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Are You Seeing the Bigger Picture

I took this photograph a few years ago during a family visit to the Okefenokee Swamp in South Georgia. The funny thing is, when I took the picture, I didn’t even see the frog on the alligator’s snout. I was too excited, and maybe a bit anxious, about capturing a great shot of the gator that I didn’t see what ended up being the bigger picture. It wasn’t until I stepped out of the moment and reviewed all of my photos from the trip that I saw the frog! This reminds me of the challenges many start-ups and small businesses face … being too focused on immediately jumping into selling and not taking the time to focus on the bigger picture - building a differentiated and sustainable brand.

Most start-ups and small businesses typically get one shot at launching a business, and it is understandable that they need to generate sales as quickly as possible. For a fortunate few this approach works, and they go on to achieve sustained success. However more often than not, entrepreneurs encounter soft or declining sales and don’t really understand why and what they need to do to turn the business around. This is where taking the time early on to build your “brand house” proves beneficial for the long term. Building your brand house first helps you understand and truly focus on your biggest opportunity.

Think of your brand house as the foundation for continued success. It starts with clearly defining your business ambition. What does success look like, and what is realistically achievable? To comprehend this, it is important to first focus on the MARKET by analyzing market trends and the competitive environment. Are you entering or attempting to compete in a growing category with few competitors, or a saturated and highly competitive environment? Will your sales come from organic category growth, or by taking market share from your competitors? These are critically important questions as the answers will compel you to focus on the real and, perhaps bigger opportunity.

Once you understand the market, you should then focus on your BRAND offering and what makes it unique, different, and special from your competition. What promise are you making, and is that promise believable and defendable? Does your brand have equity, and does it offer unique consumer benefits? Many “me-too” brands ultimately fail because they simply do not offer anything different, better, or special vs. competitive offerings. And, in the sea of sameness, low-cost providers typically win. Are you prepared to always be the low-cost provider? One of the greatest benefits of a truly differentiated brand offering is sustainable higher margins.

After understanding what is truly unique about your brand offering, it is critical to understand and define who specifically your core, or most important, target consumers are. Do you understand the needs and motivations of your most important customers? What do these PEOPLE look like, how do they think and feel about your category and your offering, what will be most important and motivating for them? Does your brand promise resonate with them, and is it believable?

Once you truly understand your market, your brand, and the people most important to your business, you can then move forward with developing your brand positioning, which can and should inform and influence your selling and marketing approach and content going forward. Stay tuned to this blog for more on developing an effective brand positioning.

In summary, in the rush to capture something great, we often miss seeing the bigger picture. Taking a step back to really understand and then focus on the bigger picture can lead to more success in the long run. Do you really see the full picture of success for your business?

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