Imagine if Volvo made helicopters and baby carriages; you’d still expect them to focus on safety, wouldn’t you? That’s what Volvo is associated with – ‘safety’ is the essence of their brand. Yet too often, companies become swayed by the ‘customer is king’ mantra without aligning consumer needs with their company’s core values.
There we were, a group of entrepreneurs chatting over lunch; we ranged from trainers to property agents to software developers, to health consultants, caterers etc. The question posed for our discussion was “Are YOU the CEO of your company? What do you think the CEO does anyway?” Like strutting peacocks we preened our smart answers. What a variety we presented!
“My customers are my CEO’s” , “I allow my team members to be my CEO’s” “There is only one CEO in my company and that’s me” etc., etc.
Next question: “If you had to appoint a CEO, what qualities would you look for?” Most people’s responses centred around “someone who can get along with people”
Oops! So now it’s clearer as to why teams muddle along just trying to please everyone. Do YOU see it too? So many business owners are in day-to-day ‘jobs’ chasing sales instead of living out a Vision, because it is unclear. That means that competitors can easily encroach on market share because there’s no brand to defend, employees will job-hop more frequently because work places are similar, and worst of all is the high potential of getting caught in suicidal price-wars.
The reality is that the CEO should carry the company’s Vision, ensuring that it is reflected in every operational area, and that every staff member must be familiar with it and implement it in his or he area of responsibility. Delivering the essence of a Brand is what keeps customers in and competitors out. Brands enhance value; especially the personal brands that independent distributors need to convey when they represent a global brand – the products are identical anyway.
What can you, the entrepreneur do to convey your competitive value, the essence of your brand? You and your core team could have a brain-storming session to identify precisely what the essence of why your customers are coming to you is? Is it ‘fun’ (Disneyland), fast-service (Pizza Hut), ‘lower pricing’ (Ipoh White Coffee), ‘compassion’ (RSPCA) etc.?
Your brand essence is your key strength for sustainable profits and you can build numerous products and services around it. It is worth taking the time to clarify what it is, and to align everything that you do with that essence.
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