Over the past ten years I have had the privilege of helping my 9 brothers turn our small landscaping business into a well-known, well-respected, multi-million dollar brand.
Along the way I have also had the privilege of teaching, training and coaching other business owners to do the same with their businesses.
Over the years I developed a formula that I call C6™.
C6 helps to simplify and systematize the brand building process and it lays out six essential steps that you can follow to have a transformational effect on your company, turning it from just another company in your field to an admired brand.
- Define your Culture
This is a very crucial first step in brand building and yet it is one that is often overlooked. This could be because it takes some time and effort to do, with seemingly little immediate ROI. The return on investment however is huge. Making the effort to define and document your mission, vision and values upfront will give purpose and direction for you and your team and will begin to positively affect each of the other C6 brand building steps. Few things have as much influence on creating a brand as a strong culture.
- Develop and document Controls.
Step two is the development and documentation of systems and controls that will help you control your business rather than having it control you. Each aspect of your business from attracting and retaining customers, developing quality products and services, team building and accounting, will require systems that can be trained, measured and followed.
- Achieve Compliance
Step three is to achieve compliance in the first two areas. Well-documented values, systems and controls only begin to have an effect when they are actually being used and applied. There are two ways to achieve compliance. One is with a ton of rules, policies and regulations backed up by the watchful eye of a compliance officer. In some highly regulated industries this might be the preferred method. The second method of gaining compliance, and the one we have found to be the most effective is through alignment. Alignment or “buy-in” means that your team members have bought-in to the initiative you are trying to have them comply with. They understand its purpose, see its value and buy-in to the idea. People who buy-in to an idea do not need to be told to comply, they do so on their own. Alignment takes longer to achieve, but once you have it, it sticks. (See the 4INs of Buy-In)
- Show your Contrast in the marketplace
The fourth step in brand building is Contrast. If you want to be recognized as a brand and not just another company in a crowded marketplace you must be crystal clear about what makes you different from everybody else in your field. In the eyes of the average consumer you and your competitors are all the same, so if you want to build a recognizable brand you need to find ways to consistently stand out from the crowd.
- Support your Community
The old African proverb says, “it takes a village to raise a child”, and likewise, I believe it takes a community to build a brand. By community I mean all of the stakeholders in your business, not just the obvious ones like customers and employees. Your community also includes your family, your vendors, trade associations and of course the communities in which you live and work. Support, give back and contribute to these in any way you can and you will receive more benefit than you can ever give.
- Clout is currency
Once you have consistently applied the first five steps to your business you will find that your brand will begin to earn clout. Clout is influence and respect in your industry and among your peers. You become known as the “expert” in your field and get invited to tell your story in front of a wider audience. PR opportunities begin to present themselves. Your target customer will see you as their preferred choice, and existing customers become fiercely loyal. You become the company that top talent flocks to because of the culture that you have created. Once your brand has clout it begins to build its own unstoppable momentum and amazing breakthroughs begin to happen.
This is not theory. These are the exact steps we used to create an amazing brand instead of just another landscape company. No matter what kind of business you are in, and no matter what your role is, you can begin to go to work on these 6 steps today and begin the process of creating an amazing brand.
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As always, work smart, play hard and care.
Peter van Stralen
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