(photo Teresa Earnest Photography)
Many times we get hung up on the word BRAND. What is it? Is it your logo, color scheme, promotions, etc.? Actually, no. All the sexy parts of branding, all those things named above, can only happen after you have an intimate discussion with yourself and or business team about what experience you want to deliver to your customers or clients. We are not talking about the product or service but the experience. Without identifying the experience, you can make many costly marketing decisions and miss valuable opportunities to communicate the essence or spirit of your brand.
Through a series of articles, I will guide you through a process that will help you discover the essence of your brand. The best way I know how to explain this process is through a cooking analogy. So here we go…
Image yourself as a Chef in a busy kitchen. In walks in a well-respected food critic. You have one meal to communicate what your restaurant is about. And of course, that meal starts with a reduction sauce, the key ingredient in the evening’s meal; the starting point to communicating the essence of your restaurant.
- First, the Chef must take stock of what he has in his pantry. This would be similar to a marketing audit, gathering the marketing materials to examine your marketing messaging, looking at how staff represent your brand, how you present your product and or service to the customer or client, etc.
- Next, you put all available ingredients into a pot, simmer and reduce them down to their most concentrated form. This would equal the essence of your brand. Your brand essence is not the product, widget or service you sell. It truly is understanding the experience you want to deliver and the value that it holds for the consumer that makes a strong brand. The purpose here is to distill everything down to a few words or phrase that communicate that customer experience.
- Once you have the essence of your brand, you then add in the basic ingredients of salt and pepper, which would represent your competencies, such as talent, business acumen, communicating with inspiration and passion, an excellent staffing model, marketing knowledge including pricing, place, promotion, and public relations.
- Then you must add the differentiating herbs and spices that make your essence, your customer and business experience pop so customers eat it up and want MORE! The herbs and spices are your competitive differentiators and are really where you shine and bring value to your customer or client. These herbs and spices include creativity, resolving problems, building customer relationships so recurring business happens, experimenting periodically adding more or less of the ingredients, reviewing successes and failures often to grow the business, delighting customers, engaging in unique out reaches, being known as ethical, owning mistakes, providing diverse offerings and having a well trained and appreciated staff.
This special sauce now becomes the basis for all your cooking, or in other words the launching pad for your business strategies, central creative ideas and tactics, logo, promotions, etc. If done with patience and with full participation of stakeholders, it never fails to produce an “a-ha” moment.
This is a lot to think about and can feel overwhelming. In the following article series I will introduce the 3 key factors to mull over as you go through the process of discovering your “a-ha” moment; The Why, The How and the Value proposition:
- Why- why should someone buy you experience?
- How – how do you demonstrate these competencies and expertise to your consumer
- Value proposition – What is the value, not in dollars, to your consumer?
Of course the cooking analogy is a simplistic representation of the process, but none the less, if you take the time, it will save your business money down the road. You will now have a road map as your guide to keep you from making costly mistakes in creating marketing materials, promotions, etc that are off message and ineffective.
What is your brand essence? I look forward to going through this journey with you and hearing about your reduction sauce.