If your restaurant serves unusual dishes that appeal to sophisticated palates, anything that you do to demonstrate this fact will encourage one set of customers and discourage another set of customers. Without the right brand, a customer willing to spend more on exotic game or sculptural desserts will look elsewhere, and someone looking for a burger won’t find what they’re looking for. Clarity is a critical part of a strong brand. It makes it easier to find the customers that you do want and to keep the customers you don’t want from expecting something you don’t provide.
A strong brand also provides clarity for your staff. When your employees understand exactly what you offer and how you offer it they’re more likely to explain that effectively and to give your customers what they want. A waiter that knows he has to please diners who have an extensive culinary vocabulary won’t “talk down” to guests, and a waitress at a diner that knows that she’s dealing with a hungry crowd may serve guests quickly. These examples seem obvious, but we’ve all run across service professionals who can’t seem to answer basic questions, damaging the brands of their employers. Ask yourself, “If I asked everyone on my staff to clearly define what my business offers and who we offer it to, would they all have the same answer?” Without clarity in the minds of your employees it’s unlikely that your brand is clearly defined in the minds of your customers.
A clearly defined brand also prevents your competitors from “rebranding” you. Some businesses build aggressive campaigns aimed at diminishing the brands of their competitors, creating questions in the minds of current and potential customers. But if you have a clearly defined brand it’s much harder for anyone to uproot that foundation. If customers are certain about what you offer, they don’t need to look around. And, no matter what a competitor says, they won’t believe it.
Al loves swimming. On the swim team in both high school and college, he found it a great way to stay in shape. After an automobile accident, Al found that his rehabilitation was greatly improved by his swimming routine. His business is focused on the thing he loves most, but he’s had a hard time getting that across to potential customers. Some people assumed that Al’s was a natatorium — an indoor swimming pool. Others figured he sold scuba gear and diving equipment. But in reality Al’s Aquatics is focused on the intersection between swimming and fitness, offering the suits and gear needed by everyone from top-tier teams to those using the pool to recuperate after surgery.
To both clarify his brand in the public mind and attract potential customers, Al decided to become a major contributor to swim teams at all educational levels, including college. He also volunteered to coach his son’s middle school team. In conjunction with a local hospital he developed a fundraising campaign for a nonprofit rehabilitation center, advertising the benefits of swimming for those in need of physical therapy. He also worked with retirement centers to facilitate water aerobics and other courses for the elderly. These activities clarified what Al offered while demonstrating his support for the sport.