Branding and crafting perceptions toward success

Jan. 1, 2020
Branding is a new age marketing term that describes the core purpose, vision, mission, position, values, quality and character you would choose to project to the buying public in whatever sector of the market you and your business occupy or would wis
Branding is a new age marketing term that describes the core purpose, vision, mission, position, values, quality and character you would choose to project to the buying public in whatever sector of the market you and your business occupy or would wish to occupy.

In part, branding is a representation of your strategic plan and the tactics you would use toward accomplishing your business goals, but branding, just as importantly, is a representation of your values. As the saying goes, ‘perception is reality’ and for any of us in the service business, this is, fortunately and unfortunately, the truth. Fortunately because we have the opportunity to create that perception but unfortunately because it can be very challenging and most of us are not very good at it. Or more correctly, many of us just don’t know or care about what our customer’s perceptions are and suffer that reality.

If you don’t know or care about what your customer’s perceptions of you and your business are, finding your niche in the market could be incredibly difficult for the simple reason that you might not be selling what your customers and potential customers want to buy.

While your marketing screams low price, it is specific services or convenience or quality that your customers are looking for and though you are certainly capable of delivering all that they are looking for, their perception is not lined up with your reality. They are going to where their perceptions take them, and that means the competition down the street or across town.

An important first step in the branding process is deciding who you are and what your corporate identity is. In this you have to be true to your values while in some way being relevant to your customers and potential new customers. Remember, it is our dream, but if we are selling things that nobody is buying, our dreams will remain unfulfilled. We have to create interest and fill a need.

I want to be very careful here in stating that branding is not something you only worry about at start-up as you are stepping off into that great unknown in opening a new business. Branding is something you should be looking at constantly, looking for opportunities and new ways to present yourself to the buying public, finding new markets, adding new products and services, finding new ways to fill those consumer needs and better ways of molding those consumer perceptions. It is unfortunate that many among us launch ourselves into a new business with great care toward consumer perceptions, then struggle and toil toward a modest success but never revisit the model and strategic plan that launched the business.

Nothing is static and beyond that, consumers are a fickle lot and resting success on ‘what we have always done’ is a recipe for diminishing opportunity and failure. Branding must be relevant but flexible to the market realities out there. In a different era we would put an ad in that big yellow book and if we were really motivated we might change or update that ad once every three or four years.



Those days are as dead as disco and with the advent of the internet, smart phones and social media, marketing, and in this, branding, is critical. You not only need to define who you are, but both you and your staff have to believe in who you are and live that role in your marketing, in your appearance and in how you interact with your customers.

Before you share your brand with the world, it is important that you and your staff try it on for size and fit to get comfortable with how your brand looks and how it feels. It is far better to get those alterations taken care of before going public and making sure it is a comfortable fit is a great step towards success. It doesn’t matter how expensive or stylish a pair of shoes is, if they don’t fit, you are not going to wear them and they will sit in the bottom of your closet unused.

Branding has to be a journey we are comfortable with.

I would describe for you a friend and former client of mine who walks and talks branding, almost without even realizing it. He happens to be one of those rare business owners who not only talks a great game but is very willing and able to walk it as well.

He grew up in the business and has seen it grow from a single location in downtown Charlotte to eight or ten (it’s hard to keep up) beautiful tire and automotive repair shops. The two greatest points he would make to his staff and to anyone walking in the door are that they are a family owned and operated business and that they will do everything to make your experience as a customer something memorable and something exceptional.

Go to their website and the very first thing you see in big letters is “Family Owned and Customer Driven. You walk in any one of their stores and the first thing you see is a board tracing their growth as a business with old hand written invoices from the 60’s and photos of family members. As you are viewing all of this you are standing in a state of the art facility and somehow you feel like you are standing in the home of a close family member, being assisted by a friend.



It doesn’t hurt the branding effort that this owner is working on and in the business every day or that he is personally reading and responding to customer survey cards, personally handling issues that come up. It also doesn’t hurt that his people, from his extraordinarily gifted and motivated GM on down, all believe in where they are now, know what is expected and nearly always deliver.

In the midst of this high tech, highly polished operation, it would seem a challenge to come across as family owned, or customer driven for that matter, but that is the big difference between talking the talk and walking the path. These guys believe in their mission and walk that path every day.

As the economy began to falter a few years back, many lowered their marketing budgets and as a direct result became much less visible. This particular owner, going against what many in the service industries were doing, increased his marketing budget, making himself much more visible to his customers and potential customers. The evening news was full of doom and gloom and this owner and these stores were reaching out, reassuring their customers that they were still there and inviting new customers in. This was by no means a new message but one that, in the midst of all the doom and gloom, resonated and reassured and provided that friendly and caring port in a storm.

In the midst of the greatest economic down turn since the great depression, this company grew, and expanded and set sales records. Not reinventing themselves but staying true to who they were and being very effective in getting that word out. Branding had everything to do with this success.

Marketing is the process of communicating with our customers and would be customers at times and in ways that seek to create a reaction and to drive sales. Branding gives us the opportunity to craft that message and attempts to connect with those same customers and prospective customers on a very basic, very emotional level. All buying decisions are emotional and branding should be designed to make that connection.

When a customer walks in your store do they see you as a name brand, a house brand or no brand at all? Remember what we said about perceptions. Branding makes a difference!

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