Archive for March, 2009

Brand Development and Your Company’s Core Values

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Brand development is too important to your business to ignore. Simply put, brand development is the evaluation, construction and maintenance of your company’s brand and message. Branding is what differentiates you from your competitors in the marketplace. First you must differentiate yourself in the minds of your customers and potential customers, and then you must win their loyalty.

Brand development is vital even if your product is unique. How will customers become aware of the unique value of your product or service unless your brand message is disciplined and consistent? Chances are, though, that your product either isn’t all that unique, or isn’t likely to stay unique. Competition is the fundamental reality of the marketplace.

Whatever technological or quality advantage, whatever uniqueness your product has, your uniqueness will eventually be eclipsed. It seems inevitable that sooner or later your product will become just another commodity. It may be already. Branding is the single most vital element in differentiating your product or service on the marketplace; even if your product is already a commodity you can differentially build customer loyalty through brand development.

That said, it might be useful to put some thought into what a brand actually is. The first step in this is identifying the brand’s core values. These are the qualities, which you and your company decide are most important. They are the values you live by when you do business, and what makes your approach to your business special.

In order to define your core values, you will most likely want to write a mission statement. This mission statement isn’t something you have to ever share with anyone outside of your company. However, it is useful tool for getting everyone in your company on the same page. These values, if articulated and emphasized as your core mission, will be reflected in every aspect of your business, from the most mundane administrative tasks to your company’s customer service, direct marketing, website design, treatment of your employees, and relationships to your strategic partners.

Having a core message works subtly and unconsciously on your viewers. It’s a lot like the subtext in a play or movie. When you watch a movie, you may not be able to articulate it, but you come away with a gut sense of what the movie is about, don’t you? Branding is like that. If your company is disciplined about its message and core values, then your potential customers will come away with a gut impression of your business that will be reinforced in every element of everything your company does or makes.

Once you know the core values, brand development will focus on implementing these core values in the form of a unified message. If everyone in your company understands and buys into your company’s core values and mission, your company’s every move can’t help but emanate this message in every aspect. Your company’s values will be reflected in everything from your receptionist’s behavior to the music people hear if they are put on hold. Your brand will inform every decision, and present a consistent face to the world, allowing you to establish a relationship with your customers and potential customers.