In my last blog, I shared with you some thoughts that had appeared in my Veterinary Practice News website column. Whether you’re a veterinarian or have another line of business, I thought the need to define your brand was worth repeating
As promised, I’m bringing you, in this blog, some suggestions on how to define your brand. Here are six tips:
First, look to your vision and mission statements. What do your objectives tell you about the uniqueness of your business? Debbie Boone, BS, CCS, CVPM, of 2 Manage Vets Consulting, told me about the rebranding process of Cobb Animal Clinic in Greensboro, NC where they had two distinct services with two separate objectives. The medical veterinary hospital they rebranded as “your pets next best friend,” and their boarding kennels they branded as “Camp Cobb, vacation without guilt.”
Second, look to your stakeholders. It will be useful to involve a subset of your loyal customers and contractors. Ask them what they think is unique about your business. What do they say when referring to you or describing your establishment? “Are you “old dependable” or “always honest,” or “Johnny on the spot?” Not only can they add perspective to your thinking, but also, by consulting them, you increase the likelihood of their buy-in to your new identity.
Third, look at your competition for contrasts. Do they have a more qualified staff or provide more services? Are they known to be cheaper, faster, or more available? How would YOU like to be known?
Fourth, get insights from other industries. I remember a towing service that said, “Call and we’ll be there.” Maybe your business has a similar service that can be branded with a slogan. Here’s one for the veterinary business: “Pet care, we’ll be there, no matter where.”
Fifth, know yourself and what makes you unique. Kate Turner, owner of Happy Tails Bed and Biscuits, loves dogs and knows what the pets and their owners want. As a consequence, she began boarding and walking dogs, with no employees. Once she realized how unusual her services were, communicating became easy. Her brand is on Facebook and gets spread by word of mouth.
Frequently, when searching to define one’s “brand,” businesses are tempted to beg, borrow, or steal someone else’s’ brand that has already proved successful. Don’t do it. As Malcolm Gladwell says, in David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, it’s a losing proposition to play by the rules of the established brand. You’re better off creating your own.
Sixth, maybe the most difficult strategy – imagine a need and create it. That was the genius of Steve Jobs. He imagined needs to communicate in ways we had never noticed, and he created devices to help us to meet those needs.
In the end, once you have determined your brand, find ways to constantly communicate your brand – your name and your tag line or slogan, images and colors. They need to be repeated everywhere. Redesign your website, your invoices, the signs and videos in your lobby, your social media pages, and make sure all of your staff members can articulate the brand.
Defining and communicating brand not only speaks to your customers but it also can enable your employees to get on board. You want your brand to be more than words and images. Make sure your employees demonstrate the values represented in your brand. You want everyone to live your brand.
That’s it for now.
P.S. As always, I’d love to hear your comments.
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