Ask yourself this question: in this day of mergers and acquisitions, what do you want your customers to say and think about your company and the service you provide?
The answer you come up with will tell you what kind of identity you need to establish. Identity is at the heart of building your brand. A California State University study on the power of brands showed that a brand can influence perception of quality and other product attributes.
So what is a brand identity in practice? Some common words used are innovative, pioneering, high-tech, reliable and stable.
Three important factors exist in helping determine brand identity, and I’ve used these to create and hone my own company brand.
- Type: As in, what type of business are you? This might seem obvious, but it’s surprising how many people don’t sit down and determine what kind of business they are or want to be. We determined that our service brings value and our results are meaningful. We wanted a conservative brand image that conveys the fact we’re protecting the livelihood of our clients.
- Target: As in, what is your target market? A rule of thumb to follow in developing your identity is that it should match the identity of your customers and potential customers. We determined that we need to meet customer demand in both the digital and non-digital spaces. Yes, we provide sophisticated testing to help clients keep up with data-driven digital farming. On the other hand, not everyone is internet-savvy, and they prefer a phone call to get simple test results. People like to deal with people who reflects their own image.
- Competition: Some say your business identity should come close to your competitor’s, and others say you should stand out from your competition. For an identity with the greatest impact, you want a blend of the two. Having an excellent reputation, with consistency and reliability, are key. Our business is seasonal, and no one has time for mistakes or having to get second opinions. You want to project an image and be transparent.
In the end, what you need is an image that can give you a competitive advantage. For me, it’s crucial to project the image that we are innovators with a different approach to research and development who can really focus on what matters to our clients.
So how do you go about actually creating this new identity and getting it down on paper (or in digital format)? See my next column for insights.