The day that you made the decision to give your brand a big kick up its bum and leave the old-school way of thinking behind was the day that you chose to stand out from the crowd. Taking that leap of faith into the unknown was in fact a huge acceptance of the fact that you are now part of a new era of modern-day business thinking.
First, let’s take a look at the things that prevent people from taking the leap towards being brand famous. These are the obstacles that I see as being prevalent among entrepreneurs, business owners, CEOs, MDs and anyone trying to grow their brand, regardless of how intelligent, passionate or committed they are to their work. If you cannot overcome the obstacles that follow then you could find yourself – as many do – struggling to move forward with your brand. They may seem massive to you, and small to other people. What’s important is how you deal with them.
Find Your Dot
Here are the six most common things that I have come across, which disrupt a brand’s flow as it attempts to grow. They are all common obstacles that people could face at some point, but don’t worry – there is an easy way around them if you follow the process in this book.
DOT 01: I DON’T KNOW WHERE TO BEGIN
– BUILD —
I know I have a great brand but I just don’t know what to do next.
I once sat with a group of business owners who had come together to get underneath their business models and their brands – one of them did not even realize that she had a brand and could easily have missed out on simple ways of maximizing her brand, and yet to me the possibilities of her brand were endless. Each of them was typically keen, focusing on getting published and drawing up product ideas to leverage their brand, and yet there was an underlying sense of fear between them which showed that, despite all their passion, they had overlooked just how special or valuable to other people their brand could potentially be. The fact is that they had no idea how on earth to implement their fantastic idea.
It’s most likely that you are sitting on a gold mine, just like these guys were, and you just don’t know how to leverage it. You look at other people’s businesses and think that yours is just average in comparison. One of the guys in the group above actually declared, “Wow, your brands are so much more exciting than mine” and yet when I looked at his brand, as with everyone else in the group, I saw pure gold. Whether an interior designer or an accountant, you all have a story to tell and a package to wrap it up in with a massive bow tied around it – a metaphor for you going that extra mile.
There is no ordinary business out there, only basic strategies lacking structure, direction and creativity. You live in a world where anyone can become a brand in an instant. Internet and high-speed communication enables you to communicate with anyone in any country at the press of a button.
The only thing that is stopping brands from making this happen is the people behind the brands. It’s time to make a change…
In the last century, before the digital age came into effect, small and large brands were reliant on a much slower form of communication. Up until the late 1990s, print and TV were the main channels of communication with many brands relying on the expensive commodity of advertising in magazines and on billboards as their main source of budget spend with the goal of raising revenue. Compared with today, that’s like communicating with smoke signals across a valley!
To go global for any brand size has never been so easy.
A small brand has all the opportunities to go global. Since digital came into play, it has given the smaller brands a chance to reach out to a wider audience on a global platform and speak with a voice of authority through multiple integrated touchpoints. Never has a small unknown brand had so much opportunity to go up against a big force brand with multi-million-pound budgets and be a threat to their share of the market. One idea can be channelled through a variety of platforms to speak to the end consumer on several levels, so that it generates interest and leads to a sale. Small brands find that multiple sales are generated without the added cost of advertising.
DOT 02: FUNDS ARE STOPPING ME FROM GETTING THERE
– BUILD –
I have brands that come to me with next to no money to spend on an event or creative solution for their business, yet there is always a way of creating an experience for your brand with a minimal budget. Make something happen out of nothing – you just have to find it.
When I first opened the doors to Surgery, I worked with a world-famous product designer for a number of years called Marc Newson. At the time he wanted to do a book launch and the publishing house had £2000 to spend on the event. For a world-famous designer, an event budget of this amount was not going to live up to Marc’s superstar status! I managed to raise £30,000 by persuading all of his product manufacturers to provide me with a small amount of money to promote them through Marc’s book. The launch went ahead at a mansion house off Harley Street, London, with a documentary filmed by BBC1 showcasing how I launched the event and how I achieved the star-studded attendance that was present on the night. Did the book sell out as a result of all the publicity on the night? Of course it did. Next time you face this obstacle, instead of saying “I can’t afford it”, ask yourself “How can I afford it?” The solutions will come at you from all directions.
We are living in an age where to play big is easy.
Since 2000, search engines have become more powerful and research and information are easier to access. From 2005 onwards, the world of social media and the multiple platforms available to you and your business mean that you can be a global brand at the touch of a button. What’s your dream? Your own TV channel? A global shop window? A huge interest in what you do, talk about and represent? Now it’s possible to have all of this at a low cost to the business: your own TV programme, your own magazine. You can self-publish your own e-book and distribute it through your online shop; you can generate your own networking community to chat about your brand and target specific people who are interested in your brand without wasting money spending big budgets on advertising (where 90% is wasted anyway by targeting the wrong people); and you can even save money on your bus fare to work as you no longer actually need to leave your home!
DOT 03: I HAVE TOO MUCH WORK TO DO IN MY BUSINESS TO SPEND TIME WORKING ON GROWING THE BUSINESS
– RENOVATE —
I once sat with a guy who had a small business with four members of staff; he was complaining about not having the time to get things done. I sat there listening to him, whilst wondering what he was really doing on a day-to-day basis. I got him to prepare a very simple spreadsheet with every single heading that was really important to him in his work – there were 10 headings. We then listed what there was that needed to be worked on by him and what actually could be farmed out to other people – 80% of his working schedule was easily farmed out to freelance consultants who were very keen to work and help his business grow; the remaining 20% he was able to get done. This led to an 80% increase in turnover.
By stepping away from the business and detaching yourself from your everyday regime, you will be able to see the picture more clearly and not get bogged down by the details. You will see the actual work that you need to do that will benefit the growth of the brand and the work that can be done by other people. This will then give you the space to be creative and love the job that you started out to do and not get drawn into doing things that are not your passion. Once you have created this structure in your business, you are then able to delegate out the work that is not your strength and fall back in love with the side of your business that is. You can be the master of your ship, driving it forward to exceed all your expectations.
DOT 04: I HAVE BEEN STICKING TO THE OLD-SCHOOL REGIME
– RENOVATE —
One of the biggest mistakes I have noticed from my own experience is that brands are not seeking to discover new ways of working with their product lines in today’s world that give them the tools to create the stand-out status they have always wanted! I am grateful you have picked up my book as a resource to achieve this, as we need more stand-out big brands taking up their rightful space within the marketplace.
What is a dinosaur brand in the making?
Many big brands that were stand-out in the 1990s found that they were slowly turning into dinosaur brands. Why? Because they didn’t move with the times; smaller brands who engaged in faster levels of communication began reaching out more easily to a wider audience with lower costs of execution to make rapid growth a reality, leaving the once-big brand behind. This previously big brand could be a sleeping giant or on the brink of extinction.
Richard Branson was quoted as saying that “fortunes are made out of recessions”.
Should this not redefine the thinking behind any brand? If you and your brand move forward with the times you will never have to think about recession, you will be making so much money from your stand-out brand that you will be able to laugh in the face of recession. Never stand still. Keep on moving, otherwise you will go backwards. Recession is a mindset that simply holds you back. Imagine if governments could let go of the old ways and move on…
There are stand-out brands that have been around for over 20 years, such as Nike, Virgin and Apple, and these are the brands that have continued to evolve and adapt to the times as the years roll by and are now fully embracing the new age that we live in. Today provides you with a communication platform which, for brand building, offers a multi-dimensional platform so you no longer have to rely on using a single communication process. Look at what has happened over the last 10 years in the world.
Do you wonder where we will be in the next 10 years?
Move with the times now before someone else in your sector does…
Recently, the app revolution and mobile media have changed everything again. If you don’t move with the times your brand starts to lie dormant, and it could eventually die off.
However, this is not a lesson in social media or persistence, more a five-pronged approach to maximizing your brand and moving with the way of the world so that you are not left behind with the dinosaurs. As long as you are prepared to embrace change, move with the times and follow the solutions laid out in this book you will keep your brand moving towards success and lead the way rather than following the crowd.
DOT 05: I AM SCARED OF STRETCHING INTO THE UNKNOWN AND AM ALWAYS WAITING FOR THE PERFECT TIME TO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN
– REFRESH —
This is the most common mistake that I hear time and time again – fear of the unknown. How do you feel when you need to move house, fearful yet excited? When you had to change schools, fearful yet excited? Similar feelings rise up time and time again; just because you are an adult they don’t go away. What may be worth considering now is that if you face the fear head on there will always be something amazing waiting for you on the other side. The unknown does not really exist, the stories you make up about the unknown do. Why not just invent better stories about how amazing it will be when you do X, Y and Z in that unknown space! You know what to do, you always have done. You just need to take that leap of faith into the beautiful unknown – each time asking yourself “what is the worst outcome that could possibly happen?” and trust me, it is never as bad as your monkey mind makes it out to be.
My own agency went through a huge change a few years ago when I realized that print media and PR alone were not the way forwards within our industry – I had to take a leap of faith and employ people to run a digital and celebrity/events division without really having knowledge of where the markets were heading. We did it anyway and it quickly paid off; we were in a position to turn even more brands into stand-out big brands by being able to create a 360° communications programme when other agencies were still looking to traditional PR as the only way forwards. Thank goodness we took that leap into the unknown…
Instead of standing still and thinking small, there’s now a need to engage with a new way of thinking. This means taking small steps rather than no steps, leading to big strides forward due to the high impact of what can be done in today’s brand-building world.
DOT 06: I KNOW BEST AS I HAVE BEEN DOING THIS FOR YEARS
– REFRESH —
This one makes me laugh the most, as people pay thousands of pounds for a PR, marketing or branding agency and then don’t want to change/refresh anything in order to improve their status quo. I cannot tell you the number of brands that have come through my door, asked for help and yet when I give them what they need they don’t want to listen.
I have a very good friend who has worked alongside different brands for a number of years -- he was the owner and founder of a very famous footwear store. He once wrote a marketing strategy for a very well-known footwear brand that was lying dormant and in need of help to move the brand forwards. They chose to ignore everything that he suggested doing to turn their brand around. A number of years later he was called in again to chat with the new owners of the same footwear business that had picked up the brand which was still lying dormant. He presented a marketing strategy to the new owners who loved everything that he had written. When the meeting came to a close he laughed and turned over the strategy and there was the date from five years previously when he had presented the exact same strategy at the last meeting!
Are you spending money in the wrong areas?
Brands that don’t refresh their business think that they need to throw more money at the situation to make it work. The problem is that they could be throwing money at the wrong areas, for instance employing a team of people to help them grow and not listening to the advice they have paid for (crazy).
They could seem to remain set in their ways, fearful of change and not bold enough to invest money in alternative areas that are new to them. Sticking with old methods is common, yet we see that the old methods are not working today.
Rather than embracing change, they could repeat the same mistakes over and over again and although they are ahead of their game at the moment, they may begrudgingly wonder why smaller brands with much less budget are driven to succeed where they are failing. Instead of jumping into massive advertising budgets, what about getting creative and producing an experience that could be filmed and written about in a press release with images attached. This can then be sent in to journalists, thus grabbing the attention of different media publications and online titles which will generate the desired reach that you are looking for from an advert yet in a more targeted and impactful way. This is a great way of speaking to your target audience or even helping you to reach out to a new one.
Embrace the new age and always challenge your brand. Take it to new heights that you never thought were possible and set goals which, conventionally, are unachievable whilst pushing your boundaries to reap the rewards for efforts made. Open your mind, reach for the impossible, set it as clear as day and know that no idea is too big – providing you create the necessary steps to get there.
My agency has spent the last 15 years working alongside brands and seen many different types of obstacle appear. We have worked together with them to overcome all types of challenge presented and create effective forms of communication to engage with the customer and bypass the obstacles. One of the most noticeable challenges presented to brands over the years is creating ways for a brand to evolve and continue to engage with their customer by using the different forms of communication tools and platforms available. In an ever-more saturated market a brand needs to stay ahead of the game to create loyalty and a desired following. The need to produce sales, deliver engaging conversations with a community and ultimately either turn their brand into (or maintain a position as) a market leader in the world now has multiple options and solutions.
You are probably aware of the fact that most of these obstacles lie mainly in your head. You built them up. Imagine how good it will feel when you knock them down. What is the ultimate thing that is going to stop you from achieving stand-out brand status? Your own monkey mind; if you can shut the monkey up that drives you mad in your head and know that you are part of that elite 10% of the population that believes you can achieve, then achieve you will.
Commitment and determination are the second ingredient, and a great product/service is the third. However, if you have a great product/service and still do not know who you are targeting, the chances of getting off the starting block are small. If you can commit to achieve and succeed, trust that everything else will take care of itself.
Imagine how big your brand will be when you implement the changes I am going to suggest, or imagine what will happen to your brand in the event of you doing nothing more than what you are doing today and have done every day since the birth of your brand. The worst-case scenario, if you are honest with yourself, is standing still. And to stand still in today’s fast-paced business climate is to move backwards relative to everyone else.
Excerpted with permission of the publisher, Wiley, from Brand Famous: How to get everyone talking about your business by Linzi Boyd. Copyright (c) 2014 by Linzi Boyd. All rights reserved. This book is available at all bookstores and online booksellers.
Originally published Oct 22, 2014 8:00:32 AM, updated December 03 2014