A Room with A Bed Isn’t Enough- 8 Ways to Future Proof Your Independent Boutique Hotel

As an independent hotelier, you are always looking for ways to provide the best in service to your guests. You want to give them the best experience so that they come back to you when they require your services again, and the way to build loyalty and a great hotel brand.

Largely, customers are seeking a personalized experience, and they definitely want to remain connected from the booking process all the way to check out. Trends like mobile check-in and checkout are growing in popularity, and Wi-Fi remains a most-wanted amenity for guests of all ages.

Here are eight ways you can make your brand the greatest and get your customers coming back for more great stays.

1. Get Super Connected

In the old days, you would pick up that phone that sat on the little desk in between the beds, and you would call the front desk for help with whatever you needed. Or, you’d call the designated number for concierge, and get the help that way.

However, if your hotel has an app, consider taking a cue from Marriott and Hilton. They have the ability for consumers to complete the check-in process right from their smartphones, get into their room using a mobile key, and send out text messages with queries and requests to hotel staff members.

Connectivity is certainly growing as a standard by which hotels are measured. And of course, be sure that your rooms are equipped to handle the changing needs of today’s device-carrying travelers: some hotels even feature charging ports that are a welcome sight to those who may have left theirs on the plane.

2. Emphasize the Wi-Fi

Business travelers are getting work done. Digital nomads are meeting guidelines. Families with kids need the tablet for entertainment. The faster, the better!

The faster you can make your Wi-Fi, the better. Some customers are willing to pay an upcharge for higher speed, but this may be off-putting to some.

In the same vein, provide plenty of power outlets so that devices can be plugged in and charged with ease. Every member of the family has at least a smartphone-so be sure you are prepared.

3. Put A Focus on Local Fun

One way to really improve hotel guest experience is to help travelers experience the city like a true local. With the advent of Airbnb, this is now more important than ever. One huge example is the Unforgettable Experience packages that the Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria offers.

These include destination-specific activities right in the room rate. One such experience situated in Dubai includes dinner and a camel ride for two people. While you certainly do not have to provide camel rides, consider ways you can appeal to your guests by integrating local activities.

You might offer a rate that includes passes to a local attraction, or a dinner voucher for a favorite local restaurant, for instance. Experiences are now more important than ever to consumers, especially millennials, who currently hold them in higher value than “stuff.”

4. Improve Brand Experience by Making Training an Everyday Occurrence

There is no doubt that your staff already puts in 110% when completing their daily duties, and everyone from the GM to the housekeepers to the landscapers does their best. But there are some great ways that you can combine traditional training methods with technology to ensure that every agent and employee is up to speed.

For instance, suppose you have implemented a new Property Management System. Be sure that you are taking advantage of all methods available to teach and train employees. Have them take part in classroom training exercises, complete e-learning, or use an application that monitors your employees’ actions while they work so you can guide them as they learn the system.

Make a concerted effort to have every employee trained on new procedures, technology, and rules. Customers having to wait in line while an employee fumbles around is unacceptable and leaves everyone frustrated.

A well trained and informed staff will resonate soundly with guests. Your brand becomes synonymous with excellence.

5. Provide Personalized Customer Service

A hallmark of your brand can easily be personalized customer service. In a world where we are becoming more and more connected in the digital sense instead of the personal sense, it has become critical to treat your guests like they are the only ones in the entire hotel.

Not all guests should get the same treatment, and excellence is measured in different ways from guest to guest. Some want a speedy check-in; others like to stop and chat with you. Do your best to learn your customers’ name and greet them as such.

Demonstrate an eagerness to help. Remember the guests’ preferences. And be sure you and your employees are able to offer solid information about the local area such as good places to dine or interesting local activities.

Though your brand may not be as large as national chains, you can still treat guests like VIPs. Be sure your staff is trained to be attentive and treat everybody with the utmost of care, regardless of who they are. Guests leave reviews everywhere now: Google, Yelp and more-so when they feel special and cared for, others will know and book with you.

6. Make Booking Easy

You can do simple things that will hugely improve on your booking process and deliver guests the fast and easy experience they desire. Make the calendar part of your process easy by filling out the check-in and checkout boxes with today’s date, plus one day.

Lots of hotels have blank calendar fields and filling it in helps the user get one step closer to whatever dates they need.

You can include a progress measurement for the booking progress. People like to know how long a task will take before they can move onto the next thing, and a progress bar, steps till completion or other measurement method helps consumers move along and stay encouraged to finish the process.

Be sure your process does not ask consumers to log in or create an account unless they will be rewarded in some way (points, etc.). This just annoys the user with more tasks all for marketing reasons, not a great experience.

Every hotel is different, but at the minimum, just ask for full name, email, and phone number. You might also include special requests and time of arrival fields, too. Be sure that your website also offers security credentials, too-it’s peace of mind for users.

7. Guest Engagement

This ties into making guests feel like they are the only ones present in your hotel at any given moment. Guests that are disengaged are not as likely to return to a property and will more than likely discuss their experience online using any number of popular review sites.

Millennials are less likely to be engaged, says Gallup, but the silver lining is that guests who are engaged are less sensitive to price whether they demand luxury experiences or an economical stay. Therefore, guests that have an emotional attachment to a hotel are more likely to book at that property, regardless of budget.

You can encourage engagement by doing some easy things: Encourage them to provide feedback, and of course, treat them as the unique and varied individuals they are. Even though guests are there for different needs and experiences, they all desire great customer service that is delivered with a strong personal touch. Be sure you go over expectations with your staff to ensure the highest satisfaction among guests.

8. Provide Guests the Amenities They Want

There are amenities that customers really like, and then there are ones they can do without. Providing the right mix of amenities that add value to your guests’ stay is critical in making an impact. Consider changing the following:

  • Room Service-Customers are yearning more for good, strong Wi-Fi or a gym. Combine this with the desire to eat local cuisine and experience what the locals do, room service is desired less and less.
  • Valet-Many travelers, even those who stay at luxury hotels, prefer to park their own car.
  • Slippers and robes-Many guests prefer to just wear their own clothes and would not mind if hotels nixed the bathrobes.
  • Mini-bar-The mini bar is often expensive, and travelers do not want to pay the price. Plus, it is expensive to stock these.

Final Thoughts

Your independent boutique property can speak volumes for itself when you provide customers what they seek, which is a personalized, engaging experience, a connected stay at your hotel, bridges to the local cuisine, activities, and establishments, and of course an easy process from start to finish.

By integrating as much helpful technology as you can, and keeping staff trained to be attentive and friendly to your customers’ needs, you will surely notice more repeat business and your hotel will be established as a modern and beautiful place to stay for business, travel, or anything in between.

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.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing A Great Tagline for Your Restaurant

The restaurant landscape is rapidly changing with the pace of innovative technology. Five years ago, the concept of quick-service restaurants (QSR) was shifting away from just service at the counter. Today consumers can order online and pick up at the window. As a restaurant owner, this means that you have even less time than before to connect your brand and the consumer.

Tag lines can be effective to grab attention and resonate with the buyer. However, building an effective tag line that represents your brand is important and there are some clear do’s and don’ts to consider. This article will explore a few of these considerations.

What is a Tagline?

First, let’s define what a tag line is. A tag line or “tagline” is a short text which clarifies a thought, usually through a dramatic effect. A few examples might help.

  • Subway – “Eat Fresh”
  • Nike – “Just Do It”
  • Bounty – “The Quicker Picker Upper”
  • Apple – “Think Different”
  • KFC – “Finger-Lickin’ Good”
  • Dunkin’ Donuts – “America Runs on Dunkin”

Nike’s tag line is one example of a tag line that suggests dramatization. Just Do What? It? Anything you want. But you can’t do it unless you’ve got Nikes on. While this is interesting, the best tag lines in the QSR and restaurant space are those that are well crafted to help buyers instantly understand your offering.

Eat Fresh is a pretty clear tag line of how Subway and consumers might perceive Subway in the market place.

Restaurant Tagline “Don’ts”

First, according to Building a Story Brand (2019), talking about yourself shouldn’t be part of your tag line. Buyers don’t care about your restaurant the same way you might. What your customers really want to know is what your restaurant provides and why your brand is the better choice for a meal.

Second, Don’t make your tag line boring. This is where a creative brainstorming session with a small diverse group of people can make magic happen. The worst thing you can ever do to a restaurant tag line is to make it boring. You must capture the energy of your menu, your brand positioning, and your culture. Take a look at this mock example:

“The Tri-State Region’s Highest Rated Beef Sandwich for a Quick Lunch”
or
“Prime rib sandwiches made at your speed. Built to fill you up.”

In the first example, it’s all about business. You’ve seen this kind of tag line before probably. It’s just a statement of fact. Boring. Right? The second example has an emotional connection. You need speed and a good meal. By keeping the tag line message relevant to customer needs, they know how to get what they need.

The final “don’t” for this article is don’t use jargon and inside language. Consumer’s don’t know what QSRs are and they don’t care that you might be a QSR over a table service establishment. People can’t figure out tag lines that are complex and full of jargon.

People can’t figure out tag lines that are complex and full of jargon.

One last don’t in the world of tag lines. Don’t be offensive. AT&T used “Reach out and touch someone” just creepy if you think about it. How about the example from Dr. Pepper Ten? “It’s not for women” or the Old Spice example of “Smell Better Than Yourself”. Offensive tag lines just don’t work well. They can push consumers away. Just don’t do it.

Restaurant Tagline “Dos”

First, keep it simple.

Make sure a 5th grader can read and understand it. Don’t just think they will. Ask them. If people have to work hard to figure out what you want to say, they will ditch your brand altogether. Eat Fresh comes to mind again with short, clear words. You would expect and Subway you will eat and that the food will be fresh. Any 5th grader can read and understand this.

Second, short and simple is always best.

Keep your tag line short. Less than 5 words is ideal. According to Dr. A. L. Pradeep in the Buying Brain the subconscious mind is making the buying decision most of the time when it comes to food. You tag line must say a lot with almost no words. None of the tag lines in the examples above have more than 5 words. Third, try to capture your unique value point in your tag line. What is it the customer will gain? How will your restaurant make customers’ lives better? Why is your restaurant better than the ones across the street or next door?

Finally, building a tag line should never trump building a brand to support it.

Your brand is your culture. It is the experience employees, patrons, and the community will experience. The most important aspect of building your tag line should be your ability to connect it to your culture.

Concluding Remarks

Great tag lines serve as brand triggers. When you see, hear a tag line you should be able to associate the tag line with the brand. Can you label 5 or these brands just by the tag line alone? If so, they work.

  • The breakfast of champions
  • The happiest place on earth
  • Can you hear me now? Good
  • Melts in your mouth, not in your hands
  • I’m loving It
  • Imagination at work
  • What’s in your wallet?

You probably got at least 5 of these tag lines right. Each of these tag lines serves a single purpose. They trigger your subconscious mind to connect the words to a brand. Tag lines are important in every industry but really important for restaurants to better define your brand and at most times the menu.

To summarize consider writing out everything you’ve heard about your restaurant from others along with what you think about it. By now you should have three or four good paragraphs. Spend the time here to lay a foundation to help you design your restaurant’s tag line. If you don’t have much keep going. Dig deep.

Now for the fun part. Make ten copies and distribute them to 10 people. Have them read what you wrote and circle only five words that jumped out at them. Then ask them to make a quick note as to what that specific word meant to them. After this approach, you will end up with a clear message that resonates with people you want to serve. If you serve prime rib sandwiches at lunch, you might get something creative like Prime Sandwiches, Prime Time.

What’s the ROI of a Brand Strategy?

Business Minded vs. Brand Minded

Trying to convince certain business owners or executives to invest in a brand strategy can be a very tricky thing. In their mind, there’s never a right time and it’s rarely an important consideration. This is because to them, ROI isn’t clearly measurable. On top of that, most of their time is spent trying to solve complex business problems or putting out fires in their organization.

What these business owners may not understand, or may be too busy to hear, is that a well-built brand strategy could solve many of the problems they’re facing – often times before they even occur.

A well-built brand strategy could solve many of the problems they’re facing – often times before they even occur.

A brand strategy is a vital piece to any organization who wants to be competitive in the marketplace. Without it, you’ll likely face many problems and frustrations that you shouldn’t be facing. So why are some business owners and CEOs so apprehensive to make the investment?

Put yourself in the shoes of the average business owner or CEO. You have team members emailing or calling you every single day, vying for your attention, explaining to you what’s wrong, and bringing long lists of issues that they believe need to be improved. You have trouble finding support and talent you need for important positions and have trouble keeping the good talent you may already have. You’re burning through money – more cash is going out than coming in. Then you get a phone call from someone who asks, “Have you ever thought about a brand strategy to build a better emotional connection with your customers?”

You’ll say “no thanks” and hang up. It’s not only bad timing, you’re not even speaking the same language.

The problem is in the fact that when many business owners hear the words “brand” or “branding” they think coloring books, pretty colors, and painting classes with Bob Ross. CEOs and business owners are typically product driven, solution minded, or deeply focused on their operations. They want a mathematical equation to know that if they invest one dollar, they’ll receive two dollars in return. They don’t care to spend money on “unnecessary” things like a brand strategy to help their business grow.

Dollars and [Emotional] Sense

Many business owners or executives value cold hard numbers and metrics, not emotions and feelings. For them, if they don’t see a clear monetary value assigned to something, they’re not going to consider making an investment of time or money into it.

The average executive is more willing to consider a “business solution” versus a “brand solution.” The biggest failure in this thinking is the fact that these two solutions are, and always will be, tied together. You can’t separate the two. Your brand, your culture, your reputation, your core values, your market position – these are all foundational building blocks upon which a profitable business must be built. Without these clearly defined, your chances of seeing meaningful business growth are seriously stifled.

The biggest failure in this thinking is the fact that these two solutions [business and brand solutions] are, and always will be, tied together.

The ROI of Story

When an organization has a clearly defined strategy, and purposeful vision, it will make a direct impact on your bottom line. Your marketing efforts, sales, and advertising will all be improved. You can attempt to assign metrics to every investment you make and have spreadsheets for days, but without the right message, metrics don’t mean anything. Telling your team members or stakeholders that your mission is to generate X increased revenue within X amount of time isn’t casting a vision. It’s simply a goal. A vision must be something that everyone on your team understands and can buy into long-term.

A vision must be something that everyone on your team understands and can buy into long-term.

It should come as no surprise that finding and keeping talent is one of the most common challenges businesses face. The beautiful thing about a great brand strategy is that you’ll have a stronger brand story. When your employees are more engaged and understand this story, they’re going to be more engaged and perform better. When your team is engaged they will perform 147 percent better.

Your narrative will not only impact your employee engagement but will also have a big impact on the decision your customers make regarding doing business with you. When it comes to people deciding to buy from you, 72 percent of people make decisions based on a vision.

It’s clear that an investment into brand strategy can have huge returns, across multiple aspects of your business. Every real business wants to experience growth in some way. However, as you are growing are you truly increasing the value of the business you’re building? When you have a strong brand narrative and vision, this answer becomes easier to answer.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

In a study by McKinsey & Company, it was found that organizations with a clear story perform 20% better than those with a weak story and vision.

Additionally, powerful strategies will influence your plan of action for how consistent your voice, message, tone, and look is throughout various touchpoints with your audience. When companies are more intentional and consistent with their brand, they experience on average a 20% increased revenue versus those companies who are inconsistent.

If you’re still not convinced that you need a brand strategy, here are some other numbers that you should consider:

  • 91% of consumers said that they are more likely to buy from an authentic brand than from a dishonest brand. (AdWeek)
  • 82% of investors believe that brand strength and name recognition are becoming more important in guiding them in their investment decisions. (Reuters)
  • 64% of consumers cite shared values as the primary reason they have a relationship with a brand. (Harvard Business Review)
  • 48% of consumers expect a brand to really know them and be able to help them discover new products or services that match their needs. (Cube)
  • 77% of B2B marketing leaders say branding is critical to growth. (Circle Research)

So, next time you hear the words “brand strategy,” don’t think “pretty colors and painting class with Bob Ross” – think clearer decisions, better engagement, loyal customers, and more money in the bank.

The Importance of Brand Strategy for Restaurants

Restaurant Branding is Important

Decades ago branding was defined as a name, slogan, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of these elements that distinguish one restaurant brand from another. From the public’s perspective, the brand of a restaurant differentiated it from the competition. Today a brand is a bit more complex, and even more important in today’s world of marketing. And branding is not just about getting your target market to select you over the competition.

We can all agree that restaurant branding matters. Everything communicates, whether by design or default. All the little experiences define the whole from every touch-point. Conceptualizing and realizing a top-tier dining experience requires more than putting together a tasty menu. You have to entice customers with a purpose and promise and to deliver on that promise. Wow, guests with your restaurant’s particular panache.

Every executive and agency seems to throw around the phrase “restaurant brand” a lot and champion its importance. But when you ask them to define their restaurant brand – or even better, ask the entire executive team to define it independently and then compare their responses – it’s alarming just how far the stakeholders may be in their understanding of effective restaurant branding strategy and its application.

Homestyle Kitchen Branding Examples

Homestyle Kitchen Branding

What is Restaurant Branding?

So what exactly is restaurant branding? Is it just the standard pretty logo and catchy jingle a traditional agency conjures up in their typical approach? Of course not. Great, powerful, and effective restaurant branding is all about marrying your marketing with your operations. The best restaurants don’t simply copy trends or rely on tricky gimmicks. The best restaurant brands have a clear mission, purpose, and reason for being. These are based on research and innovation, operating on the belief that hospitality can help make the world a better place.

The best brands don’t mindlessly copy trends and espouse gimmicks.

Your brand isn’t your logo, it’s your reputation. When you think of your brand in this way, it helps you to make a more human and authentic connection to your audience and customers. When you look at your brand as your reputation, you’ll understand why it’s important to bring alignment to your look, your message, and your actions. When these three things are in alignment, and functioning optimally, you will have a healthy reputation (brand).

restaurant branding examples

Brand identity for fast-casual Indian restaurant.

Success in Restaurant Branding

To succeed in restaurant branding, you must understand the needs and wants of your customers. You can achieve this by integrating your brand strategies throughout your organization at every point of public contact. Think of branding as though your restaurant were a living, breathing person. How could this person communicate, and engage with another person in a way that builds trust, loyalty, and with clear and direct communication?

But remember, the effectiveness of a brand doesn’t just happen before the purchase—the brand experience has to last to create brand loyalty. A quality brand gives people something to believe in, something to stand behind. Your brand should be an instant “ah-ha” moment—it should require very little thought.

Remember, you can’t escape your brand. Either you make the customer experience, or it gets made without you.

Being seen and heard in the midst of a roaring ocean of competition is a large task in today’s very crowded marketplace. We find this true even more each time we scan through a magazine, watch television, or search the web. Due to this, restaurants are being forced to seek new and more effective ways of increasing their brand power, awareness, and just as important, their brand loyalty.

A strategic brand will help you in the following ways:

  • Clearly deliver a message that resonates with people.
  • Confirm your credibility in the marketplace.
  • Be confident in what makes you unique versus your competition
  • Emotionally connect your target audience with your restaurant, staff, and food.
  • Entice new customers to visit your restaurant.

4 Steps Independent Hoteliers Can Take to Attract More Guests Without Spending More on Marketing

You may have big hopes and dreams for your independent hotel, but don’t forget – you need guests!

Dreams Without a Plan

Have you seen the movie “Field of Dreams?” It’s one of the most iconic movies related to America’s favorite pastime, baseball. The main character played by Kevin Coster builds a baseball field in the middle of a cornfield in Iowa. It’s this film where the famous phrase, “if you build it, they will come” was coined. It makes for a great story, but it’s a terrible strategy for opening a new hotel.

It’s time for a wake-up call, folks. You’re starting a business, not building a baseball field in a movie.

You may have investors, or maybe your a small independently owned and funded hotel. Either way, you will want to see a return on your investment – and preferably sooner rather than later. This hotel needs to start generating revenue quickly in order to make the business profitable.

Guests aren’t going to simply show up because you’re building a shiny new hotel.

Hotel owners, hoteliers, investors, and developers, please remember this – guests aren’t going to simply show up because you’re building a shiny new hotel. They’re not going to book their stay with you because you have a unique lodging concept. These things alone won’t get them through your doors. You need the right strategy and plan in place to attract them.

Tactics Without a Purpose

You may be tempted to start thinking about business and marketing tactics that might give you measurable and trackable results related to improving your RevPAR, Average Occupancy Rate, and ALOS. Or, you could be thinking about hiring the best architect and interior designers to ensure that your hotel creates the best guest experience.

No doubt those things are all important, but before you begin spending too much time and money creating reports and spreadsheets, hiring consultants, paying for hotel booking platforms, hiring digital agencies, and installing expensive signage and infill – here are four things that should be at the top of your priority list when planning your hotel.

Before you do anything else do the following:

  1. Determine Your Perfect Position
  2. Discover Your Ideal Guest
  3. Define Your Powerful Message
  4. Develop Your Game Plan

1. Determine Your Perfect Position

Positioning is vital to independently owned luxury and boutique hotels due to the competition being so fierce. There are likely many, many options to choose from when a guest is planning their trip. What sets yours apart? What makes yours the clear choice?

Without a clear positioning in the market, you won’t have these answers. If you can’t find a clear and compelling reason why someone should stay with you, then it’s very likely that travelers will validate your findings.

If you can’t find a clear and compelling reason why someone should stay with you, then it’s very likely that travelers will validate your findings.

A hotel’s position can be seen in two ways, the perspective of the hotel’s management and that of the guests. The hotel’s management needs to have a firm concept of the position set-forth. Its marketing and advertising efforts must clearly articulate not only what the hotel offers but also how it’s offerings are unique from the competition.

For example, a hotel may offer a luxurious package of services, perks, and amenities in an effort to attract business travelers. However, if the room rate is higher than travelers are willing to pay, that brand is not positioned for properly for the majority of business travelers. Instead, it may attract guests who are price insensitive, or it may attract luxury-minded guests traveling for leisure.

In another example, if a hotel has positioned itself as the best conference hotel in the market, guests will expect meetings to be hosted and executed flawlessly. Should that not occur, the hotel’s position— from the customer’s perspective— will, in reality, be “an average conference hotel” or worse.

To sum it up, if you need to have a truly unique position in your market. But not only that, you need to be able to back it up with the right actions as well.

2. Discover Your Ideal Guest

Around here, we love the saying, “people do business with people.”

No one wants to do business with a boring, lifeless, and dull business. People talk to people. People have fun with people. People enjoy other people. People trust people. And hotels, especially, are people-centered businesses. So even more-so, you need to know who you are talking to.

Who is your ideal guest? What do they look like? What car do they drive? Are they blue-collar? White-collar? Traveling for business or leisure? What motivates them? What are they looking for when booking their stay? What fears do they have associated with their travel arrangements? What are their underlying reasons for making purchasing decisions?

Seek to intimately understand your guests on a human level, not a transactional level. They aren’t just a number on a page. These are real people you’re talking to. Find out what resonates with them, and how you can best serve them.

3. Define Your Powerful Message

After you’ve discovered more about who your ideal guest is, you can craft a brand message focused on them. Keep in mind, your message should be focused on your guests, not on you. This simply means that you should talk less about how great your hotel is, and more about how your hotel can make your guest feel great. And to be honest, no one wants to hear about how great you think you are.

No one wants to hear about how great you think you are.

Your messaging must be simple and concise. Focus on the problems your guests are facing and present your hotel’s services, prices, amenities, and accommodations as a solution to their problem. People buy things that are easily understood. The reality is, your hotel may be better than a competitor, but if you’re unable to communicate that in a way that resonates with your guest’s needs, you’ll lose almost every time.

4. Develop Your Game Plan

You can have the most unique position and compelling messaging, but if you don’t deliver, your hotel will never be healthy. A healthy brand centers around the idea of “promises made, promises kept.” As a final ingredient to building a healthy brand for your hotel, you need to be consistent in your brand’s execution. Your positioning and messaging are extremely important, but what you do will always hold the most weight as you build your reputation.

This should be common sense, but I’ll say it again – don’t try to be something you’re not. If you’re making promises and claims, be sure you can deliver on them. Go to great lengths to ensure that your guests know exactly what they’re getting when they book with you. If you claim to have the most impeccably clean rooms, and you have loads of 1-star reviews saying otherwise, your reputation will be hurt. You can’t earn the trust of people if you’re not keeping promises.

You can’t earn the trust of people if you’re not keeping promises.

Why Many Independent Hotels Will Fail

Experienced independent hoteliers understand that owning and operating a hotel is a business. It’s not a weekend hobby or side project. Hotels are open year-round, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They require expert management, hiring and training, expensive marketing and advertising costs, accounting, and customer service. And with new guests coming through your doors every day, there will always be new challenges you face to ensure you’re providing the best experience you can.

With the sheer complexity and nature of how hotels operate, it’s inevitable that many independent hotels will fail. One of the biggest reasons most hotels will fail is due to a lack of proper planning, positioning, messaging, and identity. For many independent hotels, failure can be avoided if you act fast and with clarity and confidence that comes with a brand strategy. It’s better than seeing your dream slowly die, and simply hoping things will get better.

You need a game plan to get you to where you want, and that is exactly what we can help give you with BrandGPS. Find out more about how we’ve helped many people transform the way they do business.

 


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How Leaders Can Find Work-Life Balance with a Powerful Brand

It’s an all-too-common problem for many solo entrepreneurs, business owners, and bootstrapped startups. It’s harming families and tearing apart marriages. It’s the cause of many sleepless nights and restless thoughts. People write books to help solve this problem and stores can’t keep them on the shelves. This problem isn’t age-specific, gender-specific, or restricted to a certain location or industry.

The problem? Work–life balance.

Finding a balance between your work and your life seems like chasing a carrot on a stick. It feels like an impossible goal, one that will never be reached. We live in a world where the first thing people ask when they meet is, “what do you do?” Our society has put so much emphasis on how “successful” you are or what your job title is. So, it’s no surprise that entrepreneurs are focusing more and more time on their business and less time being with their loved ones or enjoying other activities.

Sadly, a majority of the American workforce are dissatisfied with their work due to a lack of work-life balance.

What exactly is a Work-Life Balance?

Work-life balance is a concept related to how you allocate your time, energy, and mental focus into various parts of your life: work, family, health, personal growth, friendships, etc. Finding a healthy “balance” of all of these aspects to your life is thought to lead to a wholeness of life – meaning you have a better sense of belonging, purpose, and happiness.

For business owners specifically, this balance is extremely hard to find.

You likely wear many hats. As a business owner, you’re not only working one job, but you’re probably working the equivalent of two, three, or even more jobs. So finding this balance can seem nearly impossible.

Are you out of balance?

As business owners, how many times do we catch ourselves sitting at the dinner table with our family thinking of client deadlines, upcoming bills, troubles with employees, or where your next lead will come from?

If you can’t allow yourself to be present with your family or friends, you’re probably out of balance. If you feel too tired or mentally taxed to read a book simply for your enjoyment, you’re probably out of balance. If you’re constantly checking your email because you’re worried that you may have missed something or that an emergency may have occurred while you were away, you’re probably out of balance.

How Can I Find Balance?

There are some ways that we can make the work-life balance feel more manageable. However, don’t expect to be perfect in your efforts. Here are some ideas you can start trying:

  1. Prioritize Social Time with No Agenda. Spend time with your family and friends for no reason other than just enjoying time with them. Do your best not to talk about your business. Talk about life, hobbies, dreams, interests, sports, politics – anything but your work.
  2. Be Flexible with Your Schedule. Create your own definition of balance. Maybe balance for you is enjoying time in the morning alone while you read a book. Maybe it’s leaving your office early every Thursday afternoon to spend time with your kids. You own your business, you make the rules. Create your own schedule.
  3. Unplug and Relax. Be present with yourself and others. Turn off your phone. Leave your laptop at work. When you’re with others, or alone with yourself – be present. There’s a never-ending stream of emails, calendar invites, meetings, missed calls. Don’t worry, they’ll be waiting for you and you’ll have time to take care of everything later. As much as possible, keep those moments away from your business sacred.
  4. Work smart. In this day in age, there’s a buzzword floating around the world of business and entrepreneurship – hustle. Typically this word means to work hard all hours of the day and night with a relentless and never-ceasing drive to grind away in an effort to grow your business. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time for “hustle.” However, what’s better than working hard and working a lot? Working smart and being extremely effective.

This idea of working smart vs. working hard isn’t a new one and is extremely important as you are seeking a work-life balance that is sustainable. However, most business owners don’t feel like they have the tools or know-how to work smart. This is why a strategic foundation for your business is so important. A brand strategy will bring alignment throughout your business, and allow you to run your business in a smarter way.

5 Ways That a Brand Strategy Leads to Balance

1. Clearer Focus Will Require Less Mental Energy

A strategic foundation will narrow your focus so that you aren’t wasting time on things that don’t matter. You’ll have a better idea of why you do what you do, how you will accomplish it, and where you should be spending your time and energy. By doing this, you’ll free up your thoughts allowing you to be more present with your family and friends outside of your workplace. You’ll be more deliberate in your efforts, and begin to see how you can spend your time more wisely on a daily basis.

2. Spend Less Time & Energy Worrying About Decisions

When you have a clearly defined vision and values for your business, decision-making is simplified. Many decisions, big and small, become easier because you have defined guidelines in place. These guard-rails provided by a brand strategy will continually bring you back to your roots and ensure that you’re always aligned with your core values and always consistent. When decisions are easier, you aren’t as drained with the day-to-day of your business – giving you more mental energy to spend on things you enjoy outside of work.

When decisions are easier, you aren’t as drained with the day-to-day of your business

3. Empowered and Engaged Team

One of the best ways that a brand strategy will help you find a work-life balance is how it can help empower and engage your employees. Studies show that employees who are more engaged perform better, are more committed, and more loyal.

Although your brand is at the forefront of all your marketing efforts, it is also displayed throughout your team – from the receptionist answering phones to the service technician out in the field. Smart branding means that your team members will have a complete understanding and ability to confidently deliver on your brand promise. When your team members are engaged and empowered, this means they will often take on more responsibilities and be brand ambassadors for you.

This allows you to delegate with more confidence, freeing up more of your time to do other things you love.

4. Better Results from Marketing Agencies You Hire

The beauty of a properly built brand strategy is that it enhances everything that you’re currently doing. It’s likely that you’re doing some marketing; whether you’re doing it on your own or you’ve hired a marketing agency to do it for you. For most business owners, the reality is that they feel like their marketing efforts aren’t as effective as they could be. In fact, we recently did a survey and found that 100% of business owners feel that their marketing efforts aren’t effective.

A brand strategy will give you the confidence to know that you’re sending the right message, with the right look, and talking to the right people. You don’t get a second chance at a first impression. When your marketing efforts are performing well and you’re seeing great results – it puts less stress on you outside of your work.

5. Customers Working for You, Brand Evangelists

What’s better than getting a new customer? Getting a new customer from a past customer referral.

When you are doing great work and have a great brand, people take notice. When you are relating to people on a human level, people will listen. Knowing your customers intimately is a vital step in the brand strategy process. When you truly know your customers, their desires, their fears, and their goals – then you’ll be better equipped to turn them into brand evangelists.

When you are relating to people on a human level, people will listen

Having a free workforce of past customers who gladly refer their friends, family, and colleagues to is a great feeling. This is one other way to make your business run stress-free and create a brand that you’re proud of.

It may seem impossible to find a work-life balance, but it’s worth the effort. However, I can assure you that not having a strategic brand will greatly hinder your efforts and set you back tremendously.

The only thing stopping you from building a more strategic brand is you. At Longitude°, we have developed a streamlined process that will help accelerate your growth and help you reach your vision for your business. Smart business leaders everywhere are loving BrandGPS, and you will too. Want to talk with a Brand Guide? Request a meeting today.

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.

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Or just email us at info@longitudebranding.com