As a business owner, your biggest asset is your brand. It’s the shining billboard in the darkness that points customers the way to your business. It’s the thing that tells you’re just right for them, the story of your business and what it can offer that it makes it so tempting to shop with. It’s more enduring than any individual advert, product or piece of marketing, built over the course of years, to endure for years.
Consider the power of the John Lewis brand: their tentpole piece of marketing is their Christmas advert which doesn’t actually include products they sell or prices. It’s an affirmation and dramatization of their brand values – and it’s all they need to keep that story of the John Lewis brand being told in customer’s heads and ensure they keep coming back.
You need to make sure the brand you build – the brand you’re building every day – is right for your business. The John Lewis approach is perfect for a high-end department and home goods store. It’s less so for a fast food restaurant, or a hairdresser: you need to make sure your brand is the right one for your business. It doesn’t sound very exciting, but the best experiences customers have, the ones that bring them back time and again, are when they get what they expected: when your brand tells a story and the experience they have bears that story out.
The first thing you need to do is make sure you’re checking what your customers really think. Data is the most important tool in your arsenal and working with market research companies gets you good data you can work with to drive your business forward. Brand tracking surveys show you want consumers think of your brand – what qualities they associate with it, and how they rank it with other brands.
Demographic surveys show you what groups make up your market: whether the people buying your products are young or old, rich or poor, urban livers of countryside dwellers, and even what newspaper they read.
Combining these two sources of data lets you make sure your brand is the right one for you. Do people rate your brand highly for the qualities that resonate with the demographics you’re chasing. If they don’t, it may be that you need to change the approach you have to your marketing, to target it more effectively at the people you have pegged as your customers.
Of course data like this can also reveal your assumptions are wrong. Perhaps you’ve been fixated on the wrong customers all along and what you really need to do is pivot to the people your brand really does strike a chord with.