Brand ignorance and ineffective marketing.
Let me tell you what the most devastating part of dealing with an agency is.
It’s not the wasted time and/or money.
It’s not even being left with a crappy brand.
It is the fact that you leave that experience bruised and bitter. Vowing to never work with these so-called “gurus” again. Then you fall into what I call BRAND IGNORANCE.
Like an abused dog who doesn’t trust humans anymore, you justifiably avoid the abuser like the plague.
But in the process you unwittingly discard the importance of branding. Like throwing the baby out with the bath water. You become brand ignorant.
This annoys me because this ignorance directly affects your ability to market effectively, which directly affects your ability to make money.
This is why I want you to fire your agency early. Before you get bitten and become jaded.
I want you to become empowered early on so you can shift from a stage of unawareness, skip past the brand ignorance, and emerge confident and empowered, equipped with the knowledge and tools you need to grow a brand that will stand the test of time.
Brands aren’t built. They’re grown.
Understanding this principal alone will put you in the right frame of mind to start building an impressive brand that WILL improve your marketing effectiveness.
A brand is like a plant that needs love and attention. You can’t force it to grow, but you can encourage it and guide it as it reaches its full potential.
The two things you need to know about branding.
Just two and only two. Forget everything you think you know about branding.
POOF! Gone? Good.
We’re going to keep this super simple. The magic is in the execution of these ideas, not in the complexity.
I love this quote from Albert Einstein:
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”
- Albert Einstein
Here are those two things:
Brand Positioning + Brand Consistency
What is brand positioning?
Brand positioning is the special place you hold in the mind of the consumer.
This quote perfectly captures the power and importance of brand positioning:
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
- Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon.com
Here’s an interesting fact about positioning. Your brand establishes a position whether you intend to or not.
The moment your brand interacts with the public, an impression is made and a positioning takes place.
So it is crucial that we make every effort to clearly communicate the ideal way we would like to be positioned. Letting our tribes know we exist.
That’s the power of an Internal Positioning Statement.
What’s an Internal Positioning Statement (IPS)?
It’s a short paragraph that clearly explains:
Who you are
What you do
Who you do it for
What benefits they get from using your product or service
Through this process you should define:
Your tone of voice
Your customer persona
The benefits you provide
The magic isn’t in the IPS itself. The magic comes from the effort you put into articulating your values.
It’s easier said than done.
When I do this with my one-on-one clients, we can spend hours upon hours digging deep into their psyche to discover what truly sets them apart from the competition.
It’s exhaustingly, mind-numbing work, but the results cannot be ignored.
Those that invest the blood, sweat and tears into this process will reap the rewards for years to come.
How will an IPS improve your marketing though?
Your IPS will be the guiding light, the compass for ALL future marketing and branding initiatives.
A well constructed IPS will clearly define your target audience, your tone of voice and the value your provide.
At a single glance, you’ll be reminded of the path you’re on and what you’re aiming for.
SIDE NOTE: Your IPS is NOT your vision or mission statements. It’s also not something that should be available for public viewing. It’s for you and your trusted teams eyes only. It’s for internal use only. So don’t make it sound gimmicky. Be real.
So it’s pretty obvious how important your IPS is.
Seriously, if EVERYTHING is going to sprout and be influenced by this statement, then you’re going to want to be sure that you get it right.
I like to use the analogy of a ship out on the open seas to illustrate the importance of a great IPS.
If a ship is heading north on the open seas, but is off by 1 degree, after 7 days of sailing, the Captain and his crew will find themselves in a very different location. Nowhere near where their intended destination.
Branding is like this. These details are brushed off as insignificant and unimportant, but they are the minor deviations that will derail your journey and take you off course.
What is brand consistency?
Brand consistency is the reinforcement of your IPS.
So simple yet so important.
At every opportunity. At every customer touchpoint, that IPS needs to be reinforced.
It gets reinforced by the way your receptionist answers the phone. It gets reinforced by the way your staff wear their uniforms. It gets reinforced by the type of music you play in your showroom. It gets reinforced by the images you use on your website.
I think you get the idea.
Before you do ANYTHING in your business, ask yourself this one question:
Does this reinforce our Internal Positioning Statement?
If the answer is “no”, then you don’t do it. Period. End of story. Finito.
Here’s a branding mantra I live by and I encourage my clients to live by:
A clear brand is a successful brand.
Clear brands win. Customers can easily recall who they are, what they do and the role that brand plays in their life.
An inconsistent brand sends mixed signals. Mixed signals cause confusion and ultimately disaster.
Remember, we are lobbying for peoples attention. So we want to show them at every opportunity that we are who we say we are. That whenever they see our brand they can expect the same level of service as always.
A friend of mine told me about his holiday in China. The day he arrived he was very tired and overwhelmed by his new environment. Hungry, he looked around for something to eat and saw the golden arches. A little slice of Americana. A little slice of familiarity.
Without thinking twice he went and ordered himself a Big Mac and satisfied his needs.
That’s the power of consistent branding.
One cannot survive without the other.
Brand positioning without brand consistency leaves you with an IPS that’s basically sitting in the attic gathering dust and cobwebs. It’s like a ‘69 Mustang with a V8 engine sitting in your backyard getting rusty.
Brand consistency without brand positioning is, well, hardly consistent at all! It couldn’t even begin to be consistent. Efforts are unguided and haphazard.
It’s not fancy, but it is effective.
People are always looking for the next hot topic. But friend, I promise you that these two branding principles have been in effect for a very long time.
The worlds most successful brands have executed in these areas flawlessly for the most part, and will continue to do so.
By firing your agency, you’re declaring that you’re in it for the long haul. That the finer details matter.
Nobody wants to be a one-hit wonder. You want to grow a brand that makes great money but most importantly, you want to be empowered and equipped to do it over and over again.
The branding journey never ends.
Even if you understand and implement these principles perfectly. Markets change. People change. Technology changes.
But if are diligent with positioning and consistency, your brand will establish deep roots, and you would have joined the elite class of entrepreneur. The Enlightened Entrepreneur.
The entrepreneur defined by patience and hard work. The entrepreneur who values education over buzzwords and trends. The entrepreneur that has sunk their teeth deep into their business and has learned firsthand what it takes to keep it alive.
It’s the Enlightened Entrepreneur that can now REHIRE their an agency.
Remember, these agencies are like gasoline to the fire. With an impressive brand strategy already in place, the right agency will help grow your business exponentially.
By the way…how can you tell who is the right agency for you?
This information is true for ALL creative fields or anything that requires strategy in order to succeed properly.
Agencies who understand the game ask lots and lots of questions. You’ll feel like you’re lying down on a therapists lounge while they probe your mind.
Because EMPATHY is everything.
Empathy is key because we need it to truly understand YOU and what you’re wanting to achieve in life.
Empathy is required to understand your customer avatar and their behaviour.
Empathy is required to uncover the product or services benefits. Not features, not specifications and not price.
These agencies should be the ones on your shortlist. Don’t even look at their portfolio or work history.
Just meet with them either via phone, video conference or in-person and as an Enlightened Entrepreneur, you’ll know which ones to keep close and which ones to kick to the curb.