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Back to Basics: 5 Brand-Building Questions to Ask Yourself (Part 1)

Updated: Apr 10

Imagine, if you will, a bustling office hyped with the energy of “disruption,” “transformation,” “revolution,” “next generation.” Buzzwords that get business leaders spinning with the latest reports and cutting-edge strategies, eagerly anticipating the next big breakthrough.

The allure of the new, the thrill of progress – it's intoxicating, isn't it?

Yet, amidst the excitement, I can't help but notice a subtle shift. The core principles of branding and marketing, once steadfast beacons of guidance, seem to fade into the background, overshadowed by the fascination of what's new and what's hot.

And if I'm being honest, I've been caught up in the whirlwind too. The intriguing novelties of trends, the rush of exploring new frontiers – it's hard to resist. But as I take a moment to reflect, I’m compelled to examine where we may have fallen off.

It's a tale as old as time: the relentless pursuit of innovation at the expense of the fundamentals.

Innovation, of course, is vital – a catalyst for progress, a driver of change. But innovation without a solid foundation? It's like building a castle on shifting sands – impressive, perhaps, but vulnerable to collapse at the first sign of trouble. 

And so, let us pause, let us reflect, and let us reconnect with the core truths of branding and marketing. Let’s revisit a topic close to my heart: What does your brand stand for? Here are questions to ask yourself.

1. What perception do you want to hold in the mind of your customers? 

Now, I know it might sound like a simple question, but trust me, it's the bedrock of your brand strategy. It's about being in control of the narrative that's playing in the minds of your customers.

You see, we often assume our customers perceive us in a certain light, but if you’re not intentionally in touch with your customer base, reality may surprise you. Understanding how your customers perceive your business is not just a guessing game; it's a strategic necessity. If there's a gap between what you think your brand represents and what your customers actually perceive, that's a red flag.

The key is to get out there, listen, observe, and test those perceptions. Engage with your audience, run surveys, have candid conversations. Because when you're aligned with what your customers truly think, that's where you can truly strategize towards a marketing plan that works. 

Remember, perception is reality in the world of branding, and you want to make sure that reality aligns with your vision. 

Perception can and should change

Perceptions can shift. Just look at how Microsoft transformed its image from a software giant to a cloud computing powerhouse with Azure. They recognized the evolving needs of their B2B customers and strategically pivoted their brand perception to stay ahead of the curve.

The point is to take the time to understand what perception you want to own in the minds of your customers, and then go out there and make it a reality.

2. What are the core values behind your brand?

“No one wants to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want to buy a quarter-inch hole.”

This is more than just a sales tactic; it's a profound reminder of the importance of understanding the "why" behind your business.

At its core, this concept urges us to focus not on the features of our products or services, but on the solutions they provide to our customers' problems.

When establishing the core values of your business, it's crucial to delve into the fundamental question of "why." Why does your business exist? What problem are you solving, and what values drive your approach to solving it?

Your core values are the guiding principles underpinning every aspect of your business – from product development to customer service to marketing to sales to operations, etc.. And by aligning your marketing efforts with your core values, you create authenticity and resonance with your audience. You're not just selling a product or service; you're sharing a story – a story of purpose, passion, and commitment to making a difference in the lives of your customers.

In essence, "sell the hole, not the drill," is a reminder that the true value of your business lies not in what you sell, but in why you sell it.

Sell the glory, not the shoes

Let's zoom into the B2C world with a powerful example: Nike. Nike's core values of empowerment, determination, and excellence aren't just slogans; they're the driving force behind their iconic "Just Do It" campaign.

Nike doesn't just sell athletic apparel; they embody a lifestyle of perseverance and achievement. Through their marketing, products, and actions, Nike inspires consumers to push beyond their limits and strive for greatness in their own lives.

Think about it – when you see the Nike swoosh, it's not just a logo; it's a symbol of empowerment and victory. That's the power of core values in action.

3. What are the unique differentiators that create the leverageability of your brand?

Your unique differentiators are the x-factor that sets you apart in a sea of competitors. It’s a hyper-competitive landscape out there. Customers have endless options at their fingertips, which makes standing out not just about having a great product or service; it's about being memorable, being the one they choose when faced with a plethora of alternatives.

Your unique differentiators are not just nice-to-haves; they're essential for carving out your niche, building customer loyalty, and driving sustainable growth.

But here's the challenge: How do you identify your unique differentiators?

It starts with introspection and market analysis. Take a deep dive into your business – what sets you apart from the competition? Is it your innovative technology, your exceptional customer service, or perhaps your unique approach to solving a problem?

Look at your competitors. What are they offering, and where do they fall short? Identifying gaps in the market can help you pinpoint areas where you can excel and differentiate yourself.

In marketing jargon, we call this your “competitive advantage.” Read more on this topic here: https://www.craftmarketingandbranding.com/post/what-s-your-sustainable-competitive-advantage

One Source, One Solution

In the B2B payment processing sector, competition can be intense. Many established players and newer fintech startups compete to provide innovative services to meet the complex needs of businesses.

PayNation's “One Source, One Solution" approach is a marketing push that effectively highlights how the company can stand above the rest. Their proprietary BridgeLink® solution offers a single source for all payment needs, simplifying the payment process for businesses, regardless of their size or industry. 

This unique differentiator empowers them to create leverage in the marketplace. But bear in mind, this is not just about being different; this is about being better.

Building Better Brands

This topic is near and dear to my heart, that I could easily write a whole book about it. As I should, hopefully, in the near future. However, for the scope of this article, I will pause here and carry forward my reflections in the upcoming blog post.

Suffice it to say, the path to lasting success lies not in the pursuit of what's new and what's hot, but in the unwavering commitment to what truly matters – building brands that endure, brands that inspire, brands that stand the test of time.

As the echoes of excitement fade and the dust settles, I smile, knowing that sometimes, the greatest discoveries lie not in the uncharted territories of the future, but in the familiar embrace of the past.

Rediscover your brand’s perception, core values, and competitive advantage with Craft. Get in touch with our experts today!

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