Click the image to read the articleDefining YOUR BrandI have to admit this is a really boring headline!It’s been used so often that probably no one even reads articles with headlines like this. I hope in thiscase that is not true, because I’m going to give away some great ways to help your business define yourbrand and marketing strategy so you can be more relevant to today’s consumerI’ve been working with companies for over 30 years, developing marketing plans, advertising messagingand helping them define their brand. Believe me; it’s not as easy as you think, because a brand is notwhat you think it is. It’s what everyone else, especially your Stakeholders believes it is.Most company owners define what their brand is, or what they, the owners think it should be. Thenthey communicate this to their employees and probably never really know if their perception is in factreality. In actuality, the owner’s vision is probably wrong more often than not.Here’s why.The company hasn’t done the hard and tedious work necessary to really understand what the“stakeholders” of the company think. What’s a Stakeholder you ask? Well consider these entities asStakeholders: 1. Owners 2. Salespeople
3. Customer Service Employees 4. Warehouse Employees 5. Delivery Employees 6. And everyone else in the business not listed above.I remember a company my agency worked with back in the 90’s. They were in the printing andpackaging business reporting approximately $30MM in sales. The primary founders/owners had passedaway and left the business to their 3 sons. When we went to work for them, all 3 brothers wanted to runthe show and needless to say, there was some chaos. They all told me their different visions of their“Brand”, yep all different and in their minds, each was correct.Rather than argue with them, we went undercover in an experiment that led to the process I’m writingabout and what RetailerNOW and Napier Marketing Group will share with you online via download tohelp you define the brand and the necessary steps you should take to get real with the Brand’s Reality.I personally went to work in the shipping and receiving department for several days. I believed thatthese people would reveal to me “the truth” as to what they thought about the company and thecompany’s Brand.My hunch was correct, because they were honest….brutally honest. Essentially, they thought the newmanagement was a bunch of Silver Spoon Morons that had no experience and worse … they talkeddown to the employees, showed no respect and so much more. However, we also found out that thesesame employees loved their managers & supervisors, respected the sales management and sales peopleand worked hard to show it to those individualsWhen we went in with our S.W.O.T analysis - (Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats) the firstarea we addressed was Threats.The biggest threat…..the owners!Our solution: All the Owners should go play golf and get out of the way until they learn the businessand earn the respect of ALL their Stakeholders. They should turn over the day to day operations to theirmanagers and supervisors and focus on the vision and future mission of the company.With that said, let’s talk about the process we developed that may help the company truly define whatthe brand is, and what needs to be done to achieve that Holy Grail of Brand Equity.The following are the basic steps necessary to fully understand the who, what and where the brand isand how to make the necessary changes to complete the vision. Every employee needs to fill out thisquestionnaire. It should be done anonymously so that the “stakeholders” can be candid and honestabout what they believe your company and brand stands for…or doesn’t stand for. Yep, this may takeeach employee 1-2 hours to complete, and even longer to tabulate the results into an action plan. That’sthe hard part, charting every answer from each stakeholder, because that is the only way you’ll begin toactually visualize the truth about your brand’s platform
The information below will serve as a quick outline that will help you define your brand, the marketingmessaging and your sales proposition. The complete outline can be downloaded on RetailerNOW’swebsite in a PDF and as a Word Document so you can customize the questions as you see fit.GoalsThis area asks your employees to, in their own words, describe your business. It also asks them to definewhat they think the goals of the company are, or should be. Obviously you want everyone to have thesame goals as you, but you may be very surprised with the outcome.There are a lot of questions in this section. Measurable goals are critical and without measurable goalsyou cannot continually improve.Step 2Audience Profile:Ok, you probably think you know who your audience is, right? My question is, what research have youdone and based off that information, have you tailored your business vision and mission towards thataudience?Here we ask some fairly basic questions, but the answers require you to do some research. Who is yourtarget customer? What are their demographics/Ethnicity and Psychographics? How do they shop, whatdo they shop for, what are their wants, needs and desires, interests and lifestyles. Where do they live?How do these consumers want to be communicated with and so much more.I’ll wager that your customer of 10 years ago is NOT your customer of today, and because of that, yourvision of your Brand may be becoming irrelevant.Perception/Tone/Guidelines:This section is especially interesting when all the Stakeholders complete this area. I’ve found more oftenthan not, that perception again is not reality. If this happens with your company, you really need torethink how you communicate to your Stakeholders first, before you communicate with the consumer.There are several questions in this area that you’ll get a lot of different answers from the responders.Why? Because you probably have not done the “basics” when it comes to developing your brand, muchless building it.Competitive Positioning:This is an area where you can really learn where you have assets or liabilities when it comes to your“frontline people” that are the Brand Emissaries for your business. If they don’t know the answers tothese simple questions, you have a problem because these people are the first encounters yourconsumer has with your store and your Brand.How you are different from your competition and the please describe the key factors which you believe
will make your company/products a success? 1. How is your company different from your competition? 2. What elements of your products/services “specifically” set you apart from your competition? 3. What areas of your current positioning, advertising, people, website, etc., are successful and why?S.W.O.T AnalysisEveryone hates this exercise, because it requires sincere “soul searching”. Everyone needs to be brutallyhonest in answering these questions, for you cannot have an actionable Brand Strategy if you don’taddress your shortcomings and failures first.Remember, anyone can make a sexy commercial, great ads and in-store sales materials, but it all fails ifyou do not deliver on the “promise”, and that is what a Brand is….Your Promise! (When you downloadthe document off the RetailerNOW website, we give you many questions to ask and soul search undereach category below).StrengthsWeaknessesOpportunitiesThreatsTargeted Message:State a single-minded word or phrase that will appropriately describe your expectations once theassignment is completed.Communication Strategy For Your Brand:How do you believe you Brand should be positioned to convince your target audience of your relevance?Here we have 5 distinct questions that will give you insights as to what your employees think and feelabout your Brand. You’ll be surprised at how many great ideas can come from this section.
Staffing and TrainingHere is an area that is critical for your business and for insuring that you set the standards by which yourcompetition competes. Yep, knowledge is power and superior knowledge can infect an individual withpassion on a particular subject.I’m surprised with what little training is done both at the retail level and by the manufacturers. Here weoutline some questions and we ask the employees to rank the good, bad and ugly.SummaryPersonally, I don’t think many retailers in our business care about their brand, for as I wrote in theAugust Issue of this magazine; R.I.P - The Death of Brands As We Know It, we’ve replaced Products withPrice, Brand Positioning with Cheap, and Passion with Sameness. Essentially we’ve “CommoditizedEverything” and made the shopping experience all about “The Deal”, at the expense of the experience.Oh, that company I mentioned at the beginning of the article? We worked with them for over a yearwith the processes we developed and outlined here. Today their sales are in excess of $110MM and theowners are thriving….as are their employees and Stakeholders. Call or email me and I’ll show you whatwe did for them and how as a focused team, they helped redefine their business in a commoditizedindustry. Bill is a specialist in creating, guiding and deploying successful marketing B2B & B2C solutions integrating traditional marketing strategies with the web and social media. He has worked in the home furnishings industry for over 12 years, as the chief marketing officer for some of the industry’s largest manufacturers and creating some of the largest promotions ever launched within the industry. Comments? Questions? Contact Bill Napier, Napier Marketing Group, Inc., firstname.lastname@example.org, (608)-539- 3005, www.social4retail.com. Download the complete worksheet at: http://www.retailernowmag.com/brandvertising Or http://www.social4retail.com/defining-your-brand---i-have-to-admit-this-is-a-really-boring-headline.html