Branding is irrefutably the most important part of marketing a business. It is what sets a business apart from its competition and what will hopefully be its defining feature in its industry. Finding what makes a company unique is something that should be within the mind of its leaders long before they open their doors. Yet some businesses still struggle with this form of identity crisis. Simply being the “best” or having “quality products” is a tenuous concept that isn’t easily quantifiable anymore because it has become the norm. Every campaign before 2005 had the word “quality” or “best” in its slogan and now, marketing is shifting away from these equivocal phrases.
Have you ever seen a marketing campaign that boasts being “second-best?” Me neither.
So, identifying your unique sales position is ultimately what will make your company a success. Imagine being your own customer, or identifying something within your industry that is missing, then filling those gaps. Creating a friendship with your customers and bringing a something memorable to their lives will ensure your role in their mindfulness much more than grandiose claims of superiority.
Yet, like I said before, most businesses know this before they open their doors. If you’ve nailed that part down then… AMAZING! You have the most important step completed that is sometimes the hardest to identify. But do your customers know what sets you apart? If not, how can you tell them?
If your branding doesn’t scream “I’m one of a kind”, then it’s back to the drawing board. Your company deserves this type of visibility and matchlessness, and to be honest, your marketing will suffer from a lackluster attempt at individuality. So how do you communicate what makes you special? It’s all in the story you tell.
We will use two different brands to prove this point. Do the same by analyzing how other companies in your industry, communicate their unique position, and how they convey the message to their customers. And of course, find what all other companies in your industry are lacking.
Saddleback Leather - This company makes leather bags and accessories, and...so do hundreds of other companies. However, Saddleback has distinguished itself by selling “excessively high-quality leather designs” that are overbuilt and backed by a 100-year warranty. Their logo: a thick, letter tag embossed with their name, with obvious stitching and three big rivets at the top. Their tagline: "They’ll fight over it when you’re dead.” Their ideal customer is someone who works hard and wants their bags and accessories to work harder and last longer.
Timbuk2 - Yes, another company that makes bags…but guess what? This one is…wait for it…different! By its’ name alone, we know that they are about travel and adventure. If you don’t want to wander out into the wild, brave the unknown, or at least have all your stuff clean and dry when you get to wherever you’re going, you may not be their target customer. Their current tagline is “Drive the bus” which, let's be honest, doesn’t necessarily convey a specific unique sales proposition, but the story behind it is compelling and reinforces their mission: “To inspire urban mobility, enable individuality, & promote responsibility.” They do this through their adherence to their values, which include statements like “Be Fearless. Deliver. Be Nimble. Engage. Lighten Up.” Timbuk2 is a fantastic example of infusing your company with personality.
These companies essentially sell the same product but their campaigns clearly define the difference between the two, from their mission, to how the bag should be used and the demographic they are targeting. These companies love their products (and it shows) because they used to be customers. They successfully set out to develop something they saw was missing in the industry and nailed their branding story by:
1. Putting themselves in the shoes of their customers.
2. Understanding the motivations of their customers’ buying behaviors and needs.
3. Uncovering the reasons why their customers would prefer their product compared to those of their competitors.
Using these three factors can help to skyrocket your sales position into one that is uniquely yours. Try seeing the approach from a different perspective. These companies were customers who opened a business to solve their consumer problems, so they may have had an easier time developing their brand story.
Take the time to sit down and talk about this with your loyal customers and your employees and develop around that concept. Then, integrate that concept into everything you do until you have created a story that your customers love and your potential clients are attracted to. It may seem easier said than done, but once you address these three branding steps and stay true to your unique sales mission, the rest will come a little easier.