Given any thought to having a brand strategy?

With so many choices confronting a business’ prospective customers and clients, the deciding factor for them usually becomes: Why should they choose your organization?

In this instance, branding can be a great help. Branding is a way to help differentiate a company and promote its true competitive advantages.

If there is no differentiation, there is no long-term profitability.

That was the message from David Avrin, a marketing and branding professional known as the “Visibility Coach,” delivered in his presentation to SOLD (Service Opportunities and Learning Day) - a program designed for the owners and managers of shop operations in the parts and service industry. SOLD was held prior to this year’s Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week, the largest North American gathering of the independent heavy duty aftermarket, which took place in mid-January.

Who Knows You?

Business is not about who you know, it’s about who knows you, Avrin told attendees. Build your brand and you build your business.

What is a brand? Basically, it is what a company is known for. A brand creates an image in the mind of the customer.

Branding builds an expectation about a company, its services and its products by establishing a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains customers, he informed the crowd.

Level Playing Field

“Building brand has become more difficult these days because the playing field has become level,” Avrin explained.

“There is a plague of blah, blah, blah. Everyone is saying the same thing: ‘Our people make the difference. Our reputation speaks for itself. We do business with honesty, integrity and trust. We care about our customers. We’re passionate about what we do.’

“The reality is that being really good at what you do is no longer a competitive advantage. It just gives you the ability to do business.”

Dangerous Words

“The four most dangerous words in business are all things being equal,” said Avrin. “Because when all things are equal, we shop on price. Does anyone want to be the low price leader in their category? No.”

All things are never equal, he elaborated. Provided that a company is priced competitively, it needs to give customers a reason to choose it over all others who are good at what they do.

“You have to find the differentiators, those things that you do best, and then persuasively communicate them to your prospective customers. Things can never, ever be allowed to be equal.”

What Do You Do Best?

Avrin said a starting point for finding business differentiators to build a brand is to answer the question: What is your organization best at?

By way of example, he asked the audience to name the car manufacturer that makes the safest cars. The unanimous reply: Volvo.

That may or may not be true, he said, but Volvo is the company you instantly think of. The company has that share of mind and that is what you want to strive for.

To help answer the “what are we best at” question, Avrin recommended doing a competitive analysis to identify competitors and to evaluate their strategies to determine their strengths and weaknesses relative to those of your own products and services.

“You can’t be a commodity,” he stressed. “You need to find what differentiates your business and then communicate that effectively to your prospective customers.”

Define Your Brand

“Most companies spend years and considerable amounts of money to build their businesses, processes and reputations, but spend only minutes to craft the words they use to describe what they do,” said Arvin. “If you can’t define your brand, your customers won’t be able to either.”

Branding is about getting your prospects to recognize you as the solution to their problem, he continued. If you are perceived as such, customers will pay a premium to deal with your brand.

Customers won’t know what you are remarkable at until you take the time to figure it out and then communicate that persuasively to them on a regular basis, emphasized Arvin. That is how you build a brand, gain share of mind and help people know that you’re a better choice than you competitors.

Personal Brand

The case for branding can be made for people as well. What are you known for throughout your market segment?

You may not realize it, but others have a perception of you. Taking control of developing an image, your personal brand, can help with career advancement and success.

Understand your strengths, communicate your value – both inside and outside of work – and showcase what differentiates you from others in your field.

There is power in branding, and branding is not just for products anymore.