The disciplines of branding and marketing are often confused. And it can mean a big loss of opportunity for life coaches, business coaches, and therapists trying to earn more money, grow their practice and impact more lives.
Example – many people who teach you about marketing your business, will teach you things like; develop a sales funnel, identify your clients wants and needs, communicate your value in terms of their needs, answering objections, ask for the sale, and then even upsell.
This is great standard practice for marketing. After all – most businesses fail to bring in more business because of a lack of process. A lack of a system that works.
However – therein lies the problem. Your marketing can be replicated by your competitors. Just when you think you have one over them, they get one over you.
Simple examples – “Want to earn more money?”, “Sick and tired of your job?”, “Are you ready to move on?”
You’ve heard them before. All these are all marketing hooks that are easy to copy and paste.
Anyone can make the same promises. Use the same unique selling points.
They can attain the same proof for their claims by asking a friend or strategic business partner to provide an endorsement.
How do you rise above all the noise?
What’s not replicable – is a brand of distinction. Well, when it is done right.
Everything a business does communicates a message – a brand message.
Often confused with marketing and sales, branding must precede every and all marketing, web design or sales campaign you ever do. A brand represents an emotional experience, personality and promise that can’t easily be copied. Especially when it is done right.
It is the seed of all business operations.
Without getting clear on the message that your brand represents, you will end up competing with everyone else in the market who all; look the same, sound the same, and promise the same.
Think for example – Apple. It has a personality of its own – happening to offer computer, phone and technology products. You won’t get the Apple experience anywhere else. It represents a lifestyle, a way of living, all by way of their design. From the experience of their phone, to their online website, to their physical store – the look and feel is the same.
And that lifestyle that Apple represents, is something people are willing to protect and preserve. Those loyal customers are fighting to preserve their way of living, of which Apple happens to be a strong part of.
That’s why, despite financial struggles, individuals will still find the resources and methods to purchase their products. They might find something similar or comparable in the market but “it’s not quite the same,” that’s what they’ll say.
They don’t settle for anything different. So they do what it takes to get what they want. To get what they need. Even if that means camping out in a queue for a new product at 3 in the morning!
“A brand is a beautiful thing. Enormously powerful. Enormously fragile. Building a brand takes vision. It takes passion and sweat. And perhaps most importantly, it takes discipline. The discipline to never waiver from your brand’s DNA and what your message to the world will be.” – I Love New York
So how does a brand position itself as the only choice for its target customer?
Great question. Let’s start at the top.
A brand occupies what brand masters call mind-space. That means, once someone is attached to your brand, they will go only to your brand for their specific needs. And that brand of course, includes you – if you are a personal brand.
Without a proper brand – marketing and sales efforts are in the game of competing for attention. Whereas branding occupies mind-space so that customers and clients become blind to competition.
You aren’t looking for customers, they are looking for you. And your marketing channels help reinforce brand familiarity and mind-space through frequency and congruency in your presentation. Like a good relationship – you always need to check-in regularly to maintain it.
I’m not just talking customer service – I’m talking about any point at which your brand and business has an interaction with someone. It governs everything you do in a business – who you employ, who you work with, how you serve customers, how your shop is designed and decked out, brochures, websites, business cards, social media, dress codes, how people converse etc…
- How does it feel?
- How does your brand converse?
- How does it dress and present itself aesthetically?
- What does it stand for in the world?
- What defines it’s philosphical way of living?
Many questions. All of which must be considered, with rigour.
The degree of your brand’s congruency, determines the degree of its distinction.
Picture this – someone walks into a supermarket to buy the same loaf of bread he has eaten for the past 2 years. He loves the texture, taste and healthy composition of the dough. As he walks through the store, someone tries to sell him their “new bread”. They promise him it is “organic”, “top notch” and they even dip a little bit of it in olive oil for you to sample.
He continues to walk. As if that sales rep didn’t even exist. He continues till he reaches the shelf to pick out his favourite bread.
It’s not only, the only logical choice. It is the only choice in his mind.
That’s what you want to create for your brand. You want to crowd your competition from the hearts and minds of your customers.
You must become the only logical choice for your customers.
Branding is at the heart of all your business operations. And if you get your branding right, your customers will become blind to your competition.
That means – you are the only logical choice for their needs. And you are the only logical choice of referral for other people who have a need. When done right – there is no competition.
This is the level that the best brands play at – and you ought to capitalize on this opportunity too.
Crafting a brand of distinction is not by accident – it is by design. And there is an extensive process to follow to crystallize a solid brand. One that governs what marketing and sales channels you should explore, what message you can and can’t communicate, and more importantly – what channels you have to ignore.
It’s about congruency.
Rather than competing with other markets for attention, why not play at a level that transcends that noise? It’ll take time, diligence and dedication to crystallize the seeds of your brand.