Never in history has it been easier to start a business than it is today. In the digital world, all you need is a smartphone and access to the internet. Hell, you don’t even have to be in the same country as your customers. It’s a global digital economy and the barrier to entry is slim to none. Sounds like a great thing, right? It can be, however, these low costs of starting a company also come with a huge drawback.
Just 10-15 years ago, starting a business meant making a significant investment. There was inventory to be purchased, a storefront to be renovated, insurance, employees and a hundred other costs which oftentimes required a loan from the bank. This loan required a meticulous business plan as a prerequisite. The bank wanted to see that you had a strategy in place to earn their money back. It was hard and it was stressful. Starting a business in those days meant you needed a commitment to make it work, and a deep-seated passion for what you were doing. You were in it for the long haul.
Fast forward to today. Everyone is starting a business; sometimes two or three. Not exactly because it’s been a long life dream, or a vision for something better, but merely for the reason that they can. Every market has become overly saturated and the competition is stiff. Does your company stand out from the crowd or is it just another “me too” brand?
In order to connect and engage, you must first define who are the people that you can provide the most value to. Only then can you create a brand that caters specifically to them in every instance they come in contact with your brand. This allows your audience to take notice of your brand and gives them a compelling urge to interact.
Take Nike, for example. Their meaning is their sole commitment to inspiring athletes to reach greater heights. Nike’s entire brand revolves around that mission. From their name, Nike (The Greek Goddess of victory) to their imagery of high performing athletic, to messaging and tagline (the mindset that winners live by). It’s all focused on one group of people. Nike designed a brand that connects with athletes deeply and they only speak their language so they’re consistently engaging them.
Another great example is the number one retailer in the US.
Walmart is not the first company to come to mind when someone thinks of a great brand, but they should be. The entire company runs on the brand’s mission statement. “Saving people money so they can live better.”
It’s not just something they say to trick their customers. Every single thing that they do, from their business model and operations to their design and messaging is driven by their mission. What most people may not know is that every part of their warehouse was also meticulously designed to save you money. Any company this committed to their brand should expect a successful outcome.
When your brand creates connection and engagement repeatedly something magical happens. You develop a solid relationship with your customers, your staff becomes committed to the outcome, trust is built and meaning is created. A brand is born.
Another huge implication of low-cost entry is the vast amount of competition. The only way to cut through the competition and stand out is to create a brand that gives your customers a meaningful experience. A fundamentally exceptional brand clearly addresses three simple questions.
1. What makes your brand truly one-of-a-kind?
Don’t you dare say “customer service”. We both know that’s a bullshit answer. Everyone says that. Dig deeper, research the competition, know what you stand for and define what makes you truly different. You may not have a million dollars on the line but act as if you do.
2. Who is your biggest fan?
To say ‘anyone’ would be foolish. Select a small group to cater to and know them like your business depends on it because it does. When you narrow down your niche you can then identify what is most important to this small, but powerful group.
3. Why should they care?
Okay, you’ve narrowed your target but what is the real value or benefit of consuming your brand? Is more time spent with their children, safety, self-actualization? Be committed to the outcome. People don’t care what you have to offer until they know that you care.
When we work with companies to develop a brand it’s always about being deliberate in our quest to create meaning. Building a brand is hard work and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, effort, and an investment of money but the rewards are well worth it.
Someone will be in touch very soon.