One of the biggest struggles for dry cleaners is to find a way to stand out from the crowd of other establishments providing similar services.
First, while we know there can be a huge difference from one dry cleanerto the next in terms of quality of work, quality of service, specific services provided, experience, and expertise clients often don’t.Without differentiating your business, you run the risk of being viewed as a commodity - potential clients often have the perspective that all dry cleaners are interchangeable and all created from the same mold.
Which results in price being the main point of difference between service providers.A strong brand eliminates the need to compete solely on price, because price comparisons become less effective when customers know they’re not paying for the same product.
Let’s take a step back real quick and talk about what a brand actually is.
It’s not a logo – that’s your signature. And, it’s not a trademark, either, trademarks are legal property.
It’s not an identity, this just provides guidelines on how you can present your message.
And, it’s not a product, products are tangibles.
A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or organization.It’s a gut feeling because people are emotional, intuitive beings.And, it’s a person’s gut feeling, because brands are defined in the minds of individuals, not companies, markets or the public.
Because your brand lives in customer’s minds, branding is the process of developing consumer beliefs and perceptions that are accurate and in alignment with what you want you want them to believe about your business.
In the case of branding, perception is reality – there is no empirical quality catalog that buyers can consult. The only thing that matters is what the perception of the buyer is, and it is the influencing of that perception that creates powerful brands.
In other words…
It’s not what you say it is.
It’s what they say it is.In order to influence your consumer, they have to recognize your message. And, in order to recognize your message, they have to recognize you.
Getting them to notice you is the trick – because biologically, our brains act as filters to protect us from information overload.
Which means we’re hardwired to notice only what’s different. That’s what branding is. Defining what makes you different from the competition.
Developing a plan to set yourself apart from your market by defining what truly makes you different from other dry cleaners and then clearly communicating that difference to potential clients can drive business, increase sales and save you money.
By differentiating your business, you catch the attention of potential clients and create “gravity” by drawing them to you –this is a more positive version of “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”. It also enables you to retain current clients much more easily, because they will have a stronger sense of who you are and what you can provide in the future. Your work will eventually fade after a time, but your reputation will live on if firmly established.
That reputation is what puts you in an elite category. Brands are seldom as effective when they are egalitarian and available to everyone as when they are elite and accessible to only those in a certain class. This type of branding doesn’t discriminate, just creates the perception of elitism – and perception is everything. So, you can think of it this way, a powerful brand can repel as many people as it attracts, which is ok as long as it’s oriented to attract your buyer and repel those people not in your market.
Branding establishes a road map and helps you determine what you’re trying to achieve. It reminds you what you stand for and provides guidance, so by creating a strong brand definition, you can eliminate unnecessary expenses and direct your resources to where they will be most beneficial to your business message.Because branding gives you a clear template for promotional materials, you know what kinds of resources to invest in, what kind of people to hire or subcontract with, etc.
But, essentially, branding is all about business – it’s about getting more clients to buy more products and services, it’s about creating loyalty and eliminating the need to compete on price alone.
The current economic downturn has affected every industry. Many organizations have taken hits to their reputation and others have taken this opportunity to evolve their services or products.Most likely, your company has not escaped the past couple of years completely untouched.
Do you know your brand as well as you used to? If you’ve experienced any of the following, your brand has likely been altered and is in need of a tune up: Any changes in an organization can call for an assessment of your brand and the message it projects. Even small changes in your organization can significantly impact public perceptions and your marketing message. Your brand is a dynamic entity and changes in your company’s structure and services should be reflected in the message your company portrays.
Whether you’re defining your brand for the first time or just going through a tune up, the process is the same. The first step to defining your brand is research – this is where you find out everything there is to know about your market, your customer and your product.----Analyze your competition – finding out what already exists and what they’re offering will help you determine how you’re different and better. The only way to see if you are standing out from the crowd is by performing a competitive analysis. If you have not performed one for a while make time to take this important step in re-aligning your brand.Where should you start? Look at their advertising and PR, Research them online and actually buy their products and services. Send friends and family members to visit their business. Be a secret shopper.When you have a clear view of what the competition is doing, you can decide what makes your product or service different and then create an image of that difference that sticks in customers' minds.----Research also includes your prospective customers.You can create a customer persona – or an “artificial person” to help you visualize your ideal client. How old is your typical client? What level of education have they reached? What are their average income levels? What benefits are important to them? What objections do you need to overcome? The more specific you can get in creating your persona the more useful it will be in creating brand messages that will resonate with your audience.----Lastly, you’ll need to find out everything about your product or service -what makes it unique, what makes it excel over competing alternatives, and how it solves your customers wants or needs. Then you can create a compelling message around it’s value. -----When you know your competition,customers, and products you can determine your brand position – which is your space in the market and in customer minds. Earlier we talked about how we are hardwired to notice only the things that are different. Customers so overwhelmed with marketing messages, they only make space for products and services that provide unique solutions to problems that aren’t being addressed by competing products.To position yourself, you must first determine what needs only you fulfill – differentiate. Then you can begin to communicate your point of difference – fixing it in your customers’ minds. The goal is to win a unique position in the market and consumers minds and then perform so well that no competitor can compete against you or unseat you.
So, how do you define what makes you different?Clients want to know: Who you are.What you offer that your competition doesn’tWhat you do better than your competitionAs the business owner or manager, you should be able to offer very compelling answers to these questions.
So, what all this really boils down to is…
What one reason, above all others, causes people to buy from your business? That’s what your brand should represent.
Once you’ve defined what makes you different, create a brand definition statement about what your brand stands for. You may be thinking you don’t actually need to write it down, but you should. A well-written definition will summarize for anyone who reads it what you offer, why you offer it, how your offering is different and better,what unique benefits your customers can count on, what promise you make to all who work with and buy from your business. This means you can be sure that your marketing consultant, designers, counter staff, drivers, managers, and even your vendors are all receiving the same message and know exactly what your brand stands for.This definition is what forms the template for resource allocation we discussed earlier.You have to know your brand definition before you start to create materials and marketing that will become the public presentation of your brand.Without a definition, the face of your brand (logo, name, advertising,pr, etc.) won’t be CONSISTENT with the base of your brand (mission, vision, values, culture).
Ta-da – you have now identified and defined your brand. As you move forward into leveraging your brand in marketing and advertising, remember a living brand is the essence of your business. It’s the promise you made yesterday and the promise you’ll make tomorrow
That’s why it’s really important that you manage and protect it. The proper “care and feeding” of your message leads to strong, resilient, and healthy brand.
If you take nothing else away from today’s webinar, please remember this. The three most important words in branding are….
Consistency, consistency, consistency If you know what you stand for and project consistent messages to your target market that constantly reinforce how your offering is different and relevant, you build knowledge and loyalty and spur consumer action.Branding is all about sending a strong and consistent message. With a strong brand, you won't have to sell for as long or as hard. Customers will know what you stand for before you give your sales pitch.
Your brand lives in every day-to-day interaction you have with your market, this includes:The images you conveyThe messages you deliver on your website, proposals and sales materialsThe way your employees interact with customersA customer’s opinion of you versus your competitionAnd the key to successfully maintaining your brand isCONSISTENCY consistent toneconsistent level of qualityconsistently true to your brand
Consistency is the cornerstone to a strong brand.A strong brand is consistently integrated across all areas of your business. It is reflected in all marketing materials and communications. Your brand is a promise that is brought to life at each channel and every touch point where your business engages your audience – which includes customers, employees, prospects, vendors, or any person your organization touches.A strong brand is a customers’ collection of coherent ideas and experiences with your product or service over time and your brand is reinforced EVERY TIME people come in contact with any facet of your business and it goes all the way to the core of who you are and what you stand for. So, it’s up to you to make sure those ideas and experiences are consistent. Again, the magic ingredient of a strong brand is CONSISTENCY.
So, now let’s talk about how to use your brand in marketing.When you ensure that your brand’s message is consistent across all your marketing you ensure that the messages of different marketing programs don’t conflict. The same branding should appear uniformly across your entire advertising range, marketing channels and promotional options. That includespress releasese-mail signaturestrade show displays and boothsstore or office signagebanners and billboardsprint adsposters and marketing for sponsored or charity eventsSales brochuresstationeryin other words everything.
If you’re conducting a brand tune-up, audit all your company's current marketing communications, paying particular attention to sales tools – becauseover time, these tend to become mismatched and disconnected from other marketing efforts. This will ensure that your branding tune-up is successful, and once your sales and marketing tools are re-aligned, will create a stronger brand image.
Pay attention to high level messaging by asking yourself how the message you intend to convey in your website, signage, press release, brochure, or other marketing relates to your overarching brand. For instance – you decide it’s important for people to know about a new technology you’ve installed. But, in referring to your brand statement (because you wrote it down), you are reminded that your main brand message is about your personalized service. That’s what differentiates you from other dry cleaners. So, while the new technology could (and should) be mentioned in your marketing, the primary message should be around how you offer personalized service using cutting-edge technology.
Low level messaging is also important. Look at what you’re saying indirectly, and make sure it doesn’t clash with your high-level message.If the main message for the your marketing is that you offer personalized service using technology, yet you also say you have an automated system that manages the entire dry cleaning process, clients will left to wonder just how personalized your service really is.The same goes for the creative aspects of your marketing. Make sure the fonts, colors and images you use reinforce your brand message and don’t conflict with it. If medium doesn’t match up with the message, it will create dissonance and you will leave the consumer wondering just who you really are.
For example – The message is “Courteous, Professional Service”. But, she looks pretty relaxed. When I worked in retail in high school – we were always told “if you can lean, you can clean”. She looks friendly, but courteous? And, definitely not professional. Neither are the colors nor the font.
In this ad, the message and medium are more well matched. He looks courteous and professional, the font and colors reflect that.A professional consultant can help you create an identity that will guide your creative processes and help you align you message with your medium. Again, being able to provide a written brand definition will make sure that your consultant is certain of what your message is when designing your creative.
When planning out your marketing and advertising program, remember that you are committing to a brand message, not campaigning.Campaigning is changing your core brand message to fit what you think people want or need to hear TODAY so they’ll buy your service. For example, Politicians campaign. Campaigning is marketing for short term goals by constantly changing your story.When you do that, people aren’t sure what to think of you. You don’t have a brand – you have a product or service with some potentially interesting marketing You can’t create client loyalty if you have no loyalty to your own brand.Committing is marketing for long-term growth by creating an evolving collection of coherent brand ideas and experiences over time. Define who you are and what you stand for and commit to it - look at marketing as a progressive story – not quarterly campaignsBuild your brand based on core principles that will never change, but remember
Brands are like people
People change clothes every day (we hope, or you’ll all be out of business!), but changing clothes doesn’t change the essence of who they are.
Brands are the same – you can change how they are presented creatively, but the core message should be consistent across all your marketing channels and across time. You are committing to the message, not the medium.Again, this is where a professional consultant can help you develop creative marketing while ensuring that the message remains consistent with your brand.
Okay, now I’m going to tell you the big secret of branding. The thing that will make yours a primo brand. Ready??
No one buys a drill because he wants a drill, he buys it because he needs a hole somewhereBranding starts with customer need – or a need you can create for a customer,and the true secret of branding is to establish your brand based on the value your clients will receive. This is your “value proposition” or your “unique selling point”.Branding is most effective when it represents some improved condition for the customer and customers are attracted to those brands that have been especially created to cater to his or her needs.Brand elements should be examined in terms of what attracts people to you, not what attracts you to you.In other words, how good is your hole?How do you know what needs you are addressing? Pattern to testimonial letters? Referrals cite common reasons for contacting you You attract a certain market or interest group Do you have a service that sells better than the others you offer Do certain pages on your website attract more hits than others What do client surveys tell you What do you hear when you network or socialize with peersAll these things will help you define what value you are bringing to your client.
Wait – we’re not done!
How do you incorporate the ABC brand into your brand? That will vary from affiliate to affiliate. Some of you will use it as a defining benefit of your brand, others will use it as a feature. You will have to answer the same questions for ABC’s brand as you did your own around core values and competitive advantage. There’s no right or wrong answer. Remember, though, that when you do use the ABC brand in your marketing, you need to ensure that the ABC message is consistent with what Chris and Ed have defined, regardless of the fact that you’re using for your own business.
So, to recap – branding can help you drive business, grow sales and conserve resources. It can help create customer loyalty and eliminate the need to compete based on price.A good rule of thumb is, if you’re planning for one year, grow sales. If you’re planning for three years, grow channel. If you want a business that is built to last, grow a brand.
Ironing out your brand
IRONING OUT YOUR VALUEThe Importance of Branding for Dry Cleaners
Email or text questions during the webinar to: firstname.lastname@example.org or 303.638.8625
Why should you care aboutbranding as a dry cleaner?
Create a template for resource investment.BRANDING CAN
Branding is about getting more people, to buy more stuff, for more years, at a higher price.
But, wait….…you’ve been in business awhile, you already have abrand, right?
The economic downturnhas touched nearly every brand in some way.
Reasons for a brand tune up:• Significant changes in staffing• Changes to your sales channels• Revised customer service strategies• New products, line extensions or changes to product offerings• Added or closed locations• Significant changes in the competitive landscape• New demographic targets
Be CONSISTENT• Consistent tone• Consistent level of quality• Consistently true to your brand
A Strong Brand• Reflected in all communications and marketing• Brought to life at each channel and every touch point where your audience is engaged• Collection of coherent ideas and experiences• A “true” voice
The same message shouldappear uniformly across allweapons in your advertising andmarketing arsenal.
Audit all your company’s marketing communications,paying particular attention to sales tools.
Ask yourself how the message you intendto convey in your marketing relates to youroverarching brand. HIGH LEVEL MESSAGING
LOW LEVEL MESSAGING Look at what you’re saying indirectly, and make sure it doesn’t clash with your high-level message.