Stop Looking Like Everybody Else. Brand Yourself!
A mid-sized business in the Washington D.C. area branded itself as the Project Management Company. The truth is that hundreds of companies within 25 miles of the Nation’s Capital routinely provide project management services to government agencies, many of them as effectively and at lower cost. But this company clearly communicated to customers and employees that its corporate purpose was Project Management. When a government agency needed project management services, this company was among the first they thought of.
Use these techniques in tandem to differentiate your company from competitors. Buyers pay a premium to acquire a company that is well-known and well-respected because that company has a competitive edge. There are quite a few accredited branding firms that you can find that will give you the boost you need in the business world. You will receive an in depth consultation, this will give you the assurance that they will create a profit for your company.
Customers, employees, and buyers are drawn to businesses that have a clear brand. In fiercely competitive industries, branding is as important to success for start-ups as it is for Fortune-500 companies. One element of branding is your intellectual property – use it to distinguish your company from its competitors. Branding also builds lasting customer and employee bonds as surely as superior service, quality products, and generous benefits. Businesses that communicate their brand effectively in the market place create more real and perceived value than their competitors, and retain their customers longer.
What you do, how you do it, and the results you help your customers achieve are the essence of your company’s brand.
Once your brand is clear, communicate it to customers and employees through multiple channels by:
- Participating actively in associations
- Publishing articles in industry periodicals
- Conducting seminars and workshops, and publishing books
- Obtaining corporate certifications (e.g., CMMI and ISO),
- Adopting copyrighted trademarks and logos,
- Distributing attractive and informative marketing materials, and
- Maintaining a proactive presence on the web (not just a website).
Use these techniques in tandem to differentiate your company from competitors – stop looking like everybody else. Buyers pay a premium to acquire a company that is well-known and well-respected because that company has a competitive edge.
In today’s global economy, like previous times, the more you please customers, the more they will buy and refer new customers. Simple, yes; easy, no. Lacking a brand, you may find that your company is trying to win business from any customer who is willing pay you. But if your company delivers a product or service that is perceived as unique and superior to other choices, you have a clear advantage. Furthermore, if you deliver that product or service using unique tools or a proprietary process that is hard to duplicate, that intellectual property is worth even more to a buyer.
How can you tell if you have a brand that is widely recognized by competitors and customers?
Ask yourself the following ten questions to assess the strength of your brand:
- Do my customers believe they get something from my company that they can’t get anywhere else?
- Do customers buy from my company with full confidence in the quality and utility of the products and services they will receive?
- Do customers often switch from competing businesses to buy from my company?
- Are customers willingly to pay a premium price to purchase my company’s products and services over competing alternatives?
- Do my customers return again and again for follow-on purchases without advertising and discounts?
- Do my customers and suppliers routinely refer other customers because they have received excellent service?
- Have my revenue, margins, and profits increased annually for at least the last three consecutive years?
- Does my sales volume increase even when my prices go up?
- Is my company known for using unique processes or tools to produce the products and services we sell?
- Is my company and my employees frequently cited in well-known industry publications for their expertise and accomplishments?
If you answered YES to eight or more questions, your company has a strong brand. If you had five to seven YESes, you are well along the path toward building a brand. If you had less than five YESes, then you have some work to do to distinguish your company from its competitors.
When you sell your company, you won’t be paid explicitly for your brand. Instead, its economic value will show up as a revenue multiplier that is on the high end of industry averages. That being said, the value of your brand can be calculated. Its replacement value is the amount a new owner would have to pay for the trademarks, logos, publicity, websites, advertising, and marketing materials that would be required to build the level of name recognition and customer loyalty that your company enjoys in the market.
Your brand also has an immediate economic value in terms of how much more customers are willing to pay for your products and services than they would pay for your competitors’ offerings. Increasing the value of your company when the time comes to sell is a plus, of course, but the compelling reason to brand your company is that, without a brand, you will be challenged to produce profitable growth year after year and you may be forced to sell your products and services for less than your competitors. So stop looking like everybody else – brand your company!
About the author
Richard G. Stieglitz, PhD, (www.dickstieglitz.com) consultant to owners of privately held companies and author of the best-selling book: “Expensive Mistakes in Buying & Selling Companies – And how to avoid them in your deals.”