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Five Levels of Branding

Five Levels of Branding

If you are excited to get branded, then you need to know that there are four levels.  In this article, you will:

  • Learn all four levels and fully understand them;
  • Realize which level you are now at;
  • Set your short-term goal to climb up to the next higher level;
  • Set your long-term goal to attain the highest level.

The first level is, unfortunately, not a level of branding at all.  It is actually life without a brand and it is called Brand Absence.  97% of entrepreneurs are at this level.  For them, life is tough.  Sales are tough.  Price cutting is the norm.  Working overtime, evenings and weekends is required.  Vacations are rare.  Income lower than desired is usual.  This level is way too common and is responsible for chronic overwork, failed marriages, ill-health and many other woes related to working way too hard for way too little money.  This level (or more correctly, non-level) is worth zero out of ten.

Brand Awareness is the first real level of branding.  Awareness is nice – it’s better to be at least known versus unknown.  But, don’t take too much comfort at this level.  Simply paying for a huge billboard in the middle of town will ensure that you are known by many, many more thousands of people.  But, awareness alone does not well translate into sales.  You may know of Rolls Royce, but it does not do the Rolls Royce salesman any good if you are never going to buy one.  Hence, this level is worth one out of ten.

Finally, we arrive at a level of branding that has some value – Brand Preference.  It’s really nice to be preferred.  If people prefer you, they will go to you first.  They will ask first if you are available.  They will call you first or visit your website first.  Nice.  And, if you are available, you’ve likely made a sale.  If you are a little out of the way, or out of town at that moment, or busy, or your price is just a shade too high for them at that time, then their preference fades and they will soon seek another.  So, there is definite value, but not too great.  I assess this level at three out of ten.

Now, we finally arrive at the top.  Brand Insistence.  I am insistent on Starbucks.  If I want coffee and there is no Starbucks, I will not buy coffee.  Period.  Many of my own clients are insistent on me – they will go to my bootcamps and workshops and conferences on branding and will not go to others’.  That’s really nice.  It means that your attrition (that means loss of existing clients) will be low to zero.  It means that you do not have to spend marketing money or time to get new business from those who are already insistent on using you.  I evaluate this level at the full ten out of ten.  Interestingly, though, it is not the top.

The very top is Brand Advocacy.  At this exalted level, your current clients tell others about you.  At this level, you get an endless stream of new clients for free for the rest of your life.  Apple is the most valuable company of all time because such a very higher percent of its clients are brand advocates.  I am, for example.  I’ll tell anyone how wonderful Apple is.  Because I am an opinion leader, many Apple products have been purchased by those I teach.  I don’t get any financial benefit from Apple.  So, why then do I do it? I do it because I feel such love for Apple that I am compelled to tell the world.

You now know and understand the five levels.  Identify at which level you are at in your business.  Set your goal to get up to the next higher level.  Set your long term goal to have many brand advocates.

If you wish to learn about branding from me and indeed actually be branded by me, simply attend one of my powerful branding experiences:

Examples of Escaping The Sea Of Sameness

Examples of Escaping The Sea Of Sameness

You escape the Sea of Sameness into the River of Relevant Differentiation by branding yourself or your business.  I have been branding my clients and their businesses for years and indeed have become such a leader in the field that I was asked to write Branding Small Business For Dummies.

Most entrepreneurs kill any hope of being branded simply by the way they introduce themselves.  “Hello, I’m a Realtor.”  “Hello, I’m a Plumber.”  The death word in those sentences is the indefinite article “a.”  When you proclaim that you are “a” provider of your services, you are admitting that you are the same as everyone else.  To brand yourself, you must switch to the definite article “the.”  This article will provide some examples.

There’s some rules and there’s some techniques – but mostly there’s some artistry and breakthrough thinking needed.  Let me give you some examples in different industries.

One of my clients is a Dentist.  He is exactly the same as every other dentist in his city, yet he still needs to compete.  I branded him as The Smiling Dentist.  The truth is that he smiles no more nor no less than any other dentist – but think about it.  If you had a chance to go to just “a” dentist or The Smiling Dentist, can you feel that tug to go to the smiling one?  You may object and indignantly proclaim that you select your providers on more scientific grounds.  But, you know that that is not true.  Did your dentist graduate top of his class?  Do his fillings last longer than the average filling?  Are his diagnostic abilities strong or weak?  You see, you don’t even know.  No one else does either.  You simply cannot judge a dentist’s professional or technical skills – so you select your dentist on other matters, like his branding. Notice he no longer says he is “a” dentist; he proudly says he is “The” Smiling Dentist.

I branded Mary as the Realtor who gets you into a home larger than you thought you could afford.

Michelle is now the Broker who helps you sell your business for more than its worth.

Dexter is now the sales professional who’s always on.  He proudly ends all conversations with the line … “Why would you want to use a sales professional who wasn’t always on?”

Al is the only fitness instructor in the world who offers to get you “Cheeseburger Abs” and his book of business has dramatically increases, and so have his prices.

Those are just some examples.  I know you are getting the point.  When you are “the” and not “a”, you start to become branded and hence escape the dreaded Sea of Sameness.

If you wish to learn about branding from me and indeed actually be branded by me, simply attend one of my powerful branding experiences:

An Overview of Branding

An Overview of Branding

Nike has its famous “swoosh”.  Rice Crispies has the “Snap, Crackle & Pop” triplets.  KFC has its unique fragrance.  So, you know that giant companies are distinctive by a specific sound or taste or smell or touch or visual.  But so what?  How does that help the all-important entrepreneur, the small businessperson?  The answer is that it does not help at all.  The way large corporations brand themselves is totally unrelated to how you brand yourself or your small business.

A startling statistic on branding is that 97% of entrepreneurs are not branded.  To an outsider (that means a prospect), every Realtor, every butcher, every electrician, every professional, etc. all look exactly the same.  So, it is a struggle to compete since you don’t stand out.  To get business when you are not branded, you need to play the odds – that means make lots of sales calls and hope for the best.  Or, you can spend lots of money on advertising or social media or whatever.  But, it is all a huge waste of money and time.  So, most entrepreneurs simply cut their prices to get business and hence live dangerously on razor thin profit margins.

The next startling statistic on branding is that the few entrepreneurs who attempt to brand themselves choose the wrong aspect of their business or themselves to brand.  They choose what actually everyone else in their industry does also, hence they are not unique or branded.  Examples include claiming that you are excellent in customer service or available at all hours or been in business for over ten years or you continually upgrade your skills by taking ongoing courses.  When I ask such misguided entrepreneurs if there are others in their industry who do customer service or have long hours or lots of years of experience or keep educating themselves, the sheepish answer is always “well, yes, I guess”.

My first comment about branding yourself is not going to seem very helpful, but it needs to be said.  There is no rule or formula for branding, for if there were, everyone would follow that rule and all brands would be the same and that would ruin the brand.  For you see, a brand has as its purpose to make you stand out.  Being the same as everyone else is the opposite of a brand.  That means that branding has some science and a lot of art.

You need to select an aspect of what  you do that truly stands you out, makes you different, has others exclaim “wow”.   Think of all the five senses – notice what others in your industry talk about and see if you can select something else to use to create your brand.  To use a product example, Proctor and Gamble owns Folgers Coffee.  Maxwell House was the world leader.  Folgers wanted to overtake Maxwell.  So, the Product Manager of Folgers studied all other coffees and noticed that they all focused on their taste.  So, Folgers focused on its aroma.  Instead of TV commercials showing smiling people sipping coffee and exclaiming how wonderful it tasted.  Folgers created TV commercials showing people smelling he aroma of coffee and waking up refreshed, without even drinking.  The result?  Folgers raced past Maxwell House to become the #1 selling coffee in the world and has retained its position for decades to this very day.  Notice – Folgers is not any different now than when it was #2.  The taste nor the aroma have ever changed.  Just the branding.

Products, people, businesses – they all can be branded for greater sales and higher profit margins.

If you wish to learn about branding from me and indeed actually be branded by me, simply attend one of my powerful branding experiences:

How Small Businesses Can Compete & Beat The “Big Dogs”

How Small Businesses Can Compete & Beat The “Big Dogs”

As a small business services consultant, one of the questions I get asked most often is: How can my business compete with big companies to win top-tier candidates?

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to pay more or offer ridiculous benefits. And you won’t have to give away all of your profits in bonuses either…

Sure, it’s true that money is what motivates the VAST majority of us to come to work everyday. It’s also true that what we’re each willing to do and even not do increases with the size of a job offer.

Read more…