Martha Spelman on Branding: Just Say No Thank YouA strong brand separates your business from the competition. When customers are clear about what your business offers and about the benefits of working with your company, they’re comfortable buying from you or recommending you to others.

Strong branding identifies your business as the “go-to” in a particular industry. If your branding is “muddy,” customers are less comfortable hiring you; unsure of your strengths, they’ll lack trust in your abilities. They may instead keep on searching for a more credible option — a company they feel could better fulfill their needs will get the business.

A company that maintains a strong brand has strictly defined their audience, pricing and product or service offerings— hopefully, their brand strategy includes mission and positioning statements to further clarify what their company offers and to whom. And they stick with the guidelines they’ve set.

Businesses that don’t have a strong brand, who’ve “muddied” their offering, find themselves treading a dangerous path; one that may ultimately lead to the business suffering.

Small business owners frequently want to take on almost any project that comes to them — to keep cash flowing, employees busy or from a fear of turning down any work, they accept a project or order that is out of their brand scope.

Instead of saying, “Sure, we can handle that,” they should say, “No, thank you.”

What happens when you agree to a project or sale outside your branding guidelines:

  • Reduced efficiency (time and money may need to go into education, finding new vendors or staff, investing in new equipment, creating new processes)
  • Less profitable (or worse, money-losing)
  • You may not be available for brand-enforcing projects
  • Dilutes the brand offering – confuses customers, prospects and employees
  • Takes away resources that should be spent marketing your business to new and better prospects
  • Diminishes the brand “reputation”
  • If the project doesn’t work out, you’ve not only diluted your brand, you’ve damaged your brand

As your company’s marketing efforts should always reinforce your brand, so should the projects you take on.

Once you’ve set the path for your brand, stick to it. Wandering off that path could get your brand lost.

Yes, no one likes to say “No” to new business…but think of your brand first. Before taking on a new project, always ask: “Is it good for my brand?”

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