When you’re running a business, your greatest strength is your brand. It’s not your people, or your product – because it’s still possible to succeed and rebuild if you take those away. Take away your brand identity though, and sales collapse. A good brand tells a huge audience that you are the best choice for them – it’s the first thing to flash through their brains when they think about your speciality, whether it’s paint, reading glasses or insurance. If you don’t have a strong brand, people simply don’t know enough about you to choose to spend their money with you.
It follows that one of the most important things you can do as a leader is understand the brand you’re responsible for. In the same way that people aren’t always the best judge of their own character, with huge blind spots about their own strengths and weaknesses, the creator of a brand doesn’t necessarily best understand it. Being too close to something can make it difficult to understand it from the perspective of a consumer, so you need help.
If you don’t understand your brand’s strengths you’re not able to take full advantage of it: if you see your brand as an everyday essential but have lower sales than you hope and expect, it might take an outside expert to tell you you’re pricing and presenting it as a luxury proposition.
There are plenty of consultants who can offer this expert, detached perspective, but for real insight we recommend a data-driven approach from market researchers. Finding the right market research firm to work with gives you a deep insight into your own brand – it’s an edifice built inside your customer’s heads, so you’ll need to canvas those customers to learn about it.
Working with market researchers gives you access to brand tracking surveys, placing you in the brand index so you can see how well you’re keeping pace with competitors. It gives you a deeper understanding of your customers, helping you separate them from one indistinct bloc into specific segments with specific needs. Perhaps most importantly, it lets your decision-making become iterative. You can measure the effects of each choice, and refine them to produce even better outcomes in the future. You can see just when and how a marketing push affects your audience, so you can ensure your next effort has even better results.
This is the difference between success and failure in business and the starting is understanding what your brand’s strengths are.