Branding Demystified

Most companies know what their unique selling proposition is, but a dominant selling idea (DSI) is a stronger version of the concept – a unifying, energizing, focusing, trust-building, clutter-removing, lean-value-creating notion. It’s a motivating difference at the moment of the purchase decision that communicates our #1 position in a “desirable specialty” that’s important to our target customers.Unless we’re able to define our DSI, we won’t be able to attach it to our brand; thereby fusing our name to a #1 specialty in the customer’s mind.

First, we must articulate our clear, ownable specialty. To view our company as #1 at something, customers must first relate us to a specialty category, even if we have to invent it! The idea isn’t just to identify our broad category, but to define a specialty in which we are (or can be) #1. We start by identifying all of the sub-specialties in our niche (e.g., quickest, best value, most advanced, best quality, most energy efficient) and their possible combinations (e.g., advanced and durable). Ideally, an effective DSI will possess five selling attributes: superlative, important, believable, memorable, and tangible. When combining the five attributes into a succinct DSI, we create a dynamic, memorable selling idea that we can connect with our name.

As leaders of companies, we must understand our DSI, and how to clearly communicate it to others. Not only do we set the example; we have the opportunity to invite our teams into the process. Regardless of how long our companies have been operating, and what our revenues look like, it’s important to take time with our key leaders and work on our DSI. For some of us, that may mean documenting one for the first time, while others of us may benefit from refreshing the DSI with our teams. Either way, when our organizations have further clarity on why we are different than the competition and how to communicate that distinction, our companies are more aligned for growth.

Every company has a brand. Some have worked to carefully build their brand, while others have been assigned a brand from their customers that they would rather not have. For every company, the work of defining and building a brand never stops. Because of changing markets, competitors, and products, there is always a need to close the gap between our current brand positioning and our desired brand positioning. It’s possible for any company to close the gap, but you will want to avoid these five branding myths to reach your goal.

I need to have a big budget to build a brand

It’s possible to create and maintain a strong brand regardless of size of company or budget. Start by defining what sets your company apart from the competition in the mind of your customer, or the dominant selling idea (DSI). Once the DSI is determined, communicate it to customers, and deliver on promises with Iaser-like focus. As leaders, we can accomplish our desired brand identity with clarity, intentionality, and time, all of which don’t cost money. It’s up to leaders to decide if we want to put in the effort to cultivate our brand or have one given to us by default.

The best brands are entertaining

There is a difference between entertainment and effective branding. creating something memorable doesn’t give you lasting business. Poor service, quality, product, etc. will always undermine advertising. Being first or spending the most money doesn’t matter all that much. Focus more on consistently exceeding customer expectations and less on making an initial splash in a market.

Branding is the job of my marketing team

Creative branding ideas are only a start. Billions have been wasted in making a splash rather than building value. While this culture has subdued a bit, it’s imperative for CEOs to understand and authorize marketing efforts – both from the perspective that it requires good stewardship and the fact that the company brand flows out of company culture. Your brand must align with the firm’s stated mission and core values to be credible to internal employees and external customers. Do the work of creating the desired internal brand, and the results will manifest in a quality external brand.

There is no silver bullet on how to build a brand

The truth is, there is a silver bullet, but most companies aren’t willing to put in the time and effort it takes to implement. Successful brands are built with consistent, tightly crafted brand messaging and constant follow through. Break through the clutter by consistently delivering on your promises, and over time your brand positioning will continue to improve.

What built my brand will maintain my brand

Sustained success means conveying a sense of trust and perceived quality. This happens over time, but new threats to your brand are constantly emerging. New competitors, products, delivery systems, and communication tools will be introduced. Your mission of consistent messaging and follow through will remain, but the strategy in which you accomplish those things will need to change along the way to take the next step in your brand positioning.

When you have questions on business topics like branding, how do you get the answers you need to grow your business? Every month, thousands of Christian business owners and CEOs gather together to answer questions and share best practices learned from the combined hundreds of years of business experience around the table.