Branding is not science. Every business that creates a business and opens the door starts branding immediately. The question is, who is controlling and building your brand?
I could go on for days about the ways you build a brand, but let’s stay at the 30,000 foot level and grasp a concept. When you think of a brand, you are automatically filled with emotions about that brand. If I mention Rolex watches, it is likely you will immediately have a good feeling about the brand even though most of us don’t own a Rolex. Why and how does this happen?
The simple answer is that Rolex has systematically promoted the image of quality, reliability, prestige and accuracy in every message and point of contact you’ve encountered with them. Whether it is their spokesperson (Jack Nicklaus) or the magazine’s they advertise in (Forbes etc…), it all adds up to the adjectives I described above. Rolex maintained control over the brand, image and message, and they proactively promoted the message.
How do you control your brand? Simply put, you manage every single touch-point that your customers and prospects have with your brand, your employees, your vans, your uniforms, your building, and your sales person’s automobiles. For example, you have worked hard to establish your brand as a dealership of integrity, reliability, quality, class etc. You have used email, your website, social media, sales literature and the like to build your brand. Then your sales person shows up for the first call in a pull over shirt and driving a beat up, dirty car. There is an immediate juxtaposition in your prospect’s mind. “Who are they really?” I think you get the picture. Branding is literally everything you do that your current and potential customers can see, hear and experience.
Often times, manufacturers will attempt to leverage their brand through brand “blending” (blending their brand with yours). This should be given great consideration. Your brand could well be leveraged by piggybacking off the brand of your manufacturer. However, as many Firestone Dealerships found out years ago, one wrong move by the manufacturer, and your brand could take an enormous hit through no fault of your own. You relinquish a degree of control over your brand when you allow blending to occur with your manufacturer, so consider all the potential upsides and downsides before you do so.
Branding is not a complicated process. It takes time, management and planning, but if you control your brand, you control perception of your business.That’s a powerful position to be in, just ask Rolex. For more information on branding, Contact Us or give us a call at 502.298.4502.