Most people believe it’s important to build a brand, but many don’t know how to start accomplishing this goal. There are also many who believe building a great brand isn’t important. It just takes things like a great sales team, lower prices or better technology. Unfortunately, business life isn’t that simple. Consider this: The Fortune 500 isn’t the only ones crowding the market place. It’s also the other 17,509 companies in America with more than 500 employees. These 17,509 companies operate out of 1,180,446 locations, employ 58.2 million people. Throw in the 27 million small businesses in the U.S. and you realize very quickly there’s nowhere near enough room in the average consumer’s mind to file away facts about all of these companies and to truly create an emotional relationship with them.
The problem, as you see, is noise. There are soooo many companies out there with similar products/services, similar quality and similar price points. There is nothing to really separate them from the mass herd. Only building a brand is what makes you stand out in the hearts and minds of your customer from the other 17, 508 companies (not including the 27 million small businesses).
So, where to begin? It comes down to two points: FOCUS and FIRST.
Focus – This is being very simple and clear on what value you provide, both emotional and physical. Here’s a saying that rings very true: You should not be something to everybody, but you should be everything to somebody. This is the essence of focus. Companies like Apple, Whole Foods and Amazon are examples of focus. It is the power of keeping a product or company brand focused on a simple idea instead of trying to expand it into every new development. To expand, most successful companies create a new product brand so it can follow the same path of building that brand on a singular, simple idea.
First – This doesn’t mean “first to market”. Rarely are the first to market the ones who survive in the long run and dominate their category. (Google was the 28th search engine created.) What I am referring to is “First in mind”. That is more valuable than being physically first. Often, a company introduces a new product/technology/service and believes they now own the category since they were first. That is a myth. It is the company who is “first” in creating a powerful brand in the minds of their customers who are really “first”. Business history is full of examples of this phenomenon.
Brands are built, not instantly created. It takes a commitment to a single, simple idea and staying focused in communicating this idea throughout the whole brand experience from the marketing to the store to the online experiences. As in the famous words of Ricky Bobby, “If you ain’t first, yer last.”