Why Your Business’ Individual Brand is so Important?

Last month I spoke about the fact that belonging to a well known and respected brand in today’s competitive and fast changing marketplace is not enough to guarantee success any more.

I finished that article by explaining, “As a branded affiliate or member you too have a commitment to represent that brand as your own in order to achieve and allow the brand to provide the highest return.” In other words, having made the choice to belong to a branded organisation where that brand provides a return on your investment in belonging, you too must play your part in representing the brand to the best of your ability. This will ensure that you do not create “a weak link” in the reputation of the master brand and, if all other members are playing their part, the brand will be a strong, resilient one that continues to grow and attract customers for its members.

Having said that, I will add that you also need to work on ensuring that your own brand continues to be built and protected so that within the franchise, cooperative, marketing group or whatever business model the master brand practices, you stand out as a strong performer in your own right.

As highlighted in last month’s article the consumer today is in a very powerful position with their ability to make immediate comment on their experience at your property and have that comment sent into the ethernet for thousands, tens of thousands or even millions of potential users of your property to see.

The impact on your business can be enormous and something that should be taken very seriously. It can work for you or against you – depending on how you run your business and the reputation you have built. That is why I believe that even if you have chosen to take on membership of a major branded hospitality chain and accept representation of their rules, regulations and values, you need to ensure that the individual (personal) brand of your business is strong, healthy and works well with the master brand you have chosen.

If you do this you can help safeguard yourself against any negative publicity the master brand may suffer – from time to time in the social media scene as a result of poor performing members – and use the power of the consumer’s positive comments about your own performance to your benefit. It will also ensure that you build an army of social media advocates for your business who will come to your aid should you or any of your staff “have a bad day” (we all have them no matter how saintly we may appear!) and upset a customer who then decides to vent on Facebook or TripAdvisor.

So how do you build it? A personal brand is generally applied in the context of a person and refers to how others view that person, their reputation, their personal “product” or the service they provide, what they stand for and how they conduct themselves. These attributes can just as easily be applied to an individual business in:

• The service that is provided – by all customer and non-customer facing staff;
• How that business’ “story” is portrayed – its history, what it stands for, its values, its unique peculiarities and does it live up to the values it espouses and the promises it makes;
• The “personality” of that business – how they approach and treat their customers and the image of the business that is left with the customer.
• The ranging of services provided – how they complement the values and promises made and are they what the customers actually want;
• How complaints or customer/guest issues are addressed and the speed at which they are resolved;
• How the business is marketed or communicated and how the advertising used reflects the positioning and personality of the business;
• The wow or aha moments that are experienced by guests – it’s often the little things that are the most impressive;
• The pricing regime – does it provide value for money and is it competitive?
• Does the business listen to its customers?

All of these things help to develop a positive personal brand and the competitive individuality of the business and ensures sustainability and a strong reputation that will be revered and discussed in social media feedback forums. Individuality – even within a franchise or cooperative environment, so long as it is complementary to the values and philosophy of the master brand, is a strong tool in today’s competitive and consumer driven marketplace.

There’s nothing wrong with trying to be the best of the best!

A strong and positive individual brand will help your business stand out and survive the toughest of competition and economies. A strong and reliable positioning and reputation is your best ally and your most powerful weapon when attracting and meeting the needs of consumers who have a wide choice or need to be sure of their decision in a fluctuating economic environment.

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