Improve Your Brand – Build Your Value

By: John Hotson,
Business Transition Alliance Co-Founder

You may think that your company’s brand is one of those “soft” or intangible assets in your business. Try to explain that to the CEO of Coke, Apple or the United Way for that matter. They would argue that their brand is a significant component of their organization’s value.

If they are right, how does that happen and what should you be doing to maximize the brand value for your business?

Consider this three-step process. 

1) Understand Your Brand.

How do you define and describe yourself? You know its more than the design of your logo. But where do you start?

In their book The Discipline of Market Leaders, Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema discuss how successful companies excel at delivering one type of value to their customers. They certainly perform well in a variety of areas, but they excel at one. The authors suggest that focusing on one of three value disciplines is what makes those companies category leaders with the highest value. Those disciplines are:

  • Operational Excellence
  • Product Leadership
  • Customer Intimacy

If your competitive advantage is Operational Excellence your focus is on quality, price and how easy you make it for customers to buy from you. You execute every detail of your business perfectly or cheerfully refund your client’s money if you don’t. Think McDonald’s.

If your strength is Product Leadership you are continually re-inventing yourself and your products. You reward your people for thinking out of the box. Your structure is loose and always changing. Your products are the best. Period.  Think Apple.

If Customer Intimacy is your thing, then you attract clients for life. You encourage decision making by those employees who are closest to the customer and your culture embraces specific rather than general solutions. Deep and lasting customer relationships are your goal. Think Home Depot.

Identifying and building the value discipline behind your brand starts with a surprisingly simple procedure. Gather your people around you. Determine your key business differentiator (AKA your brand attributes). Do more of the things that will make that differentiation more pronounced and stop doing the things that don’t.

2) Bring Your Brand to Life

So now everybody gets your unique value proposition. You understand your focus. You’ve got employee commitment and buy-in, so you’re good – right?

Not quite.

Strengthening your brand is more than creating the words in your mission or the core values that you put on your website. You need to bring your brand to life. It has to resonate in the conversations that happen in the hallways. You need to operate with the understanding that “You can’t sell to the outside what you don’t talk about on the inside”.

Each employee needs to understand how their individual job aligns with the company’s corporate goals. They need to be clear on their purpose in the organization and how their unique role moves the company forward. If people aren’t talking about this to one another its not likely that a culture of commitment and drive will transfer to investors and customers.

So how do you breathe life into a brand?

Talk about it. Reward the right actions. Talk about it some more. Celebrate it and talk about that. Don’t assume that everyone gets it or will practise it when you’re not there. Put it on the walls and in the halls and build a culture that is the brand.

3) Promote your Brand

But you’re still not done. A lot of companies fall into the trap of “We know that we are the best at what we do!” But knowing it and turning that knowledge into real value are two different things. Ask yourself the following:

When was the last time you stopped an employee in the hall and asked them “Why do our customers buy from us?”

  • How would they answer?
  • Does your email signature line include your company’s value proposition?
  • Do all your employees send out a consistent brand message in their emails?
  • Do your customers demand lower pricing because they think your product or service is exactly the same as your competitors?
  • Do they understand the value that differentiates you?

If you’re unsure about some or all of these questions perhaps its time you thought about how good a job you are doing promoting what makes your business unique.

Talk to your customers. Get their perspective on your business. Have your employees share their experiences with customers in “Lunch and Learn” sessions. Challenge your own thinking on what outside stakeholders believe.

What differentiates your brand through your unique value discipline ranks highly on the list of the top eight value drivers for a business – but only if you understand, talk about and promote that differentiation.

Top Eight Business Value Drivers

  1. Strong Management Team
  2. Stable Cash Flow
  3. Revenue Trends
  4. Brand Strength
  5. Condition of Assets
  6. Documented Procedures
  7. Growth Potential
  8. Diversified Customer Base

About John Hotson:

John is a seasoned marketing and communications professional and running addict. He has worked as both a business owner and advisor to owners who are committed to improving the value of their business. John is a principal of Clearwater Corporate Communications and a co-founder of The Business Transition Alliance.

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