Top-Shelf Tip No. 104:

"To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You."

Tom Peters

Brand: When Size Doesn’t Matter

When it comes to brand, size doesn't matter. If you have a business, competitors and customers then—voila—you have a brand. It does not matter whether you've defined that brand or not—you're leaving an impression on others in your market. If you have a small business, then you have as much right to define and promote your brand as a larger company.

Promotional Consultant Today shares these tips for defining your branding DNA from marketer Mark McCulloch.

Start by choosing four people from your team, ideally those from different departments, with different levels of seniority and length of service. Choose a facilitator and set aside time to have some in-depth conversations, covering these questions:

1. What are you? Describe your business as if you were describing it to your grandmother. No corporate jargon and no waffling.

2. Who is your target customer? If you could only have one type of customer for the rest of your business life, who would that be? Be specific in describing the customer.

3. Why would this customer buy from you? Think of all of the possible reasons why customers would use your product or service. List as many as possible, and have a vote to cull down to the key reasons.

4. What are your competitors' advantages? Think of three competitors that are keeping you awake at night. Ask members of your team to pretend that they are in charge of those companies and list all the reasons why they are better than your company—be honest, brutal and factual. You then have the chance at the end of each presentation to say why you are better than the competitor. Four or five unique selling points or competitive advantages should be clear after this exercise.

5. What's your brand personality? Take a range of recent magazines (travel, music, gossip, home, food, photography, sport). Pass these out to the group and ask each person to find one picture that encapsulates the personality of your company. Ask people to present their pictures, and words that describe them, to the group. Write up the main personality words and then narrow all the collated words down to four that describe your brand.

6. What's your tone of voice? Once you have agreed on your brand personality keywords, select supporting words for the main brand personality words. For example, if brave is one of your main brand personality words, it could mean that pioneering, confident and spirited are good supporting words for your tone of voice. This is then how you sound on all communications, from your website to social media posts.

Now pull all of the answers together with a positioning statement. Start by answering: "Our role in the life of our customer is …" Then weave in what you do, who the customer is, their motivation and how you do it. This should be a tight paragraph that has no waffle in it and it will serve as your foundation for all messaging.

Source: Mark McCulloch is a brand-focused creative marketer with more than 15 years of heavyweight experience in branding and marketing. He has been responsible for brand repositioning and cultural definitions of the lastminute.com group of brands across Europe, and is currently working on global brand strategy, visual identity roll-out and colleague engagement program for Barclaycard. He is also heading up marketing at YO! Sushi to make them cool again, and raising coffee sales at Pret a Manger by bringing them into the digital age through social media and mobile marketing.

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Compiled by Cassandra Johnson


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