What a company values is the very thing that sets them apart from their competition. Whether that sets a company apart in a good way or a bad way is totally up in the air. We are all known for something. McDonald’s is known for putting fast-food on the map. Jeep is known for their rugged off-roading vehicles. My dad is known for being loud when telling a story, turning heads in restaurants. My brother is known for being a Crossfitter.
Some of the things we are known for are thought out and intentional. If only people would choose to associate who we are with our intentional behavior rather than the entire, sometimes ugly, package. However, they’ll pick up on the subtlest of nuances if it resonates with them. I know people who totally disassociate themselves with a company because of the tone of voice a customer service representative had given them on the phone. The truth is, people are always watching; always listening.
It’s for this very reason that some of the best companies of our generation are meticulous about their branding. They know that you’ll associate something with them, good or bad, whether they like it or not. Therefore, these companies want to have as much say as possible in the conclusion you draw about them. The core of branding is to control the word association people make with your company as much as possible. Perhaps “control” is too adventurous of a word to use with this. In reality, you’re just guiding what words an audience will associate with your company.
- Let your values define your brand.
Your brand is an extension of who you are. If you try to fake the funk, people will be able to pick up on that and see right through the facade. Instead, let your values permeate every nook of your company. Matt, the owner of our company, is the best example I can think of for this point. He and his wife were school teachers that were just making ends meet. They started making decals and custom apparel for a second stream of income and, as you know, there was a lot to learn. It seemed that no one was willing to give Matt the time of day to show him the ropes of succeeding in the industry so he had to learn things the hard way. Ever since, our company has had the core value of teaching anyone and everyone that’s willing to learn. Matt loves teaching and watching people grow, so our brand is an extension of that. When people think of The Rhinestone World, they think of the word “education,” a core value. When people think about your brand, make sure they are thinking of your core values.
- Repeat. Repeat.
It’s not enough to simply define your values on a Facebook Live and expect people to always think of you that way. Instead, you’ve got to sing the same song every time someone hears you speak.
Think about how Jeep presents themselves in all of their commercials:
You’ve got a cool-looking SUV driving out on the open road when suddenly it pulls off-road and into the mud. Mud splashes off the tires in super slow motion and a small drop gets on the camera lens. When the car comes to a stop, you see clear as day the emblem that defines the epic montage, ”Jeep.”
We see this image being portrayed in commercials, billboards, and print ads. They are consistent and they drive the message as often as possible. Keep that in mind when you interact with your audience. Remind them of your core values.
- Be patient.
The strongest bonding agents (no, not like James Bond. I’m talking about glue, here) require up to 12 hours for the best results. If you’re impatient with the timing of gluing two things together, the bond won’t last as long as they should. The same principle is true for branding with authenticity. It’s easy to get discouraged when people don’t get your message immediately, but you’ve got to push through that discouragement.
Think about it: The average person is exposed to approximately 5,000 advertisements a day (https://sjinsights.net/2014/09/29/new-research-sheds-light-on-daily-ad-exposures/). Audiences have grown numb to many forms of traditional marketing. That’s where you’ve got to be ready to fight the good fight for business. Your message won’t always resonate with the audience immediately. With brands, there is rarely a “love at first sight.” Instead, you need to be like the nerdy best friend who continues to love his crush in hopes that one day they’ll see the light and live happily ever after. What you and the nerdy best friend need to have in common is the patience, perseverance, and consistency it takes to go the distance. Trust me, it’s a lot easier to be patient, persevere, and be consistent if you’re being authentic.
- The fate of your company is in their hands.
Making a quick buck won’t bring longevity to your company. It’s easy to sell a product, then never offer help or support for those who purchased it. The real challenge is being there for your customers when the going gets tough and they need your help. Too often, business owners treat customer support as a burden.
DON’T DO THAT.
No business can survive without customers, but customers can survive without the business. We, as business owners, are dispensable. The customer, however, is invaluable. Treat them with the love and respect they deserve and go out of your way to make sure they know they’re appreciated.
All-in-all, being a consistent brand is a lot of work. It’s a lot less work if your brand is an extension of who you are. Work hard at being a better leader and business owner every day. As you grow in character, so will your business. Even though it may take time for customers to notice, be consistent. In the end, your customers will be happy to have a business like yours they can count on and you’ll be happy that your business has customers.