EVERYONE IS HUMAN…and yet every single one of us is unique. We form groups based on a unique quality that all in the group share. Even when sharing certain interests, there is still a distinct individual quality that every human being possesses – without even trying. In fact, trying to be like anyone else is an exercise in futility — in the end, you can only be you. But since being you is not a completely conscious act, understanding what makes you you can be elusive.
Businesses are like people in a way. Even two businesses with the same offerings have their own unique qualities, distinct from one another. The mistake that I’ve seen so many businesses (and people) make is trying to be like another (or a competitor.) Inevitably, when businesses become over-homogenized — steeped in imitation — thus, drowning out their own unique voice, the only competitive edge they are left with is price. Then it becomes a race to the bottom where no one wins — not even the customer — because the product or service has had to cut so many corners to lower the price, that it becomes sub-standard.
If a business has the capital to distribute their lowest-price products to a wide enough audience (read: the loss of any unique or special qualities,) then they might survive.
For the rest, the key is in finding your audience that shares an interest in your unique, very special offerings and personality. Rather than trying to be “everything to everybody,” (which, by the way, only leads to being nothing to everybody — an expendable commodity that will be replaced without a second thought by the next lowest bidder,) find your unique voice.
What sets you apart from the competition?
This is a common question, but can be as elusive as trying to explain what makes you you. How do you explain it in a way that reaches the others that share your unique values?
A Brand Strategy answers this question by probing more deeply into the inner workings of your business, processes and motivations. A successful Brand Strategy is not a logo, name or tagline. A successful Brand Strategy leaves you with a well-defined company culture with a clear set of values, goals and vision. A solid brand will inform all of your promotional efforts, effectively reaching your unique target audience and prompting sales from a place of integrity and honest value.
Some of the steps along the way entail:
- Defining your unique Value Proposition (what sets you apart)
- Honing in on your Target Audience (those that share your unique values)
- Research: imagining and creating sales tools like social media ads, emails and landing pages are only half the battle. Research and testing are necessary parts of the process in finding out if your audience is who you think it is, and that your values do resonate with them.
- Messaging: Developing a consistent voice, meaning what you say and the way you say it, is essential to implementing effective communication with your Target Audience.
- Naming & Visuals: As stated earlier, your company name, logo and tagline are not your brand. The text and visuals you use are like a microphone. It is used in service to your voice. As the mic will only amplify a voice, good or bad, the communication of the voice of your brand is amplified by your text and visuals. Very important components, indeed, but without the prior steps, they will lack meaning.
Ultimately your brand is the experience people have when they interact with your business. In the same way that you have different levels of friendships as well as people who don’t even fall under the category of “friend,” you know when you’ve met a true friend because of the way you feel with them. When you have the ability to create a satisfying experience with your target audience, then you know you have an effective brand and a voice that will be sought after.
Lindy Bostrom is a Brand Expert and the founder of Bostrom Graphics.