You Are Failing To Scale Because Your Brand Fundamentals Are Weak
You think you’re ready for exponential growth. But you’re not scaling. The reason? The same reason most founders overlook. Your brand fundamentals are weak.
The steps you rushed by or ignored as you started your business are now taking their toll. No one will blame you for that. There were so many things to do when you were trying your darndest to launch your startup. Some things got brushed over, and it was fine at the time.
But what happens over time? It’s like having a weak foundation for a house. Everything looks fine, but slowly things start sinking and sagging. It is the same for your company.
What happens when your brand isn’t solid and isn’t firing on all cylinders? Bad things. Stagnation for one. As founders, we HATE stagnation. That is the worst, and it has catastrophic effects.
Before getting too far, what are some of the crucial elements that make up a company’s brand foundation? Here are some of the core pillars.
Those pillars affect everything else when any elements are even a bit off. If your brand fundamentals are off, then so will what you say (your core messaging), who you say it to (your target audience), where you say it (what media platforms you use) and how you say it (your tone of voice).
And that’s why customers aren’t biting, and investors pass you by. If you’re going to build a sustainable, scalable business, you need a strong foundation based on essential brand principles. It’s not too late to revisit and strengthen your foundations.
In this blog post, we dive into why your brand is holding you back from scaling successfully – and what you can do about it. Read on for expert tips and advice.
What’s the Connection?
Many business owners don’t realize that a strong brand and scaling go hand in hand because they fail to understand that their brand is much more than just the company’s name, logo, and colours.
While these things are PART of your brand, it is only a tiny part of your overall brand. In fact, those outward expressions are commonly known as brand identity or visual identity.
So how is brand different from brand identity? Starting with a definition of a brand is helpful. One of the best definitions comes from Marty Neumeier, a brand master. He defines brand as:
“A customer’s perception of a product, service or company.”
That perception happens in the mind of your ideal customer. It is not what you tell them; it is what they believe to be true.
What do these things have to do with your business scaling up, you ask? The answer is simple. You can’t gain a loyal customer base without a solid brand, so you can’t scale. Without a strong brand foundation, you are bound to fail to engage effectively with the minds of your target market and stand out from the crowd. This prevents you from getting the kind of growth that would allow you to scale.
Reviewing Your Brand Fundamentals
When businesses fail to scale, they usually have cracks in their brand’s foundations. If you want to see your business scale, you’ve got to address issues in four distinct but intrinsically related zones. Meaning improving one area will also strengthen the corresponding areas – IF you tackle them in order.
- The Customer Zone: Cracks exist here when you haven’t fully defined and don’t truly understand your ideal customer. Issues are exasperated when you aren’t 100% focused on solving ONE key problem for your ONE ideal customer segment.
- The Culture Zone: Problems arise here when your mission, vision, and values are not solely focused on your ideal customer. Most founders do not know the extreme importance of these three brand foundations. In their own way, they each give direction, provide focus and ensure alignment of ALL of your stakeholders
- The Competitive Zone: Issues exist here when you aren’t highly differentiated. You need to be focused on solving a crucial problem for your customer and being able to solve it better than your competitors.
- The Brand Identity Zone: Problems exist in this zone, when how you look, what you say and how you say it and even where you say it doesn’t stand out to your ideal customer. Nothing else matters if your core messages don’t resonate with your customer target. Your offering could solve a huge problem for a huge customer segment, but if your brand identity doesn’t cut through it doesn’t matter.
Bridging the Gaps
So, you now know how your brand’s fundamentals can influence your business potential to scale. You also know the four zones of weakness businesses typically have. How can you apply what you learned here to create conditions in which your business can scale? Let’s dive further into this.
- Identify Your Ideal Customer
Founders face scaling issues when they target multiple customer segments instead of focusing on just one. This happens for many reasons, but the results are always the same when choosing multiple customer types – spreading vital resources too thinly.
Of course we all want more customers, but targeting and satisfying a smaller segment of customers instead of trying to capture all of them makes scaling possible.
This is where identifying an ideal customer comes in. You will scale easily if you can answer The Big Two questions. What problem do you solve? Who do you solve it for?
That level of focus keeps your entire organization pointed in the right direction and allows you to make an impact on a specific customer group. If you can solve a crucial problem for that one group, that group will help you spread the word. This creates efficiencies. Efficiencies create scale.
- Create a Culture Around Your Ideal Customer
Most founders don’t know that a failure to identify an ideal customer creates a culture gap from the get-go. When your business is confused about the particular type of consumer it is serving; you will also fail to focus your company’s mission, vision and values to serve that customer.
Your goals and principles are an essential part of your brand as they dictate your company’s direction and resource allocation. You want to ensure the company culture aligns with your ideal customer, and you cannot do this if you target multiple customer segments – you get a watered-down culture. You can’t scale with watered-down culture.
You should revisit your vision, mission, and values, and redirect them toward your ideal customer.
- Establish ONE clear and valuable differentiator
When trying to scale, you want to make sure that you cover all your bases and this includes taking a close look at your competitors. Because they are offering a similar product or service like yours or are vying for the same market segment, it should come as no surprise that you share some similarities.
Naturally, this can take away from your potential sales. If your competitor’s offering is essentially interchangeable, you have one thing left to compete on – price. Competing on price is a quick race to the bottom. So find the ONE customer pain point you solve better than anyone else and hang your hat on that.
Now that you have created your ideal customer, you should build a brand that makes you the ideal choice or the only choice.
- Be Relevant and Relatable
Overall, you want your ideal customer to perceive your brand as something they value, can relate to and, in most cases, be inspired by. When you know who your ideal customer is, what they want, why they want it, and how they want it delivered, you do that.
In doing so, you capture not only your target market’s attention but also their minds and hearts. This is the key to conversion and having them tell others about you. Having a solid reputation and getting sales from word-of-mouth marketing makes scaling possible.
Scaling is one of the biggest goals of any business. You can build a bold, enduring brand that matters by concentrating on building solid brand fundamentals. Remember, bold brands scale, and you want to make sure that your brand is bold enough to stand out,