A question that is likely on all small business owners’ minds lately is this: How do you capture the limited attention of your target consumer through marketing when they are constantly being bombarded with more advertising and distractions than ever before?
Also, how do you compete with established corporations that have seemingly unlimited resources?
The answer is not in marketing, but instead through best-of-breed branding.
Brand is something that has never been more important to both individuals and businesses alike.
We’re living in an era where there has never been more “noise” and competition to cut through, in what is becoming a digital-first marketplace.
Technology and the internet have made it easier than ever for consumers to research companies and products before making a purchase, leading to a much more discerning consumer that is more engaged, but as a result, has more options than ever before.
When setting out to develop your brand, there are three key layers that start with what I refer to as the “inner core.”
The inner core represents the emotional piece of the brand or the “why you do what we do”— whether as an individual or as a business.
From there, the next fundamental piece is determining “how a brand can execute on their why,” or the actual process. The last piece is the rational “what," i.e, the product or service most people will see at first glance and associate immediately with any brand.
The next step is further defining connectivity between the three fundamental layers, which are composed of multiple facets working in concert together to establish these layers.
This will be driven by the brand vision, brand values, brand positioning, brand personality and, ultimately, what I refer to as brand essence.
All of these factors combined lead to brand experience, which influences the way people “feel” about any particular brand.
From the lens of the consumer, the reality is that there is only one thing that defines a brand and that is how you feel in the moment you interact with that individual, product, service or business.
If you think of all the most-established brands in our society today, as a consumer you have an innate reaction to your feeling about that brand — good or bad — which ultimately influences your behavior.
At the most foundational level, your brand’s mission should always be aligned with your story, values, language and tone.
It should be authentic and consistent with what you stand for.
This is critical if you are going to create more trust with your customers, which
ultimately leads to brand loyalty.
The reality is, the greatest companies in the world don’t sell, they brand.
So, as an individual or small business, you need to think about business as a long-term relationship with your target consumer, not a single transaction.
When done right, a strong brand will stand out and make all the difference regarding your success in the increasingly noisy world we live in today.
Nick Bergelt is the creative entrepreneurial force behind the HospitalityX portfolio company, which develops, manages and consults on restaurant brands that break the mold of traditional dining, offering food and beverage experiences for guests throughout the country.