Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Brand Development 101 in Summary (with a full training video bonus)

Recently, I was invited by the Lake Barkley Chamber of Commerce (Eddyville, Kentucky) to deliver one of my firm’s (Mission Vision Partner) small business development presentations named “Brand Development 101.” For your convenience and learning pleasure, I have attached a hotlink to the training workshop uploaded to youtube.com.

It is a training module that I developed especially for the “smalls:” small business startups, existing small business owners, corporations with offices in small communities, local governments and organizations.

Brand Development 101’s goal was to effectively provide practical and usable knowledge and information about brand development and its process to assist participants to better brand their business and themselves. Like many of my trainings, I attempted to get to know my audience by asking a few intuitive questions and completing an exercise. One questions to the room of Lake Barkley Chamber members was for them to identify their favorite business establishment.

In response, one participant identified a fixture in the small, rural community of Eddyville that was locally owned named Akridge Farm Supply. Later, I researched this business online and began to understand the basis to their success as their website states, “Where customer service counts since 1933.” That is a statement or even better, principle. The reason that the participant identified Akridge Farm Supply was because of the way the business owner and staff made her “feel” each time she frequents the business. I immediately stated that her “favorite” was a great way to explain and better understand brand development 101.

Branding is about feeling, not imagery, slogans or catchy advertisement. Branding is the result of the way customers feel and think about establishment’s product(s) or service(s). Branding is a part of your company’s strategy…its much bigger than your company’s marketing plan. It is in the culture…the company’s way of life. For example, there are principles inherent to each company. Your company’s principles, whether a solopreneur (sole proprietor) or Fortune 500, spills over into the deliver of your products and services and experienced by your company’s potential and existing customers.

Customers remember and often recite exceptionally good and bad business experiences. A company develops a good brand over time, after it has delivered good, reliable and consistent quality products or services time and time again. This is the best customer retention strategy.

Next, branding is about “Awareness;” are your customers thinking about you and what do their thoughts say? Your consistent deliver of products and services, good or bad will produce “differentiation.” This relates to why or what make your customers think about you the way that they do. Another way to say this is, “the proof is in the pudding,” demonstrated from your company’s past history, customer feedback, referrals and complaints. Price is important, but not to be confused with cheapness. Customers are willing to pay for the “brands” they know, favor (feel better about) and trust (feel like they can rely upon).

Last but certainly not least, your brand is your evidence of distinction. Without distinction, you run the risk of being considered generic, or worse, a commodity. The difference between Branding and Brand Development is that development is the discovery process a company goes through to unearth (identify) its “Evidence of Distinction” and formulation of communications and strategies for differentiation. Branding is then, the tactical application of that distinction in all your communications, materials, implementation of strategies, etc. Branding and brand development is a corporate initiative.

In closing, I would like to think Vanessa Sticker, Lake Barkely Chamber’s Executive Director, Chamber attendees and Jim Stott, Chamber Chair, for the invitation and tour of the beautiful Eddyville/Lyon County community.

Henry Snorton, III is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) with advance education, proven success record assisting startups and existing businesses to create and retain jobs and obtain capitals. He is recognized and award recipient at the local, state and national level in the area of business and economic development. He is also an entrepreneur and founder of Mission Vision Partner (MVP). Mission Vision Partner is MVP is a full service economic development agency. MVP’s niche is assisting the "smalls" to make big impacts and to be successful producing outcomes & results. The outcomes and results that MVP assists its clients to produce are in the areas of 1) economic development, 2) small business development 3) entrepreneurial development and 4) application development. MVP believes that “two are better than one” and every team wants to play with a "MVP." MVP’s goal and value is to partner with our clients, the "smalls" to deliver their desired results.