What makes your company important? Peeling back the mystique of your brand

Stumped by the concept of identifying your brand and what makes your small business unique? While “branding” may have been the overhyped “business word of the week” once or twice, it continues to be important insofar that you (not to mention your employees, prospects, customers and influentials) need to know what it is that sets your company apart and gives it value.

Let’s step back from mystique and jargon and give some fresh thought to what your company is all about, and consequently, what your “brand” is.

Why does your company exist? In this case, you are looking at the question from a potential customer’s point of view. To get to an answer, provide realistic – neither hyped nor overly modest – answers to the following:

Establish what you offer.

Remember, you not only offer products or services, but you may also offer something less tangible.

Write it all down. For example, “We sell complex medical equipment to hospitals. Decision-makers feel comfortable calling us before they buy when they don’t fully understand what differentiates some new device from its past incarnations,” or “Clients often ask me for business advice during a call, and are comfortable straying outside the matter they originally engaged to discuss.”

Establish what makes you stand out – what makes customers choose you?

If you sell pizza, and are one of seven take-out pizza shops within five minutes drive (or that deliver), why do your customers choose you? “We are the only pizza shop around inn town that caters to special diets including gluten-free and vegan,” or “We deliver within 20 minutes of your order.”

Do customers like working with you? (Check out “Five Ways to Determine Whether Customers Like Your Company.”)

Examine your likely customers, both current and future.

“Other tech firms sub-contract XY and Z to us, because they don’t want to staff specialists full-time,” or “We hope to add more affluent consumers to our client base by offering trust management services.”

Identify your company’s geographic range.

“Let’s face it, people won’t go out of state for this service,” or “Are you kidding? If we could find customers on Venus we’d feel qualified to serve them!”

State not only what your company is today, but also what you realistically plan it to be.

“We’ve enhanced our ability for people to use our services through their mobile devices and now 30 percent of our new customers first use us online; we want to continue to increase this percentage,” or “We’re adding high-level engineering staff that will let us deepen our involvement in the automotive aftermarket.”

Now make it sing.

“Accentuate the Positive,” as was advised by the Oscar-nominated Johnny Mercer/Harold Arlen tune from the 1940s. Create a brief summary (your written elevator speech) that includes the reason your company exists, what differentiates it, who it serves (including your geographic reach) and – in short – what the company is and what it aspires to be.

Then revise, revise, revise (or get some help revising) until the branding summary makes you feel great when you read it.

Nice work.


Michelle van Schouwen is president of van Schouwen Associates, LLC, a B2B marketing company based in Longmeadow, MA. The company is known for vSALaunch, its proprietary, modular and scalable system for B2B marketing launches, as well as its expertise in integrated marketing for B2B. Its geographic range includes companies throughout and beyond the United States, and its marketing is global. Contact Michelle at michelle@vsamarketing.com.

© 2014 Michelle van Schouwen

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