There is one important aspect of your marketing that you always have, whether you are aware of it or not, whether you consciously create and manage it or not and whether you care or not. You always have a brand. You may want to check out this blog post on what a brand or branding is, but basically a brand is is everything that comes into people’s minds and all the emotions that are evoked when they come across an entity, whether the entity be a company, product, service or person. There is always a brand, because the mere mention of the entity will always conjure some thoughts and emotions with people, however little they know about it.
Think about it – even just hearing a name will give you ideas straight away. A name that may include as few as three letters. Who hasn’t heard someone say something like, “He doesn’t look like a Joe” or, “Josephine – that sounds like an old lady!”. Even abstract words conjure mental and emotional images. Mere sounds that have no intellectual meaning. That’s kind of the whole thing about onomatopoeia. The feelings and thoughts that a sound evokes. Therefore, however little people see, hear or experience of your business, product, service or yourself, they will always have some thoughts and emotions attached to it.
Are You In Control?
The question then becomes: Do you just want to cross your fingers and hope that the branding that people have in their minds and their hearts for you is a brand that will help you in business and will make them buy from you? Or do you want to take the reigns and try to make sure that the brand is a brand that makes them not only buy from you, but become loyal customers that would not choose anything else?
Do you know what your branding is? A brand is what others say it is, not what you as its owner says it is. Before we can start to influence our brand in people’s minds and hearts, we must know what the current brand is. If we don’t know where we are starting from, how will we know how to get where we want to go. So how do you find out what your brand is?
You do market research. Go out there and talk to people. Ask them what comes to mind and what they feel when you, your company, product or service is mentioned. I recommend getting someone other than you to do it, because if you are the brand’s owner, people are unlikely to be completely honest with you for fear of hurting your feelings if they have something negative to say. And believe me, you want to hear about the bad things. If you don’t know about them, how can you fix them? So enlist the help of others. If you can’t afford to hire a professional market researcher, that’s ok. I am sure you can find someone you trust that will go out there and ask people about your brand and report back to you.
The next task is to decide where you want to go from there. What do you want your branding to be? What is the difference between your brand today, and the brand you want to build? Where are the gaps? What do you want to change? What is good that we want to keep and build on?
Only when we know where we are, and where we want to go, can we start to think about the best ways to get there. And that’s the subject of another blog post ;) For now, find out what your branding is and think about what you would want it to be. Oh – and I’d love to hear about it in the comments ;)