As any successful business owner knows, the most important part of sustained business success is knowing your customers. No business can last long without its owner understanding the customers and what they want. After all, if a customer doesn’t feel appreciated, he or she isn’t going to stick around for long. Taking the current business world’s size into account, 100 competitors or more is a healthy number for a business.
With so many options available to consumers these days, it’s no longer enough for a business simply to offer the best product or service in its industry. It also has to connect with customers in a way that keeps them coming back consistently. No matter what you’re selling, you need to reach customers on their level. You need to know who they are, what matters to them and how your brand fits into that puzzle.
The best way to do that is by asking the right questions and constantly staying abreast of who your customers are and what they’re about. Here are a few things every business should know about their customer base.
This might seem to be one of the most basic things to know about your customers, but it’s still worth saying because it’s an important part of developing your strategy to keep and obtain customers. If you don’t have a general idea of the age of your potential customer, you’re going to have a hard time knowing where you need to shift your advertising focus and strategy.
For example, a product typically used by people in their mid-50s would probably do very well if advertised in AARP Magazine, which is heavily circulated and enjoyed by the demographic you seek. But a product that’s mainly used by people in their late 20s wouldn’t find much of a market in AARP Magazine, making an advertising campaign there a complete waste of money.
The best way to find out the age of your customer is to conduct trustworthy research on your product and determine the types of people most likely to buy and engage with it. From there, you can craft your message accordingly to meet their needs.
Consumers need to have a reason for what they purchase. Sometimes, the need is obvious, such as paying an HVAC repairman when the existing HVAC goes down, or buying new baking sheets to make cookies. Other times, the need isn’t quite as straightforward, but the product somehow appeals to something in the minds of customers and triggered their desires to own it. Decorative or specialty products, such as a welcome sign, fall into this category.
In some cases, their desire isn’t just to make their lives better with your product, but also to contribute to your business because they share your values. A great example is when a customer buys Girl Scout Cookies, which cost more than most cookies in the grocery store. The customer knows that the money from their purchase goes toward benefiting girls around the world; the money is going to a cause they care about.
In all these cases, the customer has decided that for whatever reason, they need to purchase the product in question, because it will make their lives better in some way. What you have to do is figure out how your product improves the lives of your customers and emphasize its benefits in a way that speaks to their needs. Once you figure out why someone chooses to purchase your product, you can decide whether to emphasize the rational or emotional benefits (logos vs. pathos) of buying from you, depending on what your research shows you.
In one early episode of Family Guy, when discussing his plan to help the struggling Quahog Theater attract customers, Peter Griffin pulls out the most simple strategy in history. “I’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and that’s like 10 people right there.”
Peter’s math might have been off, but for once, his reasoning skills were right on the money. People like to talk about things that make their lives better. Chances are, if your product has gone a long way toward improving someone’s life, that person is going to tell someone else, who might then spread the word to their own social circle and create even more chances for your business to gain revenue.
Or perhaps your business gets its customers through a robust social media campaign that turns likes and clicks into genuine leads, or maybe customers find you because you’ve got a strong internet presence and great SEO skills. There are many different ways for you to reach potential customers, and you’ve got to find out which ways reached the majority of your customers. Whatever the answer is, that’s where more of your customers are, and that’s where you can increase your market and your brand loyalty.
As brands and companies start to establish themselves and their personality traits, they’re discovering that consumers like to feel good about the products they’re purchasing. For some customers, that means purchasing products that seem cool or popular and make them feel like they stand out from the crowd. These consumers value the benefits of your product and how it helps them live their lives, so their focus will likely be limited to the product itself.
Other customers might take a view of the social scene in the world and want to support companies that share their values. These customers might not view your product as being far superior to similar products, but they buy your product anyway because they like what you stand for and want to support you. These consumers are likely to be very brand-loyal because they view your company as more than just the purchased product. Instead, they support what you represent, and they’re going to do everything they can to help you succeed because they share your values. That’s a great situation for any business owner to have.
Whatever the reason your customers choose to purchase from you, you need to emphasize when crafting your marketing message. Remember, when one customer finds your company to be one that they can trust, it bodes well for developing future interactions with customers of the same mindset.
Consumers don’t like to be lied to in any situation. Even when your brand is upfront and honest about who and what it is, consumers will depart if they feel that they’ve not received what they were promised.
A great example is the case of Nissan Computers. If you visit Nissan.com, you’re not going to find the car company’s stylish website or its fleet of vehicles. Instead, you find a bare-bones website with a few buttons related to computer services. That’s because nissan.com isn’t owned by the car company, but by Uzi Nissan, the owner of Nissan Computers. However, this can be a major backfire for Nissan Computers, because many of its visitors come in looking for the more famous car company. When they don’t get it, they’re often gone and they don’t come back.
That’s a bit of an extreme example, but it emphasizes the larger point: Customers come in with expectations, and if those expectations aren’t met, they’re going to go elsewhere. Whether your brand is built on luxury and fails to make consumers feel like they’re getting the best in the business or simply doesn’t live up to its tagline, your brand is often acknowledged as an unwritten contract with the customer to meet a certain expectation. When you fall short, your entire relationship with your customer can fall into a precarious position, and it can make them look elsewhere.
No business is without competitors for long, and that’s especially true in this day and age, when consumers can easily purchase products from across the country or even from around the globe. In order to stay a step ahead of your competition, you have to know what your customers think about the other options on the market.
The best way to stand out is to offer products whose quality outshines that of your competition. Is there something that your product has that makes consumers gravitate toward it, or does their product have a feature that yours needs to add? It’s a good idea to keep your ear to the ground and constantly monitor what your competitors are doing to give yourself as much of an advantage over them as possible.
You’ll also want to consider the values of your competitors and how you differ from them. Perhaps you’re able to get customers to pay slightly higher prices for your products because you use a vendor located an hour away, while your competition uses a supplier who’s cheaper but in another state. Or maybe you supported a local charity that touches a lot of lives in your community. These things matter to consumers, and often mean more than you think. If you have a way to separate yourself from the competition with your community work, that’s not something to overlook.
E-commerce is growing every year. As millennials and Generation Z gain a greater share of the market, the market will have to adjust to their expectations. Millennials now do 60 percent of their shopping online, and that number is likely to keep increasing as they continue to become the driving force in the market.
You need to make sure that you’re offering your customers as many options as possible to purchase your product. Is your website set up to maximize sales, or is it just a place to get information? If you’re seeking millennial buyers, you would be wise to make sure that your site is set up to turn leads into sales. Even if millennials aren’t your target market, older generations are becoming more comfortable with buying online and getting a product shipped to them, and businesses who only offer one way to buy risk getting left behind.
Millennials might prefer buying online with their laptops, but Generation Z has grown up on their mobile phones and has gotten used to doing just about everything with their phones. Send money to a friend, pay for dinner, check their bank statement: it’s all right there on their phone, and it’s always been that way for as long as they’ve had any purchasing power.
When designing your site to maximize web traffic and convert it into sales, you need to remember your mobile site as well. The mobile version of a website is often drastically different from the computer version, and a mobile site that’s commerce-friendly goes a long way toward sales.
You’ll also want to consider alternative forms of payment. Gen Z and millennials have grown up with PayPal, Venmo and other electronic payment options, and offering these services can make it even easier for these customers to make a purchase when they spot a product they want on your site.
Some products are designed to be purchased one at a time and last for a while, while others are meant to be bought in packs or purchased on a fairly regular basis. As a business, you need to understand how much a customer is likely to buy so that you can set your bottom line and price point accordingly. If your goal is to make $10,000 in profit each month, you need to figure out how to allocate your resources and set your prices to make that possible. If you don’t know how much of your product your customer likes to buy at once, that work becomes nothing more than an uneducated guess, possibly the worst thing you can do in business.
There could be a number of reasons why your customers buy only a certain amount of your product at any given time. If you sell the kind of product that only needs to be purchased once, that’s not a worry. But if your product is designed to be bought repeatedly, you need to find out why your customers aren’t buying as much of it as you’d like.
Maybe the price point is simply too high to justify a regular purchase. In that case, you can figure out how you can your manufacturing costs lowered. Or perhaps your website isn’t set up to generate sales. That’s a problem that you can have your team address, and in doing so, you can make your company even better.
In all cases, your customers are the lifeblood of your business, and without them, you don’t have much of a business for very long. The best way to keep them around is to listen to them and try to understand them as best as you can. By getting to know who your customers are and what they think, you’ll put yourself ahead of the competition and set yourself up for real success.
Target Audience is a well-worn concept and a commonly cited reason for a rebrand. It’s also the foundation for your brand to create its position, which helps guide decision-making going forward.
How could it not be? Your target audience is central to everything you do, say, and create. You have to understand who you’re speaking to in order to make your message resonate or even matter. If you’re not doing that, or not being specific enough, you’re missing a valuable opportunity to really connect with the people who will not only buy your product but participate in your brand’s idea, development, and overall journey. This isn’t limited to your buying public, either: placing yourself in a landscape of other companies helps you create valuable partnerships.
Defining target audience is really about starting somewhere, observing, and reporting than it is about getting it perfect the first time around. Your audience will inevitably evolve. You might realize you’ve been trying to target the wrong people. You might find you’re using the wrong language to speak to them. In other words, there’s no rigid way of getting this “right”. Your approach needs to be nimble enough to adapt when you take steps to assess. How you decide to assess can be based on metrics like social media data and analytics. But it should also reflect your company’s stated goals and what really drives you. For instance, you may have started as a young company working with a much younger audience, but as you grow and change you might find your audience grows and changes with you. Their interests and passions will likely evolve, too.
Our own target audience has undergone a change to reflect our evolution as a company. Where we once engaged with entrepreneurs broadly, we’re making an effort to narrow our focus to entrepreneurs in certain industries. This will allow us to better engage with our own specific niche – something we’ve been working toward over the last few years.
UNDERSTANDING THE BRANDING PROCESS DOESN’T HAVE TO BE COMPLEX. In fact, branding can be made simple, easy-to-understand, and easy-to-consume by entrepreneurs and small businesses. I am an advocate for clarity and understanding when it comes to any topic that I’m interested in. It’s also important to me when I make decisions for my business, whether I’m hiring a contractor/vendor, partnering with another business, or simply deciding what other investments I need to make in the business.
One of the things that bothers me when it comes to entrepreneurs who provide a professional service, is the lack of definition of terms. I’ve seen it first hand where some entrepreneur either make up words, or use certain buzz words but have no clue when they mean. If you want to know one tip to build a brand and make it easier for customers to buy from you, then define your terms using plain-English definitions. I believe it’s important for any services professional. Whether you’re a business coach, consultant, web developer, marketing strategist, attorney, real estate broker, insurance agent, graphic designer, event planner, or architect, it’s important to recognize that people are less likely to buy when they’re not clear or if they’re confused. The clearer you can be in talking about your business and the value you provide, the greater the likelihood people will listen to you.
As an example, when I used to consult with Fortune 500 companies, I was trained by my mentor to define “Mission” as “why you exist”, and “Vision” as “who you strive to be”. Why did we do this? Every C-level executive has a different meaning and understanding of just those two words. In order to gain consensus among a group of executives to define their company’s mission and vision, we needed to first build consensus on the definition of said terms. Then, this allowed us to do one of two things:
In the end, each statement was clear, concise, and impactful.
Because I practice what I preach, I decided to share my key terms that I use in my brand consulting practice. Often, these definitions are consistent with other branders’ definitions. Many times, they’re different.
Have you ever thought about rebranding?
If you’re like many business owners, the answer is a resounding yes.
After all, in the face of stagnant sales, incessant competition and changing markets, the idea of becoming a new, “different” company can be alluring.
As our name implies, at Branding For The People, we work with entrepreneurs and small business owners like you who are committed to doing whatever it takes to succeed. And while we love nothing more than to help our clients achieve their goals, it’s often a challenge to know when and how one should consider the rebranding process. If you do it the right way, it can have an amazing effect on your bottom line. But do it wrong, and the consequence to your business can be dire.
So let’s discuss some situations where you should and should not consider rebranding.
Here are some scenarios where overhauling your brand might make sense.
This is a strategy that we’ve employed countless times for our clients because we believe it creates a cohesive brand and avoids confusion.
While we always welcome the opportunity to help our clients with the rebranding process, there are times when it doesn’t make sense or could actually be counterproductive to the goals you are trying to achieve.
If you’re curious if the rebranding process is right for you, we invite you to get in touch.
In a perfect world, your competition would never change their strategy, your customers would stay loyal forever, and you’d see exponential growth year after year. This is obviously not the case—and while you don’t want to be too hasty with a rebranding exercise, don’t discount the power of reinventing your brand, either.
You know the feeling. When a brand promises, “The very best service” yet fails to deliver a great experience. When a company promises the world and delivers a little blue marble, you lose faith in them. Trust is eroded.
When a brand fails to deliver on their brand promise it damages the brand considerably. It becomes a lie, and just like momma said, you should never lie to me.
When it comes to your brand promise you must get it right, and deliver on it consistently, or consumers will start mocking you and flocking to competitors.
Make Your Brand Promise Worth Something
There’s no point deploying a clever catch phrase if it doesn’t reflect your customer experience.
In fact, it’s best not to deploy if you can’t fulfill your brand promise company wide, from the sales pitch to the final product/service delivery.
What do effective brand promises offer that most do not? Clear value, thanks to one, two, or all of these traits:
There’s a good reason the “purpose economy,” led by companies like Whole Foods, is catching fire. It’s focused on improving lives and communities. It’s culture and values-driven, not profit-driven. And it resonates with consumers on an emotional level.
It’s the emotional piece that separates the best brand promises from the rest.
A brand promise with purpose speaks to the heart. It makes consumers feel good about supporting the brand, as both loyal customer and outspoken ambassador, for any number of reasons.
Emotional appeals like these are hard to resist. That’s what makes these brand promises so powerful and enduring.
Example 01. Tom’s Shoes – The One For One Company
Example 02. Lexus – The Pursuit Of Perfection
Example 03. Disney – Wholesome Entertainment
When a brand acts in accordance with its brand promise, especially if that means putting principles over profits, consumers take note.
CVS Health, whose brand promise is “Health Is Everything” recently ended tobacco sales at its pharmacy locations while also initiating a social media campaign encouraging smokers to quit.
These moves drew attention and praise from all over, consumers, celebrities, political leaders, and the American Medical Association, among others.
CVS could have limited its rebranding to a name change and new logo. Instead, it made good on a clearly meaningful brand promise.
Measuring a brand promise is hard to do, but if you can actually measure your achievements in accordance to your brand promise, well that’s pretty incredible.
Think Geico’s “15 minutes or less” brand promise. You can see for yourself if it takes you 15 minutes to save 15% or more on car insurance. If and when you do, it reinforces your trust in Geico. They made a promise and kept it.
Another great example is Southwest Airlines “Transferency” initiative. The promise, “Low Fares, Nothing To Hide” is clear, concrete and measurable. You yourself can hold Southwest accountable if you are hit with unexpected fees.
To consumers who have grown weary of empty brand promises, a promise that they themselves can hold you accountable to is a breath of fresh air.
The perception of your brand hinges on your ability to deliver on your brand promise. Consumers won’t take kindly to your emotional appeal, demonstration of principle, or concrete service guarantee if the experience isn’t consistent with the message.
Think long and hard about what promise you are making to your customers. Your promise is more than a sexy tagline. It’s a statement of your integrity.
Are there any brand promise attributes you’d add to this list? Are there any brand promise examples you find particularly effective? If so we’d love to hear them from you!
If this article was useful, please do us a favor and share it with others and/or submit a comment below.
Recently, after speaking at an event, a woman came up to me and said: “I loved your presentation. Can I ask you a question?”
Me: “That’s awesome! Sure, how can I help?”
Note: she goes on for about 10-15 minutes explaining all of her challenges with getting her business started, the products she wants to sell, and the different markets she’s considering going after. And, she never asks a question.
Here’s the thing.
We all are seeking an opportunity to share our challenges and frustrations with others about growing a business, but what will make the difference is not simply dumping them on someone else — rather, it’s about getting the help you need.
I’ve been there before. Almost 10 years ago I was in the same situation. Dealing with the highs and lows of running a business. At the time, I was in a high-level mastermind and surrounded by a great group of colleagues for support and help.
If you don’t have the luxury of participating in a mastermind or a supportive community of other entrepreneurs, and you’re looking to get “free” advice from someone, there are a few tips that will not only help you right now, but will prevent you from hurting your brand perception.
Please comment if you have some other tips for asking questions.
Making a decision to use stock photography or real images isn’t nearly as easy as one may assume. This is because there is no clear-cut right or wrong answer. Ultimately, it boils down to what a person may be looking for and what they are trying to achieve with the image. Variables exist when trying to make your decision, as there are many considerations to keep in mind.
Below, we will attempt to break down some of the pros and cons of each to help you make whichever choice is right for you. Some prefer their ultimate final product has the genuine feel only a real picture can provide while some prefer the ease and simplicity of stock imagery. It all boils down to which more closely aligns to your vision.
We’ll start by breaking down the difference between the two. Real images are pictures taken by you or a professional photographer for whatever use your heart desires. Stock photography is typically a storage bank of pre–existing pictures that you can choose from. Some of these storage banks are free to use, such as Google Images, but be careful! Things are not always as they appear as we’ll discuss below. For the savvy user, however, stock photography can lend itself to some pretty sizable upsides.
The first thing to consider when choosing between stock photography and real images is price. As mentioned earlier, there are many stock photograph banks that will allow you to choose from an assortment of images for free or very little cost, both of which tend to be very budget friendly.
Additionally, those working within time constraints might find hiring a professional photographer too time-consuming or expensive. Stock photo banks tend to offer a sweeping selection of images, with a search feature making it quick and easy to find a suitable offering with just the click of a button.
The most glaring con on of stock photos is lack of originality. Stock photo banks can be a great option for many people which is exactly what it sounds like–an option for everybody. Purchasing a license to use the image doesn’t prevent the next person who happens upon it from doing the exact same thing. Since most printing outlets allow customers access to the business stock photo image bank at no additional charge, the odds of running across a previously used picture are higher than one might expect.
Moreover, many stock photo banks rely on cliched, cartoonish characters or pictures that don’t lend themselves to a product or service meant to be taken seriously. Lastly, and possibly most importantly, using free stock photo banks such as Google Docs can come with a hidden charge if you’re not careful. Since many of these pull from images available online, the image may not be free of charge to use even if the platform is. This can lead to licensing violations, which can cost from hundreds to thousands of dollars if you’re not careful.
Real Images are quickly becoming the preferred choice for users, as the pros heavily outweigh the cons. Moreover, people typically find the ability to have complete control over the image, its quality, and how it’s used far too enticing. Since real images are photographs taken by you or a paid professional, you are in complete control over what happens next. The creativity that comes from being the one to decide the exact image as opposed to settling for something close can be a small but important distinction when it comes to branding.
It goes without saying that the biggest pro to using real images is originality and flexibility. Whatever vision you may have in mind can be created, with the option of taking multiple shots from multiple angles until you get the result that best suits your needs. This also gives you control over the quality of the image and the ability to format it for its intended use without incurring additional design fees, as many printers will not format images for free. Avoiding licensing fees, while not the biggest pro on this list, can save you time and headache by not having to worry about whether or not the image is being used correctly or as intended.
When it comes to a list of cons for using real images, there really aren’t any outside of potential cost. Hiring and scheduling a professional photographer can be expensive, depending on what you’re asking for. Investing in photography equipment or design software can also be costly but not something you would likely do unless you were to pursue such a vocation on a regular basis anyway. With cell phone cameras getting better with each generation and photoshop applications aplenty, the cost doesn’t at all need to be a deterrent.
As mentioned above, ultimately, it depends on your vision and which is better going to achieve what it is you want to do. Both offer their advantages and disadvantages, but at the end of the day, it’s about which is going to represent you and your brand the best.
Lawyers working for Entrepreneur Magazine have recently started sending “cease and desist” letters to business owners who use the word “entrepreneur” anywhere in their name. These letters urge the recipients to stop using the word “entrepreneur,” as it violates Entrepreneur Magazine’s trademark.
In a blog entry about the subject, Seth Godin, a guest blogger on DuetsBlog.com, writes, “With great cost and hassle, fledgling entrepreneurs […] who have finally gotten their business off the ground now have to dig in to either fight a huge law firm and their misguided but well-funded lawyers–or spend the money to change what they already built.”
There are a couple of problems with this, but most importantly: you can’t trademark the word entrepreneur. At least not the way Entrepreneur Magazine is trying to. Why not? Read on to learn more.
A trademark is defined by the US Patent and Trademark Office as “a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.” The term is generally used to refer to the lesser known “service mark,” which differentiates a business providing goods with one providing services.
You don’t need to register a trademark or any other form of branding to enjoy its legal protections. Simply using the mark—which generally means a logo, brand name, slogan, or other identifying device—grants you common law rights. And trademarks, unlike patents and copyrights, never expire (as long as the proper paperwork is periodically filed).
Speaking of patents and copyrights, they’re similar in that they’re intended to protect intellectual property rights. Patents protect inventions, and copyrights protect literary, artistic, musical or film material. Both expire after a set period of time.
The thing about Entrepreneur Magazine’s ill-advised attempt to prevent others from using the word “entrepreneur” is that you can’t trademark generic words. Under US trademark law, generic words (like apple, or entrepreneur) are not registrable, which means you can’t stop anyone from using them.
In fact, Apple Computer (now Apple, Inc.) famously sued Apple Records, which was owned by The Beatles. Apple Computer didn’t win—in fact, they ended up paying Apple Records a settlement to put the case to bed. They did reach an agreement that basically stated Apple Records wouldn’t go into the computer business, and Apple Computer wouldn’t go into the music business.
You can’t trademark a common word. Combine that word with the name of a product, (such as Apple Computer or Apple Records) and you’ve got a trademark.
If Entrepreneur made, say, smartphones and had a product called the Entrepreneur Phone, they’d have a defensible trademark. Likewise, if someone else started a company using the name Entrepreneur Magazine, they could sue over that as well. But just the word “entrepreneur”? Not a chance.
Though it remains to be seen what will happen with Entrepreneur Magazine’s threats, trademark law is pretty well defined in this area (though well-paid lawyers can make defending a trademark ultimately not worth the effort for small business owners, so it remains to be seen how this plays out).
Though you don’t need to register your trademark in order to have it protected, it’s a good idea to do so, as registration brings benefits that common law use doesn’t. By registering your trademark, you create a public record of your trademark, a nationwide “legal presumption” of ownership, and exclusive rights to use the trademark for goods or services defined by the registration.
If there’s a business out there called Entrepreneur Consulting (or Entrepreneur Bicycles, or Entrepreneur Bar & Grill for that matter), their legal defense against something like those cease and desist letters would be substantially easier if they’re registered.
It’s a good idea to trademark your business’s name as soon as possible if you want to protect it and prevent other people in similar lines of business from using the same name, logo, or other identifying characteristic. The trademark registration process even includes an existing trademark search that will ensure you’re not infringing on an already established trademark, and to ensure that the word, phrase, logo or other mark you’re trying to register doesn’t already exist.
If you are running a company already named something like, say, Apple Records and you later find out that there’s another (much more famous) Apple Records in existence, you not only have to change the name of your company (and all of your stationary, letterhead, and etc.), but you have to stop selling products or services under that name—and recall any products already on the market with that name attached to them. That could get expensive.
If, on the other hand, you spend years of effort and untold resources making your company a success in its field and another company comes along with the same or very similar name? You can protect your trademark (and your exclusive ability to sell goods and services under that name) by filing a lawsuit against the newcomer.
As long as you have a trademark that’s specific to the kind of product you’re selling, you should be protected (which is why Apple Computers wasn’t able to make Apple Records change its name).
If you’re trying to get your name out there, whether it be to promote your business or your blog, you will need to decide between building a personal brand or a business brand. Both of these choices come with pros and cons, and learning the differences between the two of them might make a world of difference to your project! Read on to learn more.
A personal brand is built around you as an individual. Your name is the focus, meaning people will associate you, as a person, with your products. Celebrities, authors, and professional speakers frequently use personal brands.
If you’re a one-person business, personal branding is a great way to make your services or products more relatable. People will feel more connected to your work, because they will feel as if they know you as a person. Personal brands are also very flexible; if you ever want to change the direction of your project or business, it’s much easier to do with a personal brand. People will understand it as you making an individual choice rather than a business suddenly changing its focus.
It can be difficult to scale your personal brand. If you want to expand, you’ll have to find a way to hire people (and all the different ideas they’ll bring to the table) while still maintaining your image as an individual. Similarly, it can be very hard to sell a personal brand, because it won’t make any sense being operated by someone other than you!
A business brand does not have one individual face. Corporations or companies that unite under one logo are considered business brands. If an individual were to start a business brand, it would not use their name, but a company name that either a team or individual would work under.
Business brands are often more immune to scandal or criticism. When one member of a company commits an offense, it is much easier to deal with than when a company centered around one individual suddenly has to address that individual’s mistakes. Business brands are also more sustainable. Because they are run by many people, or can be passed on to other people without confusion, business brands tend to be longer-lasting than personal ones.
Business branding generally requires more organization. Because what you’re promoting won’t be immediately obvious (compared to a well-known blogger, for example), you’ll have to put more work into raising awareness as to what, exactly, your brand does. You will also have to make decisions like what your company does and who you want your audience to be fairly immediately, and once you’re locked in, it can be difficult to change.
When you hear the name MARS Incorporated, you probably think of Skittles, M&Ms, and the other popular candies this company produces. Unless you follow their brand closely, you probably do not consider petcare items like Pedigree or their leading food items, specifically UNCLE BEN’S, which is a billion dollar brand.
In an attempt to expand their business past the confectionary sector and bring attention to their other successful brands, MARS has recently updated their brand with a new company logo and a mission statement that will help establish the brand as something more than just delicious chocolate.
With these changes, MARS also worked to differentiate between their many business areas. The MARS brand now includes MARS Food, MARS Petcare, MARS Wrigley Confectionery, and MARS Edge. Unified through the MARS logo, which is now sleek and modernized, these segmented areas help highlight the company’s business interests while reminding their consumers that they offer more than candy.
With their differentiated business areas, modernized logo, and restructured mission statement, MARS is able to take their brand in a new, and ultimately more profitable, direction. If you think your company might need a similar update, here are a few things you can learn from the MARS rebranding:
Rebranding is more than just marketing your business or giving it a new look or feel. When you rebrand, you are letting the world know what your company values, as well as the direction in which your company is heading. As such, it is vital for you to establish a company mission statement that will show the purpose of your company.
When you look at MARS and its rebranding efforts, you will notice that all of their changes support the new direction the company has taken. They are no longer focused on just pushing their candy and confectionery brands, and they want consumers to understand that they have much more to offer.
Is your company heading in a new direction? If so, what do you want your consumers to know about your brand? Are you heading in a new direction? Use this information to determine a course of action starting with an updated mission statement.
Before you start rebranding your company, sit down with your team and ask yourself if the purpose or the mission of your company has changed. If so, come up with a mission statement to reflect this change and show your consumers the new direction your brand is going to take.
Even if you are not making changes to the purpose of your brand, you still need to have a mission statement. If your target audience is confused about what your brand does or of its purpose, a clear mission statement can help you resonate with them more effectively.
Consider the mission statement MARS recently created for its rebranding. Its new mission statement — “The world we want tomorrow starts with how we do business today” — emphasizes that MARS is a brand that is not only looking ahead to the future, but also one that is working toward making that future brighter.
What does your existing mission statement say about your brand? If you cannot answer that question, or the answer to that question is different than what you would like for it to say, then you need to craft a new mission statement.
Every change that MARS made supports the fulfillment of their mission statement.
The company’s vice president of corporate affairs, strategic initiatives and sustainability, Andy Pharaoh, notes how young consumers- the future of the company’s success — want businesses to “stand up for things.” This new mission statement lets consumers know that MARS cares about the future it is helping to create. Their new logo features colors that are supposed to represent hope, optimism, and sustainability, which directly supports the company’s purpose, as well. Even the way they realigned their brand architecture supports the growth that they are aiming for in the future.
Whether you need to update your brand strategy because it is outdated and no longer relevant, or you want to emphasize a new purpose for your company, you should make sure that every single change you make helps support your mission statement.