8 Ways That Brand Positioning Will Help You Grow Your Business

With the correct brand position, it’s your business driver, helping you to inform your messages about marketing, how your services are shaped and even how you structure your prices.

The success of your business is influenced by strong brand positioning. But many highly competitive companies have difficulty in positioning themselves and explaining why their business matters. It is difficult, but critical, to do this right. Your customers will not know whether to purchase from you or from your competitors if you fail in this.

In short, positioning is the means by which your brand is markedly distinguished from its competitors. It’s all about what you offer, the value and the position you hold in your intended audience’s mind. Defining a clear position allows you to check your perceptions of the market and to improve the position of your product and/or service upon that market.

How can your company benefit from brand positioning? Here are several different ways here:

1. Brand Positioning Differentiates You in the Market

The world doesn’t need more widgets. However, when your company or your products or services provide an unprecedented proposition, solve an unsatisfied need or deliver the desired experience, Brand Positioning will help you differentiate yourself from the crowd.

Brand positioning allows you to stake out a unique territory (e.g., an industry specialty or a highly specialized service offering) for your business where no competitor will dare to venture because they will be labeled as a “me – too” company, just following in your footsteps.

2. Brand Positioning Cuts Through the Noise

A clear brand position allows you to communicate and reach your target audience efficiently and effectively. We are bombarded every day at every corner with marketing and sales messages. Everyone is fighting for your attention. By speaking directly to the people you intend to attract, your Brand Positioning breaks through the clutter in the midst of all this noise. Your brand is seen and heard clearly instead of shouting to an empty room or to a crowd that doesn’t care about you.

Your Brand Positioning breaks through the clutter in the midst of all this noise.

3. Brand Positioning Helps You Become a Specialist

You will be forced to focus your services accordingly by laying claim to a particular feature or benefit through positioning. This, in turn, will make you perceive yourself as an expert in these services, which will increase your value to your prospects. This is especially important because “specialists” are growing twice as fast as companies that describe themselves as “generalists.”

Positioning helps to provide your business development team’s persuasive sales tools to nurture and close more sales. Unique brand positioning enhances the visibility of business and top – of – mind recall for prospects to help drown out the competition.

4. Brand Positioning Makes Choosing Your Business Easier

Consumers want decisions that are easy. To find the right one for them, they don’t want to screen 30 alternatives. They want to know who to trust and what to buy quickly and easily. Brand Positioning deliberately and subconsciously triggers an emotional response from your target audience. If in the shortest amount of time the right levers are pulled, you increase the likelihood that people will decide “yes.”

5. Brand Positioning Allows You to Compete on More Than Just Price Alone

Whether the mass market uses your brand or you offer a high-end luxury item, Brand Positioning will provide you clarity on your specific value. Your value is what you offer to customers, how it best meets their needs, and how insufficient the alternatives that competitors offer are. You have nothing to offer but ambiguity without Brand Positioning. No one values ambiguity (or buys it).

No one values ambiguity (or buys it).

6. Brand Positioning Justifies Your Pricing

Sometimes your brand still needs price justification even when your value is known. Brand Positioning is where you identify your brand and compare it to the competition and its specific offering, informing you that your price point is strategic and justified. Are you more expensive? Less expensive? Is it obvious why? Are consumers going to respond favorably?

Positioning your business against the competition will assist you in deciding what new services to offer and how to price them. Are you a boutique company at a higher price? Or a low-cost, no-frills business? Which new services support this positioning and pricing?

7. Brand Positioning Informs and Improves Your Design

You will have the insight to make more effective decisions throughout the creative process once you have developed the core message needed to promote your brand positioning. Clear positioning drives communication that is clear.

Visual design needs to build a compelling story that involves strong positioning. If you don’t know what your competition uses, how would you know which colors, fonts, or symbols to use? What if, for example, you didn’t know that color influences the taste of consumers for particular foods? It’s not much different than writing good copy, the difference being that you’re communicating and creating perceptions through images.

8. Brand Positioning Empowers Your Brand’s Story and Messaging

How will you be able to write quality copy without knowing your brand positioning? If you don’t understand how your brand is positioned in the marketplace and your customer’s mind, it will be very difficult to write anything meaningful about yourself. Communicating to an audience is almost impossible if you do not accurately understand the uniqueness of your brand or competition you face.

So asses your brand and ask yourself these questions: is your brand positioned to…

Compete with Confidence? A strong starting point helps you understand, recognize and embrace your meaningful difference to the people that matter to your growth. Look at your competitors to see if you need to change your positioning. How will you compete with the other brands that your audience is comparing you to? How can you best position your brand against any new competitors that may sprout up in the market?

Show people the value of your brand? Your positioning should make your brand more meaningful to those who already understand your brand. You need a deep understanding of your target markets in order to create meaning. Did their behaviors, ways of thinking, principles, needs, ambitions, fears, frustrations, joys, and fantasies change? Work to create simple and meaningful positioning that you can tailor to the target markets of your brand. Work to create simple and meaningful positioning that you can tailor to the target markets of your brand. Positioning that doesn’t fit your customer’s needs, and even foresees them, will struggle to remain relevant today.

Standout in the sea of competition? Your brand positioning should give your brand a coherent, recognizable and impactful picture. This picture distinguishes you from your rivals. What are your differences? Have they been changing with the market? What are your key differences as understood by your target audiences and internal teams? Is the differentiation steady and sustainable? Make sure you’re working to own the space that should separate you.

Make smarter and more informed decisions? The positioning of your brand should be a tactical and strategic compass. Consider whether your staff and leaders use your positioning to guide their strategic decisions to make sure of this. If your leaders do not make important decisions that match your positioning, it’s time to reset and align. Your brand will be more competitive and adaptable when you use positioning to make long and short-term decisions. So bear in mind that long-term successful positioning always leaves room for growth.

Brand positioning, done correctly, can make a marketing powerhouse for your business. It can help focus your services, marketing message, and prospects appeal to your business.

Brand positioning, done correctly, can make a marketing powerhouse for your business.

Highly focused positioning allows you to build a powerful and compelling message around specific areas of expertise that will appeal greatly to a targeted audience in need of your premium services. That’s why it’s so important to have a brand positioning strategy. It gives your prospects value, gives them something to be interested in, and ultimately will persuade them to purchase from you.

When it’s all said and done, Brand Positioning is the most crucial singular part of developing a brand by allowing you to define where you fit into the vast sea of your competition.

Real-World Examples of How a Brand Strategy Can Improve Your Business Operations

The power of positioning in an effective brand strategy.

One of the primary misconceptions we fight to overcome is that branding is just about logos and colors. Because of that misconception, some people associate “branding” with the arts and when it comes to making an investment into their business it is seen as a nice-to-have.

What has been interesting over the years of guiding people through our brand development process is the various operational changes that ripple throughout the business. The brand strategy process we take people through literally affects every area of their business.

Before getting into the examples and applications, let’s highlight two of the exercises that are a part of our brand strategy development process.

Understanding Brand Positioning

One of the key exercises in BrandGPS™ is developing the positioning statement. 

What is positioning?

The unique position or point of differentiation that you occupy in the marketplace as understood by your customers.

This should be a clearly articulated set of words that demonstrates who you are and why you are unique. It gives the customer a reason to buy. It should be something that none of your competitors are saying or could say. As you can imagine this can be a challenge.

With an existing business, we are not trying to create something out of thin air. We typically drill down into who they are and what they’re doing and realize that the position has been there for a while. They have just never had the clarity to pull it out and communicate it in a way their customers could recognize.

We have written on this topic more extensively here. Or for a deep dive on the topic, read this book. 

Identifying Position Supporting Actions

You can claim to be the “only” or “best” or “first” in something but if you can’t back it up the damage will be worse than taking no position at all. In guiding our customers through the process we work to develop the list of position supporting actions. Authenticity should be a brand value of every organization. People can sense a phony brand a mile away and will run from organizations that make unkept promises.

If you are building a team, everybody needs to understand your position and exactly what they need to do to support it. This isn’t just tweaking your messaging. Your entire team and operations should be centered around building the right reputation for your business.  

We ask questions like:

  • “What can we do to ensure our audience recognizes our position?”
  • “What operational changes would make our positioning more authentic?”
  • “What are daily, weekly and monthly tasks that will support our position?”

Real-World Examples

See the following examples of positioning statements the drove operational changes: 

“Bringing people together with homestyle recipes.”

This catering company is full of heart and built on the family matriarch affectionately referred to as “Big Mama.” The idea of bringing people together was her mission and the homestyle cooking was usually how it happened. In a sea of cold/sterile corporate catering options, this company stands apart with their warmth and attention to detail. Some of the operational changes that resulted were separating part of their services into a different company.

They had tried to put everything they were doing under one brand and that was causing confusion and muddying the waters for their communication. Another operational change was that they wanted to create a guarantee that when you order with them it will be there on time. If your catering shows up late or incorrect it can cause a lot of unneeded stress at your event whether its a wedding, corporate event, or family gathering. 

“The only partnership-minded experts with a top-down approach to preventing IT problems.”

Through the positioning exercise, this client identified a multi-faceted competitive advantage. Their “secret ingredient” is unmatched by the competition and leads to big wins for their customers—the top-down preventative approach. After identifying the position it became clear that they needed to further develop this system, give it a name, and better communicate it to their customers.

The “partnership-minded experts” position is also driving a more intentional effort to further their IT education. Yearly and quarterly training sessions will help to reinforce the position of experts. Another operational difference that comes from being positioned as “partnership-minded” is the commitment to only proposing the right solutions. Whereas many in the field are taking advantage of their customers’ ignorance by selling unnecessary products to boost profit. 

“We make it easy for you to get the parts you need.”

This client is in a very antiquated industry that is very slow to adapt to the online world we now live in. This company was already ahead of the competition but they wanted to solidify this statement as their battle cry. This drives them to constantly improve how easy they can make it for their customers to get the right parts quickly.

Operational changes that came from that include redesigning the website to be extremely intuitive for looking up parts and improving the checkout process. They also saw that sometimes people don’t know the part number for what they need so they are working on a feature where the customer uploads a picture from their cell phone and the team tracks down what the piece is. 

“Ingredients for sharing life around the table.”

This retailer specializes in spices, herbs, teas, & coffees. Defining the position around sharing life led to several operational moves that help support the position. For instance, the commitment to being family-friendly led them to create a children’s area in the front of the store for kids to learn, color, and enjoy themselves. From a purely business perspective, this could be seen as a waste of valuable and limited retail space. But that is what separates brands you love from brands you forget about. Another operational aspect is creating recipe cards and sample boxes. Whether it’s friends or family, most people love to gather in the kitchen and try new things. The emphasis on “ingredients for sharing life” has enabled multiple brand-enhancing products and ideas. 

Have you defined the positioning statement for your business? Have you developed the supporting actions and operational changes needed to back it up? Is your team equipped with a clear plan and action steps to building the reputation you want?

Talk to a brand strategist at Longitude° to learn more about how you can grow your business by improving your brand.

The Logic of Our Emotions: The Reason People Buy Your Stuff

“When you’re dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic but with creatures of emotion, creatures motivated by pride and vanity.” – Dale Carnegie

Tale of Two Chickens

A few years ago Professor Raj Raghunathan and Ph.D. student, Szu-Chi Huang from the University of Texas conducted an experiment that went something like this: Two separate test groups were presented with a photo of a large, plump chicken. They were also shown a picture of a chicken that was skinny and sickly looking. The test subjects were told that the plump chicken was “all-natural” while the skinny chicken was “genetically modified.”

  • Group 1 was told the plump chicken doesn’t taste as good, but it’s healthier than the skinny one.
  • Group 2 was told the plump chicken tastes better, but the skinny chicken was more healthy.

The groups were then asked to select which chicken they’d want to eat. Both test groups said they’d choose the plump chicken. Their reasoning for this decision was very interesting.

  • Group 1 explained that health is more important than taste.
  • Group 2 explained that taste is more important than health.

However, both groups were wrong. Without realizing it, both groups made their decision based on an emotional connection with the plump chicken established at the beginning of the experiment. Not only did the plump chicken look tastier, but the test subjects were told it was “all-natural” as well. Their logic for deciding to eat the plump chicken was informed and justified in their mind to fit their initial emotional attraction to it.

The Balance of Logic and Emotion

To truly influence, your message needs to center around emotions, while maintaining harmony between logic and feelings. Logic and emotion are the two components that can create powerful influence. We can be influential by using just logic or just emotion, but the impact will be less ideal, short-term, and lacking balance.

Emotions spur decisions and action. They stir up excitement that inspires potential customers to make a purchase. The difficulty with depending solely on emotion to influence your audience is that after they leave your presence and have time to think, their emotions blur, abandoning them without a firm foundation to fall back on.

Logic must be the cornerstone upon which emotions can rest. This ebb and flow of logic and emotion could be known as the two primary driving forces of influence and persuasion. Leaders with strategic brands realize that every person requires a unique balance of logic and emotion. Analytical people may require more logic and less emotion. Other personalities could require more emotion and less logic. Your message must have both elements present – regardless of who is listening.

In high-pressure and persuasive moments, most people will respond with their emotions, then attempt to justify their decisions with logic or facts. A message that is centered on emotions will regularly set off red flags on the logical side of our brain. While a logical message, with no interest in an emotional side, won’t create a strong connection or the desired response with our audience. A great brand message will find a good balance of logic and emotion with the ultimate goal to create meaningful connections.

We are convinced by reason, however, we are compelled by emotion.

Studies have shown that close to 90 percent of the choices people make are founded on emotion. We then attempt to swap our emotions for logic in order to justify our decisions to ourselves and to other people. Emotions will almost always beat logic and our imagination will always defeat reality. If you don’t believe me, talk to a child about being afraid of the dark, or to someone else about fear of heights – it’s impossible to use logic to convince them that their fear is unfounded. No matter how many facts or stats you share with them, they will still be certain that their fear is completely valid.

The Best Brands Balance Logic and Emotions

As you build an influential brand, you need to know how to find the delicate balance between Logic and Emotions. Understanding these two powerful things will help you build stronger, healthier, and trustworthy relationships with your audience. It will also help you know the important factors that your audience considers when making a purchase. You’ll understand what people are feeling, what negative emotions they’re trying to avoid, and being able to leverage those emotions to persuade and attract them to your brand. By building a powerful brand you’ll understand when and how to use emotion to trigger specific responses, and then how to balance that emotion with facts and logic to back it up. This is all part of building a strong narrative, and clear message that brings your story to life.

 

5 Ways to Build an Influential Brand that Every Leader Needs to Know

The bottom line – as a business owner you want your business to grow. If you don’t, then you should probably question whether or not you should be a business owner. What’s the most common indicator that your business is growing? You’re making more money.

This is true for every business, non-profit, and individual. People don’t like to talk about making money, but the truth is we need money to operate. But what’s the best way to earn more money? It may be tempting to start throwing out tactics, buzzwords, and strategies like: “You need to innovate”, “You must diversify”, “You need to penetrate the market”, “You need to build a sales funnel”, “You need more Instagram followers”….  yadda, yadda, yadda.

Don’t get me wrong, these are all valid methods to consider and could play a large part in how you operate your business. But, for a business owner who’s growth has flat-lined and is struggling to keep up, “penetrating the market” means nothing. If you’re tired of just surviving as a business and ready to start thriving, I’ve got good news for you – it may be more simple than you think. Humor me if you will, and allow me to give you a more simplified answer to the question, “How can I grow my business?”

For your business to grow and make more money you need…

  1. More people to buy more of your stuff.
  2. More people to tell more of their friends to buy more your stuff.
  3. To invest more in methods that will get more people to do both of the above.

It may sound simple, but for most businesses who are struggling to gain traction – these three things seem like an unreachable goal. The reality is that for most small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) achieving these three things is easier than you may think. This brings up an important question that I’m sure you’re asking yourself: “Yeah, that sounds great and all, but what’s the best way to accomplish those three things?” It’s a simple answer, influence.

Building an influential brand for your business could be the best decision you have yet to make.

Understanding Influence

We’ve worked with many SMB’s over the years, and we’ve found a common trait shared among the ones who are struggling – a brand strategy is either underutilized or completely absent. That’s unfortunate because a strategic brand plays a vital role in virtually every aspect of your business. It can have a huge impact on your reputation, customer experiences, employee onboarding and engagement, important decision-making, gaining support for your vision…  and yes – influencing people to buy your stuff.

Let me make something clear – when I say influence, I do not mean “manipulate.”

Influence vs. Manipulation

Influence – the process of getting someone else to want to believe, do, think, or react the way you want them to. This approach encourages your audience to feel inspired, excited, and harbor warm feelings about you. It makes your audience feel like you care about their needs, and genuinely want to help them.

Manipulation – exerting devious influence over a person for your own advantage. This method creates anxiety, stress, or discomfort for your audience with the goal of getting them to take an action. This makes your audience feel guarded, and like you don’t care about their needs.

Both methods work in their own way. However, there are key differences in the outcomes.

Influencers…

Manipulators…

  • Seek to understand not to convince.
  • Communicate clearly.
  • Listens to their audience.
  • Relates to the emotions of their audience.
  • Care about the relationship.
  • Ask plenty of questions.
  • Focus on gaining a loyal customer.
  • Seeks to convince not understand
  • Communicate ambiguously.
  • Talks to their audience.
  • Control the emotions of their audience.
  • Care about the transaction.
  • Don’t ask questions.
  • Focus on landing another customer.

It’s easy to see how being an influential brand will help your business grow. Now let’s begin to dissect how you can begin to build an influential brand for yourself.


 

The Building Blocks of an Influential Brand

1. Tell Your Story

Your story is the most human element of your business, yet it’s typically the last thing people bring up when they approach customers. Your story will begin a natural conversation with your customers. It’s this story that will show them that you care about more than just landing a sale.

Start with “Why?” Next time you are making a sales pitch start with answering the question “why?” Tell them why you do what you do, and why it excites you. This will give people something to relate to. It will also show them that you are passionate about what you do, and believe in its value – instilling confidence in them. Sharing your “why” is only one aspect of your story. Another aspect is the story of your brand.

The Story of Your Brand. Every good story has a beginning, middle, and end. This 3-part approach is the natural progression of your brand story as well:

  1. Beginning (the Problem): Explain the problem that your audience faces.
  2. Middle (the Solution): Clearly explain how you solve this problem.
  3. End (the Success): Show the results and success your customers can experience.

Create a compelling story. You want your audience to feel like you’ve read their journal, and you understand their deepest thoughts. Really knowing the people that you’re talking to will all your message to stir up their intrinsic motivations. This will help you to influence people not because of what you do, but because of how what you do can help them. Telling your brand story can be one of the easiest entry points for building an influential brand.

2. Know What Makes You Different

Understand your position in the market. It’s hard to be an influential brand if you can’t clearly explain and defend what makes you different, and why someone should choose you over the competition. Many business owners mistake the quality of their product or service as their positioning. Simply stating, “we have the best quality products,” or “we have the best customer service” isn’t enough to communicate how your business is different.

“we have the best quality products,” or “we have the best customer service” usually isn’t enough to communicate how your business is different.

Instead, try and pinpoint 1 or 2 specific and relevant aspects of your business that are completely unique in your industry or region – lean into those. Maybe it’s not the fact that you have quality products, but the process you use to ensure that every product manufactured meets your quality standards. Maybe it’s not the fact that you have the “best customer service”, but the fact that you guarantee a quality experience or you’ll give your customer a full refund.

Check out your competition. It’s important to do some competitive review, to see how your competition is positioning themselves. However, be sure to find something that is different than your competition. If you simply try to copy what’s working for them, you’ll find yourself getting lost in the market, and that’s a sure-fire way to not build an influential brand.

3. Make it Personal

Get personal with it. Know who you are talking to. Remember, “People do business with people.” Ask yourself, “What motivates them? What discourages them? What gets them up in the morning? What keeps them up at night?” Seek to truly understand your audience, and how you can best serve them.

This also involves getting face-to-face with your audience. Go where they are. Attend the same conferences, seminars, networking groups, or workshops that they attend. Doing this will not only help you make in-person connections but will also give you valuable insight into the industry or demographic that you’re targeting. It could help uncover areas that your business could improve to provide a better value to your customers.

Your brand messaging should be focused on your customer, not on you.

Your message. Your brand messaging should be focused on your customer, not on you. What I mean by this is that you should talk less about “I” (you the business owner), and more about “you.” (the customer). This will help you in your effort to make a connection with your customers, not just talking to them. Let’s face it, no one wants to hear about how great you are all the time.

4. Be Consistent and Clear

The value of consistency. Brand consistency is another simple approach that pays huge dividends. We’ve written about the importance of consistency in the past, but it’s worth mentioning over and over. Be consistent.

Put brand message and identity guidelines in place. This is why all BrandGPS clients receive a Brand Guidelines Handbook. It’s a vital piece to maintaining brand consistency across all customer touchpoints, as well as maintaining internal clarity around your brand values, message, and story.

Consistency earns visibility, visibility earns credibility, credibility earns trust, trust earns loyalty.

5. Be Authentic

These days, “being authentic” is one of the most common buzz-words to describe a business attempting to relate to millennials, or be relevant to modern culture. Despite the negative connotation that “being authentic” has recently earned, there is a real purpose in being an authentic brand. Building an authentic brand requires time and effort spent on keeping your promises, and ensuring that your messaging aligns with what you do.

The 3 pillars that play the part in building a healthy and influential brand are:

  1. How you look
  2. What you say
  3. What you do

If any of these three aren’t aligned, you risk being seen as an inauthentic brand, which can be extremely harmful to your business. A good example of this is when United Airlines responded to a passenger being pulled off a plane with two different messages – the messages contradicted each other, and caused public confusion. The mixed signals created a sense of distrust among the public and did further harm to the brand of United Airlines.

Actions speak louder than words. It should go without saying, but don’t claim to be something you’re not. Don’t make promises or claims you can’t deliver on, and be sure that what you say to your audience is exactly what they’re getting. If you claim to have the best customer service experience, and you have heaps of 1-star reviews saying otherwise, no one will take your brand seriously. You’ll never gain the trust of people if you’re not keeping promises, and you can kiss the idea of customer loyalty good-bye.

Building an authentic brand gives people a reason to care.

A Final Word

These five things play an important role in building a brand that is influential. I can’t stress enough the importance of a brand strategy for your business. If your business is struggling to get to the next level, gaining traction in your market, earning customer trust and loyalty, or simply getting beat by your competition – then you need a brand strategy.

An influential brand, like the ones we help our customers build through BrandGPS, is an investment you won’t regret.

 

Your Personal Brand is Important

Why do you need a Personal Brand?

If someone asked you to quickly identify your unique contributions to your business, backed up with supporting evidence, would you be able to do that without batting an eye?

Most people can see the importance of branding in regards to their business. It’s obvious that creating a strong brand is vital to every business. A well-built brand strategy can give you a huge advantage over your competition. However, people often miss the mark when it comes to clearly identifying who they are, what their values are, what they stand for, and how they are uniquely skilled and equipped to help a business grow.

Personal branding may seem odd, uncomfortable, or even vain – but the practice of building a personal brand should not be overlooked by any entrepreneur, professional, or aspiring leader. If approached properly, the process of creating a personal brand can give you a calm confidence as you establish priorities in your life and career, and plan out the journey ahead.

Creating a personal brand can give you a calm confidence as you establish priorities in your life, and plan out the journey ahead.

The fact of the matter is, you’re going to have a personal brand – whether you’re in control of it or not. Your personal brand is shown in every blog post you write, every twitter post you share, and every email you send. If left unclear or undefined, people will make their own assumptions about who you are, why you do what you do, and what you represent.

However, if you can take control of your own personal brand you’re the one writing the story. You decide the narrative. You are the one with the pencil and paper – sharing only what you want your audience to see. Wouldn’t you rather be the one in the driver’s seat?

If that fact alone isn’t enough to convince you, here are some other benefits to expect when building a personal brand:

  • Establish your value outside of your current career or job title
  • Pinpoint how to present the best you
  • Appreciate your strengths and weaknesses
  • Create a following of others who share common values
  • Gain confidence
  • Show your value through your efforts
  • Clearly define your niche
  • Lay a foundation of credibility
  • Position yourself outside of the norm
  • Impart your values with clear messaging

How do you create a personal brand?

So you want to start creating a personal brand; where do you begin? Well for starters, you’ll need to set aside enough time in a distraction-free environment. Be committed, and ready to focus on diving deep into your own understanding of yourself. Turn off your phone. Put away the computer. All you need is a pencil and paper.

It’s worth noting that as you begin constructing your personal brand, you need to be sure that you’re being honest with yourself. You are the one that has to live up to your personal brand. If you aren’t honest with yourself, it’ll lead you to live a life that isn’t authentic, which will result in sending mixed signals to others. This forces you to live a phony life and does great harm to your brand.

You are the one that has to live up to your personal brand.

1. Writing Your Vision Statement

Ask these questions separately for work and personal:

  1. “At my core, what do I value most?”
  2. “What interests me the most and what am I most passionate about?”
  3. “Where does my motivation come from?”
  4. “What makes me the happiest?”

After you’ve written these answers down, next write out a personal vision statement. It should be concise, strong, and true. This will statement will only be seen by you and may change over time, so don’t spend too much time waxing eloquent.

Here is an example of a personal vision statement:

Personal:

“My personal vision… is that my life is one of intentional purpose – for myself and others. It’s important that I live a life of kindness, love, compassion, and concern for others. By listening to others, and serving others, I want to gain new insights, learn new things, and gain an understanding of different perspectives.”

Career:

“My vision for my career… is one of constant improvement and continual learning. I want others to feel confident around me and yet challenged to do better when they are with me. I want to work with people who share similar ambitions, and values. Most importantly, I want every person I interact with to feel like I’ve helped them in some way. I never want to be a dead end for anyone. I want to be thought of as thoughtful and wise.”

2. Planning How to Reach Your Goals

Now that we’ve defined who you are and what you value at your core, it’s time to define some goals and outline how you’re going to achieve those goals. These next steps will guide you through creating the goals, and then deciding what you need to do in order to reach those goals, what you should be focusing your energy and effort on, and who you should be surrounding yourself with.

To discover your goals, ask yourself these questions:

  1. “What do I need to achieve in my life/career?”
  2. “What do I want to achieve in my life/career?”
  3. “Being successful in the short-term, what does that look like to me?”
  4. “Being successful in the long-term, what does that look like to me?”

As you write these down, you may find that many of these goals may not be connected to wealth or status, but rather happiness and fulfillment. That’s a good sign. It means that you’re being authentic, and honest.

Now that you’ve listed out your goals, you need to determine how you will achieve them. So next ask:

  1. “What are my best strengths?”
  2. “What are my worst weaknesses?”
  3. “Why am I unique?”
  4. “What are certain characteristics or competencies that make me stand out?”
  5. “Who are the people that energize me, bring me joy, and challenge me to do better?”
  6. “Who are the people that drain me, stress me out, and bring only strife?”

After you’ve taken inventory of your skills, expectations, and abilities, now you can prioritize the various pieces and types of people that will help you reach your goals – and also understand who and/or what you should avoid that may hold you back from reaching these goals.

You may find it hard to answer honestly or feel strange about some of your answers. If so, you may think about asking a close family member, or friend to help you answer some of them in an honest way. Ask them to be brutally honest. If they are sugar-coating the answers, it will just further complicate the process, and lead you down the wrong path.

The Evolution of a Personal Brand

Creating your personal brand takes time, effort, and constant evolution. Your personal brand must evolve with you – through life changes, career changes, or changes in your ambitions.

Personal branding isn’t a one-time event. You don’t simply wake up one morning with a personal brand that is well-established and respected. Instead, it’s an ongoing task that takes commitment, tons of effort, and requires consistency. But, it’s the best way to tell your story and cultivate the reputation you want.

At the end of the day, curating your personal brand is a continuous journey of defining your mission and vision, and ensuring that your sights are aimed in the direction you want to go.

So start the journey.

[Survey] How Strategic is Your Brand?

In a recent survey of small business owners, we aimed to find out how many businesses truly have a strategic brand. Some of the responses were troubling.

  • Lack of brand values. Almost 40% of businesses didn’t have clearly defined brand values or were unsure about what that even was.
  • Confusion. Over 30% of businesses thought that people were confused about what their brand represented.
  • Better than your competition? 1/3 of businesses couldn’t clearly define what made them any better than the competition.
  • Internal brand guidelines. Almost 70% of businesses had no internal document for their brand guidelines, to help them maintain consistent visuals and messaging.
  • A brand that attracts a buyer. Over 60% of businesses weren’t confident that their business’ brand was powerful enough to attract a buyer for their company.
  • Brand audit. 70% of business owners say they’ve never done an internal audit of their brand.
  • Customer surveys. 70% of businesses said they had never surveyed their customers in an effort to better understand and connect with them.

And the most alarming stat we found…

  • Ineffective marketing efforts. 100% of businesses said that they felt like their marketing efforts aren’t as effective as they could be…. 100%. 10 out of 10 small business owners. Crazy, right?

(Want to see how your brand ranks? Try the Brand Evaluator tool)

Weak Foundations Will Crumble

Our findings seem to fall in line with our own anecdotal evidence we’ve seen first hand over the years. Business owners are struggling. Many of them don’t have defined values, leaving them in a constant state of confusion–with no identity to align with. They’re causing confusion in the market and don’t know how to relate with their audience.

The reason it’s so troubling is that the very struggles that many business owners have can be easily traced back to a lack of a brand strategy. When you inject a strategic framework into your business, which gives you tools to make more informed and thoughtful decisions regarding building your brand – many problems that you once had, seem to fade away.

Having a strong and strategic foundation simplifies everything.

In fact, this has been echoed by a number of our BrandGPS customers. After guiding them through our process, our customers can’t believe the improvements they see to their business. Often times, almost immediately. Having a strong and strategic foundation simplifies everything. Decisions that once seemed difficult, now have an obvious answer. The feeling that you’re wasting money on marketing efforts starts to fade.

Garbage In, Garbage Out

You’ve probably heard this said before – garbage in, garbage out. The time, effort, focus, and money that you put into something will be directly tied to the results that you get out of it. This principle manifests in our personal lives, as well as the business world.

If I told you that I wanted to have a six-pack, and a chiseled beach body in 3 months, but then proceed to tell you that my diet would consist of pizza and chocolate shakes, and my exercise would be doing 1 push-up each day – you’d probably laugh at me, wouldn’t you? It would be absurd to expect such great results while putting in such minimal and pitiful effort.

It would be absurd to expect such great results while putting in such minimal and pitiful effort.

How often do our actions not align with our expected results?

  1. You’ll pay your buddy from college $100 to design your logo, and then expect to reap the benefits of a world-class brand strategy.
  2. You won’t spend 30 minutes to create a basic survey to send to your customers to better understand them, and then wonder why your messaging and communication isn’t connecting with your audience.
  3. You’ll wonder why you don’t seem to be attracting as many customers as you thought when you slap your $100 logo on a $10,000 sign.

Whether it’s a priority to you, or not… whether you are intentional about it, or not… whether you think it’s important, or not… you will have a brand. That brand is your reputation. If your reputation is causing confusion, and sending the wrong message to customers, there’s no amount of clever marketing tactics or catchy advertising campaigns that will save you. And as you frantically try and figure out a solution to why your business is slowly slipping out of your control, you’ll waste a lot of time and money along the way.

Branding on a Budget of $0

We hear this a lot. “Your BrandGPS process sounds awesome, and I can really see the value and how it could help my business… but…”

  • “We just can’t afford it.”
  • “We have other priorities right now.”
  • “Maybe it’s something we can implement later on.”
  • “We really just need a logo right now.”

These are not good reasons to give up on branding for your business. Even if you can’t afford to hire a professional branding agency like Longitude°, you can still be strategic in your branding. We’ve written a number of articles that could help get you started on the right path, as well as published a free guide called “The Business of Branding.” These types of resources should be utilized and implemented in your business.

There’s plenty that you can do to grow your business into a powerful and profitable brand. Don’t give up on building the brand you want, simply because you don’t believe you can afford it.

Here’s Why You’re Getting Beat by the Competition

The most profitable companies in the world make huge investments toward improving their brand and reputation; often spending millions to get it just right. Yet for many small businesses owners, branding is an afterthought. Why is this?

In this article, I’ll dispel some common misconceptions you may have about branding that could be harming your business. You’ll also learn about how a brand strategy (like the ones we develop through our BrandGPS™ process) could be one of the best investments you could make for your business.

Your Competition Is Winning, Here’s Why…

There’s a disease of misinformation spreading throughout the world of business. It’s plaguing small businesses and startups from every industry. If not caught early, then it could do great harm to your business.

Your competition thrives on your ignorance and they want you to stay misinformed.

Your competitors would prefer that you continue doing business as usual – fighting the uphill battle and constantly spinning your wheels. They don’t want you to be privy to certain best business practices, tricks of the trade, innovative ideas, or powerful marketing tactics. As brand guides, we see the results of this common complacency on a daily basis. Yet, more often than not, this disease can be cured through some education and awareness. With knowledge comes power.

Could You Be Misinformed?

The following statements shine a light on the fact that many people have a flawed understanding of what a brand is and how a brand strategy can benefit virtually every business. If you’ve found yourself saying any of the following statements, there’s a very high chance that you could be misinformed – and quite possibly doing great harm to your business without knowing.

MYTH #1: “There’s no clear ROI to branding.”

TRUTH: The fact is, there is plenty of examples of how proper branding, guided by a professional branding agency, can have a great return on investment. We’ll mention a few below.

MYTH #2: “It’s a nice-to-have, but not that important.”

TRUTH: There’s ample evidence to show that a brand strategy is not just a “nice-to-have” for your business, but a necessary step. If you view branding as just a decoration, or an “optional add-on” it’s time to step into the 21st century and stop running your business like you live in the 1950s.

The climate of the marketplace has changed, and consumers have changed with it. It’s not enough anymore to just say that you have the best prices or best quality stuff. Consumers are smarter and more engaged than ever. They will judge you based on how you look, what you say, and what you do. If any of those three pieces aren’t aligned, then you’ll be ignored.

You need to connect with consumers, not just talk about how awesome you are. They need to know who you are, what you do, what you stand for, and believe it. Developing a strategic brand should be one of the first steps in almost every business.

MYTH #3: “We just can’t afford it.”

TRUTH: In reality, you can’t afford to not have a brand strategy. But if you are an existing business, and truly don’t have any funds to invest in growing your business – then that could be a huge indicator that you need a brand strategy. A brand strategy can be one of the most important investments you make into your business. Implementing these principles, standards, and guidelines for your business can make you more profitable; making the initial investment of hiring a professional brand agency seem small.

MYTH #4: “We can hire ACME Agency to design a logo for half the price.”

TRUTH: This could be one of the most common, and most troubling misconceptions that surround branding. This antiquated idea is plaguing the world of startups and small businesses. Many people believe that spending a few hundred dollars to hire a logo designer will provide the same benefits as a going through an in-depth, comprehensive brand strategy process like BrandGPS™ – This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Investing in a brand strategy and professional brand identity is one of the most important decisions you can make.

Benefits of Branding

Your brand is the public’s response to how you look, what you say, and what you do. Without a brand strategy and professional brand identity, you’re probably missing 2 out of 3 vital pieces that make for a great brand. Implementing a brand strategy and brand identity (like the ones we provide with BrandGPS™) provides a ton of incredible benefits, uses, and tools to help your business grow – like crazy. The list below is not complete by any means, but will give you just a taste of some of the benefits you can expect after improving your approach to branding.

1. A Customer Magnet

People really want an easy connection to the brands they love. A great brand is a great reputation. It lets someone know they can trust your business to deliver the best services or products, all the time. You brand bridges the gap between your business and your customers; strengthening their resolve to do business with you. Often times this can increase metrics for your business such as conversion rates, or average order value.

2. Customer Loyalty Sky-rockets

Great and intentional branding is one of the most effective ways to increase customer loyalty. When people have a memorable experience with your brand, they will remember your brand, not only your product or service. People put their trust in brands, not products. So if your brand can connect with your customers emotionally, and build trust, chances are you’ll have a customer for life.

3. Your Message Connects

If created well, a brand strategy and identity can provide an incredible channel of communication with your audience. Your brand can inform people about your company’s value, your defining message, and unique characteristics. Things like these will help consumers connect to your business, and easily be able to identify your products vs. your competition’s. It’s important to know your customer intimately. What drives them? What motivates them? Once you find this out, design your brand strategy and identity accordingly – and growing your business is almost inevitable.

4. You Look Like a Better Choice

Do consumers know what sets you apart from your competition? Believe it or not, most people won’t just pay you money because you say that you do the best work, you provide the best quality, you’re the most affordable, and you’re just plain awesome. A real brand strategy will give you the right messaging to clearly communicate the value of your offering. Without this positioning statement, your business will just fall into the sea of a thousand competitors. A well-thought-out brand strategy will set your brand apart from the crowd, and even if the competition tries to copy you – it will just further establish and solidify your value in the consumer’s mind.

5. Who Doesn’t Like More Money?

If I offered to give you an additional 23% revenue this year but asked you to give me a small fraction of that amount in return, what would you say? You’d say yes; it’d be a no-brainer. It’d be absurd to say no.

Yet this is exactly what many businesses are doing every single year by not investing in a brand strategy, and getting consistent with their approach. Brand consistency is extremely important, and a pillar of any solid brand strategy.

There have been studies that show brands who are consistent can experience a 23% increase in their revenue, on average. That’s a pretty crazy stat, isn’t it? How would it make you feel to see your revenue increased by 23%? It’d probably feel pretty good, right?

Think about this for your own business. Ask yourself the following:

  1. What do I estimate my revenue to be over the next 12 months?
  2. Multiply that number by 0.23.
  3. That’s how much money you’re throwing away each year by not implementing a brand strategy and maintaining a consistent brand.

So for example, a business making $100,000 annually will lose $23,000 per year by not having an effective and consistent brand strategy in place.

There’s a Better Option

The news is in. You need a brand strategy for your business. If your business doesn’t have one or the one you have is ineffective, get in touch with us.

We’ve worked with many very sharp, forward-thinking owners and entrepreneurs from a variety of industries; guiding them through our 4-step brand development process called, BrandGPS™.

Over the course of 4-6 weeks, we help you establish a solid brand strategy for your business; helping bring alignment to your business goals and marketing efforts. It gives you the right look to attract more ideal customers and ensures that your brand is sending the right message.

What this provides for a company like yours is a clear and consistent connection with people, and quite frankly this often means an increase in your profits. It comes as no surprise to us that many of the business owners we’ve partnered with have expressed that BrandGPS™ is the best investment they’ve made for their business.

Communication Without Connection

Great communication should create a connection, not just relay information.

con·nec·tion – a relationship in which a person, thing, or idea is linked or associated with something else.

com·mu·ni·ca·tion – the imparting or exchanging of information or news.

People don’t communicate through words alone, but primarily by emotional exchanges.  This is why branding matters and is so important to businesses.

Studies show that our brain makes judgments about what someone is saying based on their “emotional tone” or rather: body language, eye contact, facial expressions, how distracted they are, and the tone of their voice. We make these judgments before our brain even begins to interpret the meaning of the words we’re hearing or seeing.

1. Connection Makes for Better Communication

As a business owner, you need people to hire you, buy your product, or service; but if you’re only focused on convincing people to buy your stuff,  you’re doing yourself a great disservice. Great businesses focus on truly understanding their customer’s perspective, needs, and desires – doing their best to build a connection with them. If you only focus on your communication technique or savvy marketing campaigns, you can certainly fail to connect with people. Even worse, you could even communicate that you are disingenuous; causing even more harm to your reputation.

Too many businesses start trying to communicate before they ever try to connect. Here are just a few downsides of communication absent of connection:

  • People are turned off by you before they ever give you a chance.
  • Your logo or brand identity conveys a different message than you want. People view you as 2nd-class, the cheapest option, a low-quality business, or just don’t understand your business at all.
  • You invest a ton of money in a marketing agency, or on an ad campaign and don’t see any ROI.

Improve your emotional awareness towards your customer and the right words will follow, but it won’t work the other way around.

When you genuinely care about your audience, you will feel more connected to them. And when there is a good connection, good communication comes naturally. Being disconnected makes for poor communication – and no tricky marketing techniques or big budget ad campaign will change that.

2. Connection Fosters Trust

When a customer doesn’t feel connected to your business, the use of communication tricks and techniques makes them feel manipulated. The more you try to over-communicate, it will make it worse. A person will likely feel that there is a hidden agenda; they’ll believe that your goal is not in their best interest, but rather you’re attempting to get them to do what you want.

This is not a good place to be at as a business owner. But all too many business owners find themselves in this position. Your best chance at building healthy relationships with your audience is to do everything you can to connect with them in ways that don’t seem forced. Subtle ways.

Are you building a connection with your audience? Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the first impression they have of your business?
  • How does your logo make them feel, or what does it tell them about your business?
  • Do they believe that you truly understand their needs and desires?
  • Are you engaging in a way that’s familiar and comfortable to them, or does it feel forced?

 

A great brand strategy will create a connection.

 

3. Refocusing Your Business

To begin making a better connection to people start by refocusing. Don’t focus on how to get someone to do what you want.

Rather focus on…

  • Listening to people, not just talking about how great your business is
  • Being genuinely curious to learn about people, their perspective, their troubles, their desires
  • Ensuring that you understand their motivations
  • Improving your product or service to provide people the most value and features that they really want

Remember, you must convey that you care about people and that you truly care about providing them an immense value. If you fall short of this, your connection to them will be lost – what you say to them won’t matter, they won’t care about how awesome you say your product or service is, and your message will fall on deaf ears.

Great communication should create a connection, not just relay information.

In Conclusion

Forget about convincing customers through tricky communication methods. Get connected with your audience right now. It starts with truly caring about people, and beginning to see that your brand is not just a logo or a catchy tagline – It’s your reputation. It’s how you make people feel.

Connecting with your audience will help you to communicate better. More importantly, you will show people you care – which will increase loyalty to your brand.

You will actually experience what it means to have a great product or service that helps people, rather than just talking about it.

 


Want to Make a Stronger Connection?

Find out how BrandGPS by Longitude° can help your business grow. Learn More

 

 

Rebranding Longitude°

Longitude° has evolved a lot over the past few years. With change comes the question of whether your identity is reflecting the brand correctly. Just as a person dresses and acts in a way that reflects their values and motivations, an authentic company should make sure that the inner workings and outer appearance align.

 

 

The strategic shift

In the past year, the focus of Longitude° has changed from just brand identity design to a strategy-first approach. In working with clients, I have seen the tremendous value of the brand strategy workshops. Moving forward, Longitude° will put a much greater focus on brand strategy.

Helping companies understand who they are, who their audience is and how to communicate properly is a necessary and vital step in a successful design process.

What does this look like practically? Before the pencil hits the sketchbook there is a strategic process that clients must go through. This is usually accomplished through strategy workshops. Together, we walk through exercises and worksheets to define aspects of the brand. Desired perceptions, brand values, ideal customer, positioning statement, pillars of positioning, value proposition and validation research.

Over the past year, clients have been experiencing the results of this process and it has added so much value for their organizations.

The design solution

Design is a tool. It is not decoration or a necessary evil. It is properly using visual aids to evoke emotions, communicate values and reflect your strategy.

The previous logo and identity no longer communicated the proper message and position. I knew that a change was coming and have been working towards this for a while.

The name Longitude° was born out of the desire to help brands understand where they are, where they want to get, and partner with them along that journey. This mission has not changed; it’s only become more clear. For this reason, the name Longitude° will remain.

The new wordmark is set in a serif font that looks more like a mature strategic consultancy. It is intended to communicate a higher level of detail and purpose. The new mark is set in dark gray instead of blue. This color should look more sophisticated and more versatile when presented alongside other brands.

The new brand mark is a simple set of lines based on the lines of latitude and longitude. The goal is to be simple, refined and meaningful.

 

 

In the past eight years, Longitude° has been privileged to work with brands all over the world. I’m excited to continue growing alongside you and making the world a more enjoyable place.

-Dustin Myers

 


 

Dustin Myers is a brand strategist and designer who has owned and operated Longitude° since 2010. He has had the privilege of consulting with brands all over the world, helping their businesses grow through clear communication. He lives in Springfield, MO with his wife Lauren and their three children.

Schedule A Free Strategy Call

5 Steps to Building An Elite Brand

1. Understand that your “brand” is not your logo

Your brand is not your logo. This misconception leads to much confusion and missed opportunities. Every time you hear “brand” think “reputation.” Your brand is how you’re perceived in the marketplace. And you will have a brand whether or not you invest effort to cultivate it.

Your brand is made up of the sum of your customer interactions. Contributors to your brand include your products, how you treat your customers, the environmental design, your logo and signage, your online presence, and more.

The average person is exposed to 6,000 advertisements each day. That sounds overwhelming, right? The point is that you have to keep it simple and consistent. Your brand has to rise above the noise and make an emotional connection with the consumer.

This can’t happen without understanding the pitfalls and hacks that will affect the future of your brand. Elite brands require investment and hard work, but the process is fairly simple once you know the steps.

2. Decide what type of brand you’re going to be

There are two types of brands, weak brands, and elite brands. Weak or poor brands suffer from what I call the cloud of confusion.

This is the default place to be. As you can see in the illustration, you have all of these elements floating around. None of them are focused on a clear message. There is no synergy. Each time you want to run a promotion, you feel like you’re reinventing the wheel. Your social media posts lack clarity and cohesiveness.

If you have a weak brand, you will experience some or all of these issues:

  • Your customers aren’t telling their friends about you.
  • Your messaging is all over the place and you keep trying things hoping something will stick.
  • Your advertising efforts fall flat and don’t get the results you need.
  • You are not really known in the community for anything.
  • You never know if you’re going to have a good week or a bad week.
  • You can’t clearly articulate why you’re better than the competition. No one knows the deeper reason behind why you do what you do.

This is the status quo. This is where most small businesses are at.

Weak brands don’t just struggle with the day-to-day. Think about the larger implications:

  • Do you dream of one day selling your business for a profit? Business owners don’t want to buy a weak brand.
  • Do you want the freedom to get away and trust that your employees would run things correctly? Employees don’t take pride and ownership in working for a weak brand.
  • Do you want to feel good about your brand knowing that you’re making your competitors jealous?

Weak brands are diluted at best, and repulsive at worst.

There is a better way. There are principles that the successful companies understand and you can put those to practice in your business.

Now, look at the diagram of an elite brand. There are two components that make all of the difference. Brand Strategy and Brand Identity Design.

This is a well-defined, cohesive system that looks nothing like the cloud of confusion. You have the right strategy at the core, then you have the identity design that embodies the strategy. Then all of your touch points are rooted in a cohesive, strategic way. There’s a ripple effect that gains momentum with every execution.

All of your touch points are flowing from the core of your strategy and design. It takes the guesswork out of every new thing you do. This is how you need to start viewing everything you do.

3. Develop the right strategy

The strategy is the first and all-important component of your brand. Strategic brand positioning is the key. Without a well-defined strategy, you’re doomed to the cloud of confusion.

Elite brands stand for something larger than what they sell.

If you’re going to make the emotional connection and create a solid core, you need to spend time defining your “why” statement. At the end of the day, people buy from people. Your strategy should be authentic. You need to figure out why you do what you do and communicate that to your customers.

An effective brand strategy should clearly explain: 

  • Brand Personality and Characteristics
  • How you want to be perceived in the marketplace
  • Target Audience Needs and Desires
  • What makes you completely unique
  • Why you do what you do and how that benefits the customer
  • The action steps you can take to support your position.
  • How you will communicate all of this internally and externally.

Defining a clear strategy is the first step in keeping you out of the cloud of confusion.

4. Use design as a tool to communicate your strategy

Without a strategy, design is merely decoration. A new logo will not change your brand. Wait, so design isn’t important? That’s not true either.

Design is how you can differentiate yourself. Design is how you can communicate your value. 

Design is the easiest way to communicate that you are committed to quality and somewhere people can trust. Design is how you become recognizable and memorable. Design is how you can capture the interest of your target audience. There are so many subtle cues in design that can communicate on a subconscious, emotional level. We live in a visual culture. People scroll social media for hours each day. Much of our perceptions are based on how things appear.

Good design plays a vital role in an elite brand. 

Design is a tool that should communicate:

  • What values are important to you as a brand.
  • What type of experience your customer should expect.
  • Why you’re different than the competition.
  • That you care about quality.
  • That you care about the customer’s needs.

Design isn’t a necessary evil and it shouldn’t be mere decoration. If done strategically, it will be a tool to carry out business objectives and increase your bottom line.

5. Execute with consistency

Now that you’ve got the first two layers down, you can begin to see the results. There is an inevitable snowball effect.

  • Advertising ROI will increase because you’re now investing in the right message and getting it to the right person.
  • Customer loyalty will grow because now they have something to believe in and identify with.
  • Employee morale will improve because you are all in agreement on why you do what you do.
  • Your reputation in the marketplace will begin to become stronger because it’s being clearly communicated.

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Or just email us at info@longitudebranding.com