BY BILL FAETHMany small business owners get caught up with the word “brand” and believe it’s a term reserved for huge, global corporations like Nike and Apple. The reality is that every business, regardless of size, already has a brand and can benefit from establishing a brand identity.
What Goes Into a Brand
Your brand is much more than a logo and tagline: It is your customers who will determine your identity. By taking a few steps to create your branding standards and define your brand, you can control your own destiny.
Your branding standards include your logo, tagline, and colors. You’ll also want to include the messaging you want to deliver via your marketing, website, trade shows, and employees. This ensures that your brand and your message are delivered consistently.
A consistent message is one of the key elements that most companies don’t adhere to over time, which ends up causing confusion in the marketplace and with your potential customers.
Dare to Stand Out
Many luxury transportation companies have been instructed to let their shiny new late-model vehicles define their brand. In my opinion, this is a critical mistake, as the majority of our industry have similar vehicles and, to be frank, your high-end customers may have nicer personal vehicles than the ones you offer.
Your brand is the perception of what your customers think of your company, and not just the vehicles you offer. For you to succeed, you must stand out.
Very rarely do I see companies in our industry telling a story of the brand, where it began, how it got to today, and how the business is beneficial to potential customers.
Commonwealth Worldwide is one of the larger companies in the industry that has done a great job of leveraging their story: Dawson Rutter started out as a taxi driver who founded Commonwealth and later built a Boston-based company that focuses on road shows and global service.
To this day Commonwealth still leverages three taglines within their story that I truly love because they are integral components of their story and the history of their evolution:
“Anything But Common”
“This All Started Behind The Wheel Of A Taxi”
If you visit the “About Us” page on the Commonwealth website, you’ll see the story about the business, as well as a picture of Dawson next to his first car in 1982. Dawson even created a video that talks about “The Commonwealth Way,” which perfectly conveys the brand to prospective customers.
Their branding strategy is very different than most other companies in our industry, and stands out for all the right reasons.
Where to Start
When you are ready to reevaluate your company’s brand, there are a few easy steps you can take to start creating the right story for your company.
First, write down how you want your company to be perceived by your customers. Is it that you are speedy and easy to do business with? Do you go above and beyond in customer service? Do you excel at group transportation? Define this perception and use it as the foundation of your brand.
Document the characteristics of your company, the history, and where you are going. Use these characteristics as you shape your brand’s story that you will incorporate into your website, your marketing materials, and the story you tell to prospective new clients.
To this day Commonwealth still leverages three taglines within their story that I truly love because they are integral components of their story."
Stand out. How is your company different? Why should someone do business with you. Be sure to focus on the value you offer from customer’s perspective; not on your vehicles.
Once you have these concepts written out, use your notes to create your brand’s messaging. Implement this message company-wide, including with your chauffeurs and CSRs. This will help your brand maintain a consistent message.
Lastly, you can get down to the physical elements of your brand, the logo. Create branding standards for your logo, colors, and taglines so you're consistent with your brand’s design elements. Keep them consistent on your website and in your marketing.
Remember, your brand is more than your logo or your fleet: It’s your entire reason for doing business. [CD1216]
Bill Faeth is Founder of Inbound Marketing Agents in Nashville and Founder of Limo University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.