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Strategy Session: Be Your Brand

March 2013 By Jerry Grossman
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In the world of marketing, there are few things more important than the brand. It should separate you from your competition. It should define your goals. It should be your daily mantra.

But most business owners don’t understand the value of who they are and what they stand for. If you’ve been in business for 25 or 30 years, you’ve probably grown accustomed to your name. Jim’s Photo. Photo Source. It’s been over the door and on your business cards for all this time. But have you thought recently about what it actually stands for?

Corporate brands spend millions of dollars defining who they are. When you say “Apple,” an image is immediately conjured up of a high-tech, white, clean, cool, edgy brand. Anything they introduce takes on the sheen they have created. It’s the same with Nikon or Canon or Samsung. Say the name, and an image pops into your head. As a businessperson who has to deal with their back-office issues, it may not be a pleasant image, but for consumers, each of these companies have clearly defined who they are—and their products take on their aura as soon as they enter the market.

What constitutes a brand? According to Webster, a brand is “a particular identity or image regarded as an asset.” In my mind, a brand isn’t automatically regarded as an asset. But it can be molded into your greatest asset, if you care for it, feed it and nurture it.

Let’s take each of those aspects and examine your own brand.

1. Care for Your Brand. Do you think about your brand every day? Probably not; when was the last time you took stock in what your brand stands for? Does it stand for “High Quality?” “Friendly Service?” “High Tech?” “Lowest Prices?” It doesn’t really matter what it stands for, as long as it stands for what you want it to be. You may not have the lowest prices in town, but if customers are going to come into your store because they trust your honesty and judgment, and you think that’s what will lead to more sales, then so be it. Most important, you need to define who you are. Now that may not be the same as who you were when dad handed you the keys to the store 15 years ago.

“It is not slickness, polish, uniqueness or cleverness that makes a brand a brand. It is truth.”—Harry Beckwith

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