Ask Your Customers to Define Your Brand

It is not uncommon for me to be approached by a client or a potential client who wants to “develop their brand.” They are often surprised to find that they already have one – we all do.

You may also be surprised to learn that, whether you realize it or not, you have a brand identity. You may not know what that identity is, but you have one!

Many business owners believe that they define their brand. In truth, a brand is defined by your customers or clients. The definition is based on the perceptions those customers and clients form over time as they interact with your company, your products and services Рand your staff.

The question is: are their opinions consistent with what you’d like customers to believe about you? If not,¬†what should you be doing about it?

What is your current brand? How do clients view you? If you don’t know, ask. But ask creatively. A “brand” can be thought of as the personality of your business. A good way to really get at what consumers think about you – whether B2B or B2C – is to conduct focus groups and ask participants to engage in some perceptual exercises, like:

  • If this business/product was a house, what would it look like?
  • If this business/product was a person, what kind of clothes would it wear?

This may seem silly, but you’ll be surprised at the insights you’ll gain when you start asking these questions. For instance: if you tend to think of your business as the type of “person” that would dress in tailored business clothes and your focus group comes up with images of jeans and sneakers, there’s a perceptual mis-match!

What to do about that mismatch? Begin to take a critical look at every aspect of your business from your products and services, to your signage and communication materials, to your web site, to your staff, and to the way they – and you – dress. Are these images consistent with the identity you wish to have? Are they consistent with each other? In other words, does your signage reflect the same image as your staff?

The greater the consistency between all of the elements of your business, the stronger your brand. It’s as simple – and as complex – as that.

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