There seems to be two schools of thought when it comes to branding. The first turns the whole process into an abstract and rather complex procedure, mired in mystery, complex formulas, and expensive agencies. No doubt, there is a time and place for this type of branding. If you are big company with lots of political issues at stake, perhaps this is the better route for you to go.
The second way is the one that many small businesses have to depend on. With little or no budgets to be had, they have to be resourceful and take matters into their own hands. More importantly, the second way requires a team effort, one where the owner or manager works hand in had with her team to identify 1) what they need to become in order to succeed, 2) what needs to happen throughout the organization in order to reach their goals, and 3) what each person on the team will be responsible for as they work toward that goal.
The next step in the process is where many companies fail in their branding efforts. After going through these first three steps you end up with a number of great ideas. The worse thing you can do is to try and implement most or all of them. Instead, the leader needs to take the list and prioritize. She needs to figure out which ideas will reap the greatest benefit, list them in order of importance, and start with item number one on the list. The team then focuses on step one and they continue to work on it until it becomes engrained in the company culture.
Let’s assume that you were working with your team and you were trying to figure out what needed to happen in order to achieve a reputation as the friendliest store in town. You sit down with your team and come up with a bunch of ideas together – smile and greet everyone, offer free gift wrapping, thank them for shopping with you, etc. From here you prioritize and decide that being kind to your customers is the simplest idea and it would produce the largest potential results in the shortest amount of time. Perfect. Now you and your team has to focus on that objective.
A few tips: As you make progress, it is okay to move onto the next goal on your list; however, put your list of ideas into a training rotation that you cycle back through every six months. Keep the list simple – focus on 6-8 actionable and measurable goals. Have fun with them. Also remember to make your list a main focus of your new hire training.
Let’s sum this up:
1. Select a focus: What do you want to be known for?
2. Engage your team and get them involved in answering this question along with actionable goals.
3. Prioritize your action list.
4. Focus on the actions that will make the biggest difference first.
5. Measure your success and make adjustments along the way.
6. Cycle back through your list every six months and make the list an integral part of your new hire training.