about who the company is and what they can offer me. If I can’t determine what makes them different, chances are they can’t either. Changing the statement to “T-shirts with vision and style” still conveys the idea and tells me far more about what I can expect from their products.

#2. Use language that your customers will understand. Forget the buzz words. They’re cheap words that say nothing about who you are and what you believe.

One of the first problems with our example is the use of the buzz words, “innovative” and “high-quality.” Come on, t-shirts are fairly standard in design. What makes these t-shirts stand out from the rest? Including “high-quality” is insulting. If you expect your business to survive, you had better be providing high-quality merchandise. These words do nothing to help me understand this company.

A better statement might be, “t-shirts changing the world.” Yes, it’s still a general statement, but it conveys the important idea that the company desires to change the world. It may be through witty statements or clever logo designs that convey “world changing” ideas. Perhaps a portion of the proceeds are donated to organizations that feed the hungry or provide education opportunities for the less fortunate. Eliminating empty adjectives and incorporating verbs goes a long way toward creating a usable and effective brand statement.

#3. Create a brand statement that can be adapted for marketing purposes. Your brand statement is not an advertising tag line. The brand statement is for you. An advertising tag line is for your customers. This is a tricky concept for most business owners. If our example company’s goal is to “change the world” through t-shirt sales, every decision made by the company ties back to that goal.

When the company decides to support a charity that offers free medical services in third world countries, this decision is clearly in line with the desire to change the world. The brand statement then can be adapted for this particular undertaking. The company knows it’s trying to change the world (brand statement). The customer will see a line like, “This t-shirt protected a seven year old from a dangerous flu” (tag line).

What works in the world of business doesn’t always make sense in the light of conventional wisdom. Successful entrepreneurs understand this and aren’t afraid to do what works instead of what makes sense. Align yourself with this thinking and create a brand to guide you on your way to corporate victory.

About Gabriella Sannino

International SEO consultant is my title...but who cares about those? What I love is, writing about marketing, social, SEO, relevance, ruffling feathers and starting revolutions. What you read on this blog, will hopefully inspire you to continue the conversation. When I'm not multitasking around Level343 I sneak away and go sailing. I'm crazy about pistachios, and of course Nutella.

Comments

  1. I like that you emphasized the need for focus in a brand. Some businesses want to be branding hoarders; they want to pack in every characteristic they can possibly think of.

    It’s the same deal with mission statements. I find that term such a turnoff anyway. Just the name makes people roll their eyes. If you’re going to have one, I recommend calling it something else. Your ‘mantra’. Your ‘passion’. Your ‘core’. Whatever … But I’m digressing. Your mission statement should be concise enough that everyone in the company knows and understands it. If the only person who can remember it is the Chief Marketing Officer or the Director of Human Resources, then it’s not doing anyone any good.

    Focus. Focus. Focus.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] 3 Tricks No Hooker Should Try: Conventional Wisdom and Branding Branding. Nothing strikes fear in the heart of marketers quite like this concept. For entrepreneurs with many interests, it’s difficult to think they can be summed up in a single construct. [...]

  2. CopyNuts says:

    3 Tricks No Hooker Should Try: Conventional Wisdom and Branding http://t.co/eqUbTfji via @level343

  3. 3 Tricks No Hooker Should Try: Conventional Wisdom and Branding http://t.co/C6GsmE9a | On that note Good night dear friends…

  4. 3 Tricks No Hooker Should Try: Conventional Wisdom & Branding http://t.co/cF5KipGY

  5. 3 Tricks No Hooker Should Try: Conventional Wisdom and Branding http://t.co/vAmnWZ8V

Speak Your Mind

*