Brand Positioning

BRINGING IT TOGETHER THROUGH BRAND AND POSITIONING

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While it might not be the sole reason for starting a business, making money has to be somewhere on the list! You do that, by selling your product or service through persuading your target audience to buy from you. To do this, you will need to find a way to “connect” with your target audience or your products will remain on the shelf and your services will stay under wraps. The marketing and sales functions are the primary means through which you make this connection.

Entire books are devoted to mere subsets of the marketing and sales functions in business of course, and so we will barely be able to scratch the surface of these important subjects in this section. Nevertheless, it will be helpful to have an overview of the marketing and sales landscape that you face so that you can more easily choose those strategies and tactics that will be of the greatest benefit to your business. And when it comes to implementation, you will need to know about the context and the specifics of the marketing and sales initiatives that you have selected if you want them to be successful.

With that in mind, you need to become familiar with the basics of formulating a marketing and sales strategy. The strength of that strategy will be based on how well you have described your company to the public.

DEFINING YOUR COMPANY’S IDENTITY

As you plan your business, there are three key elements of your company’s identity that you need to define. These elements are so basic that some entrepreneurs decide upon them quickly and give them little thought thereafter. However, these elements are so important to the initial impression that your company creates, they are worth more than passing consideration.

These three elements are:

Your Company’s Name If you are like many entrepreneurs, you probably chose your company’s name before you made any other key decisions about your business. That’s fine. But before you commit to the name (through letterhead, signage, legal registration with your state government, etc.), make sure that it’s the right name. Choosing a company name can be a complex task, and there isn’t room here to explore all the key aspects of the process, but in general your name should be:

  • Simple, easy to say, pleasant to hear, and easy to remember
  • Descriptive or at least evocative of your business, its style, or its “attitude”
  • Appropriate to your market, industry, and target customer base
  • Original enough to be interesting

Considerations like these can be extremely important to your marketing and sales efforts because your name can evoke a positive or a negative reaction from your customers—a reaction that’s sometimes more powerful than the specifics of what your marketing materials say. The ideal reaction, of course, depends upon the impression that you want to create. “Dave’s Computers” is probably not a good name for a local computer dealer since the company sounds small and old-fashioned—the opposite of the image that most computer dealers seek to cultivate. On the other hand, “Dave’s Plumbing” may be just right for a small plumbing shop that emphasizes personal attention to its customers’ needs.

Your Company’s Logo and Colors Your logo is the graphic element that symbolizes your company. A well-designed company logo should evoke a positive emotional reaction from your customers even as it creates immediate recognition for your company. Some logos, like Nike’s “swoosh”, have become so well-known, in fact, that the accompaniment of the brand name itself is no longer necessary. Like a company name, a good logo is simple, evocative of your company’s line of business, and interesting enough that people will remember it. Make sure your logo is professionally designed. An amateurish or too-busy logo can be worse than having no logo at all.

Regardless of the visual approach you use for your company’s name, be consistent. Familiarity depends upon repetition, and the only way that members of your target market are going to become familiar with your company’s name and logo is if they see the same thing every time (only after you become well-known can you “play around” with your logo, like Google sometimes does). Remember that color is one of the most powerful mnemonics. Consumers readily recognize McDonald’s restaurants from blocks away—even if they can’t read the signs— because they have grown accustomed to the fact that red and yellow are the company’s colors. And H&R Block uses, appropriately, a simple square block as its logo, but the block’s distinct green color makes it vivid and memorable.

Your Tag Line The third key identity element is your tag line—the phrase that that often follows the company name. One example is Wells Fargo’s tag line—“Together we’ll go far”—not only because the tag line is future-oriented (a good thing in the highly competitive world of banking), but because it plays to the company’s heritage as an Old West stagecoach operator. Likewise, Williams-Sonoma declares itself to be “inspiring cooks everywhere,” which pretty much says all that the store wants to say.

As with your logo, not every business needs a tag line. But if you decide to use one, choose a tag line that is brief, crisp, and credible—and not so generic that it lacks any real meaning. “The Best in Town” is usually not a good tag line since it could apply to any number of businesses. However, “The Professional Carpet-Cleaning Experts” may be an effective tag line because it points to what is presumably a core part of the company’s value proposition.

As companies become large and well-established, they often abandon their original tag lines since the lines are just one more thing for already overwhelmed consumer minds to remember. For instance, Coca-Cola is rarely “The Real Thing” anymore, and the people at Hallmark no longer “Care Enough to Send the Very Best.” But memorable tag lines can be quite useful for companies just starting out that have no pre-existing name or brand equity because they give would-be customers something familiar or interesting to latch onto and can serve as an initial bridge between the company and its target audience.

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Winston_Tony Eboyi is a Project Manager who runs programs on Personal Development and matters Business Branding. www.twicgroup.com

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