The good news is this same fast-moving, quick-hit, Internet age that makes branding a necessity also makes it feasible for that mom-and-pop shop to battle “the big boys” by employing similar strategies at only a fraction of the cost.
After all the painful losses suffered by stock market investors in 2008 and 2009, how is it that Merrill Lynch, Fidelity, Morgan Stanley and so many other big name brokerage firms are able to continually attract new clients
every day? A big part of the answer can be summed up in a single word: branding.
Every truly successful advisor or business person knows that the key to success lies in attracting customers instead of chasing them, and that is really the entire principle behind branding
Think about this: If you were to go door-to-door in your community and ask people if they recognized the Merrill Lynch bull and knew what it stood for, do you think the majority would have a good answer? But as an independent advisor or FMO, how many of those same people – in your own community – would recognize your name or logo and know what it meant? Probably a lot fewer, right?
The fact is, in today’s fast-moving, quick-hit, Internet age, any business – big or small – that doesn’t find a way to brand itself and create broad visibility for its brand is at a disadvantage. For good or ill, the power of branding today spans all global, socioeconomic and generational boundaries. And there’s no fighting it.The un-branded mom-and-pop shop that can successfully compete against the corporate giants is becoming increasingly rare.
The good news is this same fast-moving, quick-hit, Internet age that makes branding a necessity also makes it feasible for that mom-and-pop shop to battle “the big boys”
by employing similar strategies at only a fraction of the cost.
Look around and you’ll discover there are so many diverse avenues and opportunities out there these days (not to mention turnkey programs and experienced marketing professionals available to help) that you can definitely find a branding strategy somewhere that fits your budget.
I’d now like to share what I feel are the top five reasons you should be branded. And if you read them carefully, you’ll see that each also contains some practical advice on how to go about it.
1. We live in a visual age –
In today’s world, with so many words and so much white noise bombarding us constantly from our computer screens, phones, TVs and radios, we’re inclined more than ever to respond to strong visual cues. Though an eye-catching visual element is only part of what makes a strong brand, it is at the heart of many of the biggest branding success stories. I already mentioned the Merrill Lynch bull, but consider also the Nike swoosh, the Apple
apple or the Shell shell. Most people recognize these even without the company name attached. That’s a strong visual element, and an important component of these successful brands.
2. Modern say “messaging” is constant –
Have you been pumping gas recently and found yourself staring at a television screen at the same time? Remember when going to the movies meant you didn’t have to sit through commercials? The point is, today’s media is omnipresent. Whether you choose to stay “plugged in” by checking your iPhone every 10 seconds or not, you can’t escape the messaging that comes at you almost 24/7 in today’s culture. But that also means that if you have a powerful message to deliver and can encapsulate it in a strong brand, you’ve never had a wider array of avenues by which deliver it.
3. You need to stand out –
The basic goal of a brand, according to the American Marketing Association, is “to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate
them from those of other sellers.” Branding is a dynamic and effective way to create that differentiation and to communicate on a broad scale the very essence of what makes you not only different, but better than all those other guys.
4. You create new opportunities for growth –
Once you have an established, successful brand, customers aren’t the only ones likely to take notice. Competitors, colleagues and the overall business community will as well, and you could find yourself discovering opportunities for expanding your business you might never have considered. Don’t forget, Apple, Inc. began in someone’s garage, and Subway was once a single restaurant in Connecticut opened with a $1,000 loan.
5. It’s the ultimate way to attract, not chase –
Again, this is the key to any truly successful business, and the whole idea behind branding. As Laura Lake of about.com Marketing correctly puts it: “Branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but about getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem.”
And by delivering on everything your brand promises, you’ll create all-important brand loyalty
, which is the key to not just to achieving success, but enjoying it in the long term.