So what is “Brand”?
Brand is the embodiment of expectations you can influence but not control. Specifically, Brand is all of the physical and emotional expectations associated with you. These expectations began to exist before your name was spoken, before your logo was drawn, before the customer walked into your store, before anyone picked up your package, or heard your promise, saw your message, or had actual direct contact with you or anyone associated with you. And these expectations only get more distorted and complex with the passage of time.
Expectations, as everyone knows, can be messy, and aren't always accurate. Expectations can be clear or vague, positive as well as discomforting. But what ultimately distinguishes a successful vs. an unsuccessful brand is how well experience ultimately aligns with those expectations. That's where brand strategy comes in. We help people understand the expectations held for them and help them articulate their promises better.
What does that entail?
Humans have the unacknowledged goal of finding the unique way we bring value to others. The core of branding is finding that purpose and helping people live up to it’s promise. This involves helping you articulate and clarify your values and capabilities, your resource constraints, and what relationships matter to you. It means helping you challenge your unacknowledged assumptions and it sometimes means helping you to acknowledge uncomfortable truths.
The process of building a strong brand simplified: 1. Identifying value, 2. Articulating value, 3. Delivering value. It's the same whether we're an individual doing it for friends and family or an organization doing it for customers and community. By delivering value and performing in accord with expectations we create trust and build enduring relationships.
What do I do?
In addition to expertise in branding and value proposition development the main value I provide is objectivity. I give my clients the independent perspective they need to make better decisions. This may involve independent research with your stakeholders, or just careful observation, deep questioning, and reflective listening with you.
Brand strategy is a tool for aligning behavior, communications, and expectations. Like a therapist who helps you become the best “YOU” you can be, my processes are designed to help you understand and define your existing value, help you design and plan how you'll create greater value, and then help you develop the practical skills and tools to implement that plan.
Implementation may involve helping you craft your message and learn new ways to tell your story, working with your designers to refresh your corporate identity, working with your service delivery staff to revamp your the customer experience, developing a networking plan to help you grow your relationships, creating a content strategy to improve your inbound marketing, modeling your business development process to make your sales efforts more effective, or developing a training program to improve some aspect of your performance. What you need depends entirely on where you are and where you are going.
But whether for one-on-one coaching or when consulting for an organization of hundreds the goal is the same: Help you improve your decision making, clarify your purpose, and build stronger mutually-beneficial relationships with all those around you. Because that's what I feel branding is all about.
DF (Duane) Hobbs