You are your brand

Find your inner Mickey Mouse and build your business brand

The day you become a parent is the day a trip to Disney gets automatically added to the family bucket list. These days, it’s almost mandatory that every kid feels the “Magic” and parties once with Mickey, Goofy, and the rest of the gang. As a parent, you stand zero chance of competing against one of the world’s strongest brands and the apparent guilt that goes with not taking the chickadees to the Magic Kingdom.

This might surprise you, but every company has a brand. It’s not the tagline or logo that’s plastered all over your website and every piece of steel you own. Your brand is what stakeholders think of the experience they have when dealing with your company. Your brand makes a promise about the benefits and the value that your products have to offer. It’s the DNA that shapes your company’s personality.

The day you hang your shingle is the day you start building your unique character and culture. Ironically, in service industries like trucking, more brands originate through the day-to-day actions of employees than are hatched in strategic planning sessions at the boss’s favorite resort.

Before you waste one nickel revamping your fancy-dancy five-color logo, I suggest you dedicate some resources to getting a complete and thorough understanding of your company’s “Mickey Mouse,” the one thing that clearly identifies who you are.

History is important: How has your company treated people in the past? If stakeholders have been consistently treated with integrity and respect, you’re likely well thought of and can build on your legacy. Conversely, if you don’t pay suppliers on time, ask employees to BS customers, and have a poor Dun and Bradstreet score, you’re probably going to find that your checkered past is impacting your bottom line.

Brand is a bridge: Your brand is the bridge between your customers’ and your employees’ experience. According to Fifth P Solutions Inc., a human resources consulting firm, 82% of customers stop doing business with a company because of a bad experience with an employee, therefore, it’s critical to understand what your employees think about their company. Start the process by signing up for Survey Monkey, a free online survey service. Ask your staff to be frank about their place of work. Your employees’ perception of your brand will mirror that of your customers.

SWOT analysis: One of the most effective ways to understand your current brand is to figure out where you rank among the elite fleets that play in your sandbox. A SWOT analysis will help you identify your strengths, weaknesses, the opportunities open to you, and the threats that should be keeping you up at night.

Social media: Social media has taken some of the power out of the boardroom and given it to Joe Anybody. You no longer have total control of your brand or what people say about you. The days of writing a complaint letter to the PR department have gone the way of Morse Code; 79% of customers will tell others of their negative experience with Fred Grumpy. In 2012, when ex-employees are upset with the way they were dismissed, they fire up Facebook and rant to their heart’s content.

Even if your company isn’t tweeting away, you need to track what people say about your business on social media platforms.

Creating a compelling strategy for your brand should only start once you fully understand who you are. Disney understands branding better than anyone. Maybe it’s time to take a cue from Uncle Walt and figure out what’s your Mickey Mouse.

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