The Single Most Important Question to Ask If You Want A Bigger and Better Brand

Have you ever been frustrated with not knowing how to build your brand?

I mean, “everyone” talks about how businesses and entrepreneurs need to “build their brand.” There are plenty of books and courses, conferences and blogs all about branding. Type “branding” into Google and you get 229,000,000 results. Type “branding” into Amazon.com’s book search and you get a whopping 7,592 book results—which is a pretty impressive number if you do the math (i.e. if you were to read one branding book a week, every week of the year, it would take you 153 years to get through that stack of books).

Yet, despite all that talk about branding, how does that help you as a small business owner and/or entrepreneur to build your brand?

Evidently not much because when I ask business owners and entrepreneurs what their brand is, it’s not unusual to get that deer in the headlights look. You know what I’m talking about. They know the word, but describing what their brand is or how they’re actively building their brand … well, that’s another story.

So, let me help you take your next step in your brand building journey by reducing all the clutter around branding to just one idea and one simple question.

A few years ago I wrote a post about what a brand is and isn’t (i.e. a brand isn’t really about a logo or a color). A brand is all about your reputation.

Now, if that’s true (and it is), what is your reputation built on? Exactly. It’s built on trust. So, if a brand is about your reputation and your reputation is built on trust, what do you think the single most important question you need to ask yourself is if you want to build a bigger and better brand? Bingo.

How can we build more trust?

It’s that simple. Logos, colors and style sheets are important to helping people visually connect with your brand. But, ultimately, what builds your brand (or any brand) is trust. So, the more you and your team wrestle with how to build more trust, the better your brand will be.

How can you do that? Well, here a handful of ideas for how you can build more trust with your target market and, by doing so, build a bigger and better brand.

I. Share More Credibility Authenticators (i.e. Trust Builders) With Them

Few things in life are more compelling to a prospect than seeing or hearing results that others have obtained using your product and/or service. Credibility is about trust. An authenticator proves that trust is well-grounded. So, a credibility authenticator is something that can communicate to your prospects that you can be trusted (like a testimonial or tangible result or a third-party endorsement or an award or a case study, etc.).

In other words, brands are built bigger and stronger when someone or some organization outside the referring organization says, “This is a company or product/service you can trust.”

Unfortunately, most businesses are terrible about collecting this kind of data. In fact, when was the last time you shared a credibility authenticator? Even better, when was the last time you asked for one (like a testimonial) or created one (as in a case study)? My guess is it’s been awhile—which means you’re missing out on a critical part of developing of your brand—proof that you’re worthy of trust.

In fact, a great question to ask is,

“If trust is the key to brand building, then how can we prove, to our prospects and customers, that we actually are trustworthy?”

When you answer that question, my guess is that one of your best answer is going to be, “Through sharing our credibility authenticators on a more consistent and predictable basis.” And you’d be right.

So, what credibility authenticators do you need to collect and distribute this quarter?

Remember, the more positive results you show, the faster your brand will grow.

II. Consistently Deliver What You Promise … Every Time

Believe it or not, I’ve been a Mac Addict now for over three decades—and will be for as long as Apple is around. Why? For a number of reasons but one of the simplest and easiest is “It just works” (a la Steve Jobs). Apple’s brand of cool technology that’s innovative and designed well and just works is just that—a product that continually delivers what it promises. By controlling the entire supply chain, everything ”just  works”.

In fact, I’m writing this on my MacBook Pro (Fall 2016 version) and I love it (including the magic bar). When I meet people I’ll say, “Check this out. Isn’t the design gorgeous? Hold this. Isn’t it amazingly light? The speed is incredibly fast. The new keyboard is awesome. Ya da Ya da Ya da.” In other words, I’m a fan because they’ve made a promise and they’ve kept it … over and over again.

In your case, what is it that your “brand” promises? Do you promise speed? Or great customer service? Or innovative products? Or seamless integration? Or quick resolution? Or saving money? Or making money? Or delivering a certain result? Or …

Whatever your promises are, you need to make sure that you and ALL of your employees consistently deliver on those promises. Why? Because a promise that isn’t kept kills trust. Even worse, all it takes is one employee or one botched product to spoil all that brand value you’ve built.

In other words, if you promise to deliver a software patch by Friday at 2:00 p.m. it better be there before 2:00 p.m. (remember, everyone’s watch isn’t synced the same). If it arrives at 5:00 p.m. or next Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. or even worse, the following Friday by 5:00 p.m. a little (or a lot) of trust has been lost.

So where are you not consistently delivering on what you promise? Whatever it is, fix it quickly so you’re back inline with consistently delivering on what you promise.

Trust is built one customer experience on top of another. Do what you say and you’ll build a great reputation and brand.

III. Regularly Share Relevant Content They Perceive Is Beneficial To Them

Notice, I didn’t say, “just share content.” I said, “share relevant content they perceive will be beneficial to them.”

This is another classic small business problem. The tendency for most small businesses is to share content about them (“We just released a new X142 machine that will help you do XYZ) or content that the business thinks is relevant (i.e. If I’m interested in this, then others will be as well). Both of those are unwise choices.

All of us choose to consume content everyday that we perceive is relevant to us. It’s why we all skim newspapers and magazines, as well as website search results and blog posts. All of us skip over 90%+ of our content options and only read those items that we perceive to be relevant to us TODAY and may help us solve a PROBLEM we have (or an interest we have).

This is how you and I get to be trusted authorities in our respective markets. Not by talking about us or about what we’re interested in but by sharing information that’s relevant and beneficial to those we’re trying to reach (i.e. sharing something that helps them solve a problem or meet a need or offers them a new insight or accelerates their goal achievement). When we do that consistently, the people in our target markets begin to believe  that we’re worthy of trust. And that’s when they begin to turn to us for help.

Or to put it another way, part of your brand is built one piece of content on top of another. If you regularly provide content that’s perceived to be irrelevant or motivated by self-interest, your brand will be established as a self-centered brand that’s only focused on getting a sale. If, on the other hand, you continually provide content that helps the people in your target market solve their problems, without them having to pay anything for it, you’ll be perceived as a trusted advisor and a brand worth working with/purchasing from.

So how are you doing at giving lots of value without expecting anything in return? The more relevant content you share that helps your target market prospects solve a problem that they have, the more trust you’ll be building (and hence your brand will be building as well).

IV.  Be Different In Ways That Matter to Them

This is counterintuitive but critical. The natural tendency is to think, “If we want to be successful, we should be doing what others are doing who are currently succeeding.” In other words, modeling or engaging in best practices—which is good advice for certain things—but not when it comes to branding.

In one sense, you would think sameness would build trust (“Hey, this company is just like every other company, so we can trust them”) but it doesn’t work that way. Why? Because if you’re like every other company/solution, and their need isn’t being met or their problem isn’t being solved, then being the same won’t increase their trust  because, “You’ll fail me just like every other company has and I’ll still have this problem.”

When it comes to branding, different is good. For example, I was talking with one of my coaching club members recently about how his franchise was different (he owns several Mosquito Squad territories). As we were discussing it, one of the items he mentioned was that they use a premium chemical blend for their mosquito spraying. I said, “That’s a feature. What’s the benefit?” He said, “Well, it lasts longer.” I said, “How much longer?” He said, “Our spray typically lasts two to three weeks, even if it rains.” “Whoa.” I asked, “What do you mean, even if it rains?”  He said, “Well, most sprayers use a less expensive blend that washes away if it rains, which is why they often have to come out and respray.” I said, “Now, that’s a difference that matters.”

To me, that’s a difference that builds trust (our spray lasts even if it rains … which clearly matters here in the low country of South Carolina because it rains a fair amount here). When I heard that, it automatically made be trust the Mosquito Squad brand because it was both different from it’s competitors and it was different in a way that matters.

Everywhere you go you can see that different matters in branding. For example, my wife is a “The Voice” addict. She loves the show. Every year a number of incredible singers get stage time and they’re all good (unlike “American Idol” where you had a lot of terrible singers competing with good singers, especially through the auditions). But what separates out the best performers from the good performers is always difference. When you hear someone sing a familiar song just like the original, it’s good but not worth buying. However, when they sing a familiar song in a different way—well, that’s remarkable and that’s a brand worth trusting for your music tastes.

So, how are you doing at being different? What is unique about you and your company? And, then, how are you marketing that difference to make sure your prospects know that difference?

Brand building doesn’t have to be so hard. Nor does it have to cost a lot of money. At its core, brand building is about building trust. The more trust you build, the better your reputation. And the better your reputation, the stronger your brand equity will be (and hence, the more faithful your customer base with be).

It all begins begins by asking a simple question on a regular basis, “How can we build more trust?”. Once you do that, you’ll begin to think of ways to make that happen, including the four options we just talked about.

  1. Share more credibility authenticators (i.e. trust builders)
  2. Consistently deliver what you promise every time
  3. Regularly share relevant content they perceive is beneficial to them
  4. Be different in ways that matter to them

So what are you going to do to build more trust this week?

To your accelerated success!

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