Your Brand: Who You Are and Who You Want to Be

We’ve gone over taking your first steps toward thinking about your brand -- what it is and how it can work for you. We’ve examined the range of stakeholders who affect your company, from employees to customers to the community, and how your brand resonates with them.

The next step is to take a hard look at the results so you can figure out how to work on developing your brand daily or go to a branding expert with a clear vision of exactly what you’d like your company to reflect.

Sort Out the Research

The strategies for getting a sense of your brand are varied. You’ve thought hard about it yourself. You’ve talked to your employees, management, customers/clients, and some trusted advisors. You’ve compared yourself with competitors, you’ve tried to get a sense of your company’s reputation, and you’ve done your best to quantify a host of intangibles.

It’s time to ask the hardest question yet: Now what?

Lay it all out. Compile it, describe it, outline it. Put together everything you’ve got and read through it -- and then talk about it with some members of your team.

The goal here is to get a sense of what your brand actually is right now, and the way to get there is to commit to honesty. Brutal honesty. If it’s clear that employees aren’t in love with the company, admit it. If the community thinks they’d be better off without you, don’t lie to yourself about it. If customers think you’re great, but that you’re overpriced, accept it.

As you compare the whole range of stakeholder perceptions, you’ll probably identify a few patterns or recurring themes. Acknowledging those is the beginning of understanding your brand.

And be just as honest about the positives, too. It’s important to be critical and self-aware, but you need to be just as keen on the things that are keeping you in business. As you move forward, you’ll need to address as many liabilities as possible as you make the most of your assets. To do that, you need to have a solid handle on both.

Does Reality Match Your Vision?

That sorting step helps you define your reality, whether it’s amazing, in need of repair, or somewhere in between. Once you have a reasonable sense of your brand, ask a simple question: “Is this who we want to be?”

Maybe it is. All brands have areas to improve, but maybe it’s a question of strengthening a few core areas rather than a total overhaul. If so, nicely done -- your branding work will be about toning and tightening rather than a full-body makeover.

And maybe it’s not. It’s possible that a significant aspect of your brand -- or your overall brand -- needs some serious TLC. If so, that’s alright. The way to fix a problem is by identifying it clearly.

Once you know who you are and who you want to be, you can start taking the appropriate steps to reinvigorate your brand. Do a consult with a branding firm and see what they say. Identify great local brands, then call them up, compliment them, and ask if you can take a key player out to lunch to pick their brain (which is a great networking opportunity). Start thinking about how much you can budget toward building your brand -- and, of course, how much you can benefit from the initiative through increased sales/production, more partnerships, and lower employee turnover.

When we talk about the core responsibilities of a PEO, we usually end up talking about people -- and in a business, the strength of your people depends in part on the strength of your brand.

The stronger your brand, the better your company will perform. As that performance climbs, the more easily you can hire outstanding talent, offer great compensation/benefits, and grow your company.

So, isn’t it about time to figure out who you are and who you want to be?

Rodney Steele