As a small business owner I think a lot about my company’s brand. I ask myself questions like, “how am I perceived by others?’ and “how do outsiders view my company?” I keep three things in mind as I strategize about my company’s brand.
You are your brand
People cannot separate you from your brand. If they like you, then they feel favorably toward your business. If they think you’re a jerk, then they don’t want to do business with you. This goes beyond how you treat people. The way you dress, your language, your social behavior, your charitable alliances, your friends and hangouts, all those things speak volumes about you as a person. Since you are your brand, they speak volumes about your company.
Intent versus impact
Years ago someone said to me, “we often judge ourselves based on our intent, while we judge others based on their impact.” It is true. We know what we are trying to accomplish, but those outside our circle of close business associated and friends don’t. They evaluate our business based on their experience with it. How do we impact them. Do we create value? Are we more noise in their already-cluttered life? Do we care? Are we authentic? Remember that everything we do in business – from email communication, to product delivery to customer service – is being judged on how it feels to the recipient without much regard to our intention.
One easy way to keep a pulse on your brand is to ask those around you for three words. When you put together marketing materials show it to a variety of people – some close to you and some that have no connection to your business at all (like a coffee shop clerk on a slow afternoon) . Ask them to look at it for just a minute and then use three words to describe it. You can do this with your website, with your customer service, with your products. Limiting their description to three words requires them to avoid fluff and say the most important thing.
Who else spends time thinking about their business and personal brand? What changes have you made recently to try to strengthen your brand?