“Man-up”… not!. The imperative is to Brand Up! – The 3 Steps to Creating a Brand Strategy

Fifty seven BILLION dollars!   My oldest brother has an acquaintance who sold his brand, for $57 BILLION dollars (ever hear of Gillette).  Not bad money if you can get it.   This is a powerful statement for brands . . . er . . . equities.

What the market will pay you for your value represents an equity.  Stocks, bonds, or the equity in your home; are things we understand.  But another equity in business is it’s “brand”.

A brand is a value that exists in the mind of the customer.  That mental place holder is what gives the brand equity its value.  The bigger the place holder, the more powerful the brand, and the significance it provides as a resource to grow the business, to have success beget greater success.   The brand flywheel gets momentum that carries huge inertia.

Which is why Dave Hewlett said, “80% of Strategic Planning is all about marketing.”   I love the second quote of Hewlett’s that I sew together with that one which is, “Marketing is too important of a job to be left to the marketing department”.

Brands.   Those things that stand out, that make us noticed in the market place . . . AND WE DO WANT TO STAND OUT!

To look like everyone else means that we get average returns like everyone else.

In the Kelton Fascination Study it was determined that women will “pay an average of $338 per month to become the most fascinating person in the room, roughly 15 percent of their net income.”  (Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation – Sally Hogshead – P 231)

Are organizations willing to pay 15 percent of their value to make their brand more fascinating?  Do they even have a brand?

So what are the simple steps to determining and establishing your brand?

1. Determining your brand starts with “what is in the mind of the customer?”  If your advertising doesn’t match that mental customer equity, you might as well just flush that money down the drain.  Or give it to the government, they can spend it foolishly as well.

2.  Making your brand stand out.   The unique factor.  If your customer determines that your brand is reliability, delivering on promises, great customer service, a good value for the dollar THEN YOU HAVE NO BRAND because every business has those.  “AFLAC”, screams the duck.  The GEICO gecko competes.   Do “Good Hands” have a chance against these stand out brands?   Well, yes, and no.

The hard part of standing out is the courage that it takes to push the envelope.  To look and feel different.  That is why the smaller organization can whoop on the bigger organization.   Netflix to Blockbuster.   Enterprise Car Rental to Hertz.  Originally they were smaller.  Originally.

Pursuing a blue ocean strategy of standing out takes courage, it takes chutzpah.

The organization needs a culture that will accept the brand promise and move in mass to take the message to the world.  That is why the number one job of Sales Management is to create a culture that permeates the team.

3.  Execution is the easy part of branding, but it is where most people miss out.  This is where creativity kicks in.  It is where the organization needs “street fighter smarts” (to use the quality that Nike makes part of their culture).  Branding and selling is about leveraging the individual strengths of departments, design, and people.  Can you say Apple computer?

Execution of a brand is about coaching, it is about leading AND managing.  It is a dogged focus on causes versus effects.  Revenue is an effect of other causes.  If your brand value is held in the mind of customer set “A”, then you won’t grow unless you get the sales team to start taking that brand value to customer set “B”.   That requires new value messages that resonate with the new customer set.

So if you look at these three simple elements you can see they look at

  1. Where have we been?  What do we represent because of that?
  2. How can we make that “past” and “present” stand out in the future?  Who do we want to take our value to?
  3. How can we execute on moving toward that future, today?  At some point we have to “take that hill”.

Sounds a lot like the script for my Strategic Planning sessions with clients across the country.

So what is your equity?  Brand up mister.

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