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We have just embarked on a rebranding journey. Since our acquisition of Precision Frame and Body last year we have been one company operating under two distinct names in two distinct neighborhoods. This year, we launched a fleet repair division and we hope to do at least one more acquisition. For a while now, I have wanted to have all the related entities functioning under one name with one set of core values, one culture and a unified approach to marketing. In short, I have wanted an overarching brand to hold the disparate pieces together.

We recently had our quarterly board of advisors meeting. I’ve written about my board in previous columns (see fenderbender.com/rainsboard), and it continues to be among the most beneficial things I have ever done for my business. I still highly recommend it. We asked one of our board members, who is an expert in branding and marketing, to share his reflections on our current branding efforts. He started by sharing an idea called “archetypes.” I had heard of archetypes before but mostly in literature or mythology. It had never occurred to me that businesses can have an archetype, as well.

In her book, Awakening the Heroes Within, Carol Pearson talks about the 12 major archetypes with names like the Hero, the Warrior, the Caregiver, the Seeker, the Ruler and the Sage. She writes, “The heroic quest is about saying ‘yes’ to yourself and in so doing, becoming more fully alive and more effective in the world.” Discovering your brand answers big questions, like who you want to be a hero for, what you stand for, and what you are saying “yes” to over and over.

One of the most surprising insights from this board member’s presentation came when he said, “The owner is the brand.” That is to say, the owner determines the voice, personality, and, yes, archetype, of the company; the brand is an extension of the owner. When he said that I was reminded of a time I almost turned over our social media marketing to someone else. I tried to hire a good friend to do it.

For the longest time, it was something that I enjoyed doing, but like most things, that sense of enjoyment can come and go. I was in a particular season where it just felt like we weren’t getting much traction, I wasn’t posting as much as I knew I should and frankly, my desire to amp it back up was gone. I was ready to outsource one of the key things that I love most: marketing. During the course of the conversation, though, my friend talked me out of it.

“As a small business, your customers want to hear from you. Not some hired gun trying to make things interesting,” he said. And that was true. The one thing that I can offer my potential customers that nobody else can is simply myself.

If you’re an owner of a shop that is connected to a national network or chain, this column may not apply to you as much. At a certain level of scale you really don’t have the option to keep a personal and local perspective. On the other hand, if you are the owner of a small MSO or single location, you have an incredible advantage over the large chains that try to appear to be local and personal. They are neither and therein lies a great strategic advantage. Your customers can have access to the owner of the company they intend to do business with.

Now, this certainly doesn’t mean that every customer should have your mobile phone number or be able to call you on Sundays or holidays. Instead, social media provides a great and simple opportunity for you to let your customers know you’re a real human being that shares interests that they share, care for the locale where your shop is located and be able to interact briefly with you on social media.

It allows the voice of the business to be your voice. If you don’t like what you hear, you can change your voice. However, it has to be authentic. The writing needs to come primarily from you and it needs to reflect your style, preferences, interests, tone and values. It needs to reflect your archetype. In short, it needs to reflect your brand.

For us, we landed on the Caregiver archetype, and as we push forward with our plan for a brand that reflects the entirety of the business, we’ll incorporate that into the new name and tagline that we plan to unveil later this year.

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