Branding your company may seem like a simple set of tasks. Choose a niche, a service or product for sale, a company name, a logo, business cards, a website, and “Voila! You’re in business! It is true that you can be “in business” with little effort. However, the degree of success you experience depends on whether you know and use basic but little-known “secrets”. Your understanding of these four secrets will catapult you ahead of your competition from the start:

1. your company’s values must be in harmony with your personal values Your corporate brand represents you and everything you stand for. You will spend many hours, days, months, and years working in your company and representing your business. If your company is an accurate reflection of your core personal values and does not conflict with any of these values, the long hours you will spend working in your company will be much less stressful. In fact, your working life can be a joyful and playful expression of who you are and what matters most to you. We all want to do a job that feels like a game. Now is your chance to create or reinvent your business to become an expression of yourself and create a “skin” you will feel comfortable in for many years to come.

2. your brand is only partially created by you. It is created by the public as they see you. You control the message you send about who your business is, what it stands for, and what it promises. You have no control over how the message is interpreted by your recipients, your potential customers. Your brand is also subject to the currents of public opinion. Many companies have fallen victim to your best marketing efforts by inadvertently creating a marketing message that is negatively perceived by the public, resulting in untrained and sometimes irreparable damage. Creating and perfecting your marketing message to attract consumers is an art that you must master to be successful.

3. instead of imagining who your ideal customer is, discover and imagine the success you will have. Crystallize your understanding of the customer you want to serve. Fiction writers create a “background story” for each of their fictional characters before they write a word. They evoke biographical details about each character, describe the influences they have had on their lives, and thus inform their character. The author then literally “knows” how each character would behave in a particular situation, and knows how his character would react to different stimuli. As a business owner, you must “characterize” your ideal prospect in the same way. This knowledge is necessary to enable you to produce products and services that your prospect will respond to and buy.

4. your customer is looking for an experience, not just a purchase. Because of the large number of options available, consumers have become accustomed to expecting an enjoyable and desirable experience with every purchase. Consumers have been trained to believe that when they buy a particular product or service, their lives will change for the better, even if only for a short time. A trip to Starbucks is an event and creates pleasant feelings in the consumer that go far beyond the purchase of a hot beverage. A trip on a cruise ship is much more than just transportation from one destination to another. Your product or service will be more attractive if it promises and offers a pleasant, perhaps even life-changing experience.

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