It takes purpose and persistence to create a product, service, career or cause that truly matters. But if you care deeply, chances are that others will too. By navigating the seven C's of branding - Clarify, Commit, Collaborate, Connect, Compete, Communicate,and Contribute - you can build the emotional foundation and ongoing connective touch points that foster long-term relationships with your customers.
When you create a compelling brand, you capture more than just the market share, you capture the mindshare – that is, the heads, hearts, and trust of your customers - that leads to loyalty. While some people think of their brand as their logo, website, or even their array of services, it's much more than that.
It's that enduring emotional connection, positive association, and automatic set of expectations that the very sound of your company’s name generates. Want some examples? Apple. Southwest Airlines. Zappos.com. These companies have captured the mindshare of their markets. You can create that same kind of loyal connections for your business. Here’s how >>>
Clarify: Focus your brand on your customer benefits, not just your services. Using clear and compelling language, make sure your marketing messages lead with your customers’ best interests, not your pedigree or technical specs.
Commit: Mark Twain said, "The secret of getting ahead is getting started." Once you clarify your customer value and vision for success, keep the big vision top-of-mind. But don't forget that it's the daily actions that you take on behalf of your customers that lead to loyalty.
Collaborate: Information is the organizational life-blood on which decisions are made in every company. Except for confidential or proprietary data that can’t be shared, pass information readily both up and down the pipeline that can help others make timely decisions. This doesn’t just mean sharing the facts, but also the nuances or "emotional truths" that you encounter.
Connect: Ask any salesperson who knows his stuff and he will tell you that it can take a dozen or more touches including emails, phone calls, newsletters or in-person meetings, before you begin to build a relationship with a prospect. Your organizational brand is no different, except that instead of selling a specific product or service you are creating a bond between your prospect and your company. Start the relationship off right with a branded "welcome packet" that lets your customers you know have a process in place and that you are serious about taking care of business - their business, that is.
Compete:We all have competition and it comes in lots of forms. Although most people recognize direct competition - that is, those companies offering products and services that fill a similar need as theirs - they frequently underestimate the indirect competition and completely overlook the invisible competition. Watch out for invisible competition including customer fear or inertia, new challengers ready to pounce on your marketplace, and fading relevance.
Communicate: You can fight its unfairness all you like, but science shows us that people who are extroverted, confident or even over-confident are at a definite advantage in the workplace. Be ready to communicate with confidence, even if you don't always feel it. Participate fully by coming to meetings armed with industry updates, news headlines, and even sports scores. Sit in the front, dress for the part, act as though you deserve some attention (without being obnoxious) - and you'll probably get it.
Contribute: Everyone should be able to identify and articulate the value they contribute to their customers. According to studies, 80 percent of Americans prefer to do business with companies that support social causes, while 72 percent of employees say they’d like their employers to do more in support of the issues. Why not choose a charity that fits your brand, actively (and genuinely) support it and share your cause with your customers? Everyone wins.
About the Author
An internationally recognized executive coach and branding expert, Libby is the former head of communications and public relations for Sony, Universal, and Turner Broadcasting. She was also the “branding brain” behind the launch of the Dr. Phil Show. Her clients include ABC-Disney, Nike, PayPal, Warner Brothers, Wells Fargo, and many others.