Branding is a concept that has been around for a very long time. Marketers will tell you that branding is key to your business’ success. And they are right. Every business has a “brand.” They may not have a logo, but they have a brand. A business’ brand is based on their reputation in the market. How they are seen by their clients, prospects, and the communities they are a part.
People have brands too.
No, I’m not talking about tattoos here, but your personal brand. It’s how your operate your life. It’s your reputation. Do you follow through? Do you finish what you start? Are you punctual? Are you trustworthy? Do you give back to the community? Any quality that is attributed to you by the people around you is your reputation and that is your “brand.” How you are viewed in the communities you are a part.
Think of it this way, if you were to describe someone to a person who didn’t know them, outside of a physical description, how would you do it? You’d describe their qualities based on their reputation (brand) with you.
Let’s get back to your business. Unless you have a fair sized staff, your business’ reputation is very close to your own. Yes, Madison Avenue creates “brands” for food, soap, cars, and even celebrities. And even those created brands have a feel or reputation to live up to.
Let’s go high profile for a few examples of brand crisis. For those of you who are old enough, think back to 1982 when a few bottles of Extra Strength Tylenol in Chicagoland were laced with cyanide. Not only did a number of people die, it was a brand and company nightmare for Johnson & Johnson. There was the consumer data breech at Target in 2013 that slowed holiday sales at the retail giant as people stopped swiping their credit cards. More recently GM has taken a big hit for the faulty ignition switches installed in their vehicles form 2003-2011.
In these cases and the many others you can recall, the primary factor that is damaged for the public is trust. The consumers of and the communities these brands are a part lost their trust in the brand. Without trust, your good reputation is gone.
Not surprisingly, Forrester surveys in 2013 and 2014 about major brands found that trust was the #1 brand attribute noted by the respondents. While these area all national brands, as a professional and business owner your brand is your reputation. And your reputation is based on the trust you build between you and your client.
So as you move forward building your business, be sure to think of your brand as a living and growing asset of your business. In old accounting terms this was shown on the books as “goodwill” and while it’s not a tangible asset, it is highly critical to your success.
Keeping you moving forward
PS – If you’d like to discuss ways to build and improve your reputation and brand, reach out and let me know. I’m always happy to schedule a call with a reader.