Defining your brand means much more than naming the company or developing the right ad. Too often, entrepreneurs create a brand in a piecemeal fashion that can confuse customers.
For example, many companies are named for the founder, even though that name has no direct relationship to the offering. A founder's name can, eventually, become associated with a product, but blank page entrepreneurs don't usually have time and money to invest in the large-scale, long-term branding efforts required to achieve name recognition.
When you define your marketing position as you create your offering, you can establish a much clearer position in the minds of your customers. This approach creates a synthesis between your offering and your audience that is far more effective. Taking one specific aspect of your offering and promoting it creates a clear, concise mental image for your customers. You can create your brand from:
- how you offer your products and services,
- the average per customer sale,
- the most important characteristics of your products and services,
- the kind of relationship you offer your customers,
- and the marketplace where your business will be competing.
This approach works for both products and services; companies that provide haircuts and blue jeans and sneakers can all be defined from these approaches.
Same Products and Services, Different Offering
If you cut hair, who’s hair do you most want to cut? Men? Brides? Kids? Each of these offerings completely changes the nature of a business, and a stylist will need to communicate differently with each audience. Brides may want an exceptionally skilled hairdresser that will clear the calendar to focus attention on the big day. Men may prefer to visit a salon with wood paneled walls and televisions tuned to the sports channel. Kids will feel more comfortable in a salon filled with toys. Each of these offerings is completely different, even though the services are fundamentally the same.
Products work the same way. You can offer footwear for athletes who will wear out a pair on the court or collectors who won't wear them at all. You can create custom tailored jeans for a single individual or manufacture jeans in massive quantities for wide distribution. The products may be very similar, but the psychological needs of each audience are completely different, and the offering reflects that.
Andrew’s Art Arrangement
Original artwork is expensive, which severely limits the number of available customers. Collectors may buy and sell frequently, but the average consumer has to live with a chosen piece for a long time. Our tastes change, so something that we loved once may seem less attractive in the future. If we redecorate, the art may not fit well in the new room. If we move, the new house may not provide a good place for the art to hang. This is how, over the long term, an expensive piece of art may end up in the attic. All of these objections come into play when customers are standing in front of a painting they love but simply can’t see spending several thousand dollars to own.
These consequences don’t reflect the love people have for art; they come from the long-term cost of ownership. Andrew, a local gallery owner, decided to create an innovative program that would overcome these objections and allow middle-class art lovers to become long-term customers. He developed Andrew’s Art Arrangement — a unique program that gives customers the opportunity to “rent” artwork for a few months at a time.
- A customer creates a plan for hosting some number of pieces of original artwork for a specified period of time. For example, a family may choose to have a sculpture in the entry hall, a painting to hang over the fireplace in the study and another painting to hang over the couch in the living room. They might choose a three-piece plan that allows them to keep pieces of original art in their home for three months.
- A gallery assistant visits the location to get a sense of the interior design, take photos, and interview the customer to discuss his aesthetic preferences. The assistant also measures the spaces where the art will be placed.
- The assistant returns to the gallery and, using photos of the spaces, creates mockups using selected pieces from the gallery’s collection showing how they will look once installed. These mockups are emailed to the client.
- Once approved, the selected artwork is delivered to the home and hung by professional handlers. For an additional charge, lighting can also be installed to better present the work.
- Detailed biographies and portfolios for the artists are supplied when new art is delivered. This gives customers a chance to learn more about the pieces while providing exposure for the artist.
- After three months, the artwork is returned to the gallery and new pieces are delivered.
- A customer can, at any time, chose to purchase the artwork and keep it permanently. The contract is renewed each time the period ends, and customers can choose to discontinue the program at any time.
- A record is kept of the customer’s preferences. These profiles are refined over time to better equip the gallery assistant when selecting new pieces.
- Customers must purchase a mandatory insurance policy to cover the cost of the art in case of damage.
In addition to paintings, Andrew decided to offer sculpture and large-scale installations for customers — including businesses — with larger spaces. Of course, Andrew began marketing this program by reaching out to interior designers and offering them a commission on program enrollment. He also began offering invitation-only parties for clients enrolled in the program where he would show the works of new artists and familiarize customers with pieces that they could include in the rotation.
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