Brand, Align, Influence and Position

Branding is so important in today’s business world, no matter what you do. Creating a brand explains who you are and what you do quickly to potential customers. Your brand is what you do, what you believe in and aspire to through your products and services for the benefit of your customers.

Your brand must find a way of encapsulating that. For this article, I am assuming that you already have some kind of branding, but should you want to know more about creating a brand, read through to the end and I will give some useful links and resources.

Having established your brand it is important to get it known and there are many ways to achieve that. Here I will concentrate on aligning your brand and influencing potential customers to deal with you as opposed to your competitors.

Aligning

Should you ever find yourself in the position of being able to align your brand with that of a Big Brand whose values you share – Jump at the chance!

I stress here that your values must be at least similar for any attempt at getting the kudos from a Big Brand rubbing off on you and your business will backfire.

Recently, I published a news release in Authority Press Wire about this very opportunity being offered to local businesses in the county of Cumbria UK following the inscribing of the Lake District National Park with World Heritage Status.

The Press Release link above tells how and why The National Park Authority and its partner organizations want to maximise the benefits of being either based in or around the National Park.

They want to encourage all businesses, large and small, communities, local clubs and sports centres, local councils, health centres and not for profit organizations to join in and let the “Brand rub off on them”.

They want to have eligible groups and businesses align with them for the benefit of all. They want to have eligible groups and businesses align with them for the benefit of all.

It’s a Case of One Influencing the Other

The new brand of The English Lakes World Heritage gives leverage to local businesses in marketing the “who they are”, and “what they do”. The aligning of any business brand to that of the World Heritage Site adds a conferred expertise and superiority over the competition to even the smallest business when used effectively.

Aligning a small business brand to the status of a World Heritage Brand helps smaller firms promote their own business alongside a ‘World Recognized’ brand.

When this happens, it tends to uplift the smaller brand when marketed properly.

Rarely do small local companies get the opportunity to link their brand in such a way and it is important to make sure that you market your alignment in a way that identifies you as a Leader or Expert at what you do.

But What About Me

Okay, you don’t live or work in the county of Cumbria UK, so you won’t be encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity in the same way local businesses and other local organisations can.

But before you dispel the idea, stop and think for a moment on how you might align with either a big brand or someone who you might consider to be an authority figure/expert in the same field of operations as you.

Alignment is not necessarily about being a user of, or supplier to the big brand products or services that you want to align yourself to. It’s fine if you are, but to get the widest benefit from broadcasting your alignment you need to think a bit deeper and more strategically.

Let us say for example that a management consultancy company wants to express its competency in perhaps, Quality Assurance.

If you were reading a page about this subject on their website and the company stated that…

Example 1:

“We are experts in quality assurance, we understand your issues”.

Or…

Example 2:

Top Management Guru Peter Drucker clearly states our main principal on quality,“Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it.” So, our starting point is to listen to you about your concerns…

Which carries more weight? Example 1 or Example 2?

I suspect you will agree with the second statement in Example 2.

The difference is that in example 1 it is the company telling the reader how good they are, whereas in example 2 there is an implied confirmation that they are good by using the third-party quote as opposed to the company telling you how good they are. The value of using a quote about your subject is that –

The use of the quote gives more substance and more influence on you and what you do.

What our imaginary company has done is take a well-known statement from an authority from the field they also work in and use the quote to align their company with that principal to which they subscribe, and in doing so have made a link between their company beliefs to that of the guru’s and vice versa.

It uses a process often referred to as “Influencer Marketing” originally used significantly on TV and in movies the process involved celebrities and/or known respected experts to openly voice support for a product or service. I’m sure you have seen many of them.

Consumers tend to align with the celebrity who uses the brand rather than the brand. It’s back to the old adage, that people prefer to deal with people rather than brands and it works, or they wouldn’t continue using this strategy.

The chances that you can afford an A List star to give you an endorsement is pretty remote – right?

Same here, but look at the way I took a quote from a Top Management and Quality Guru and adapted so I have the celebrity element as part of my message and how it reinforces and aligns the company’s principals or practices with those espoused by such an authority on the subject.

Adopting this kind of marketing can have significant benefits with increases in customer acquisition and profits.

The only difference between the National Park volunteering alignment and using a quote from a well-known guru to align with is that one is offered for use (with guidelines) to a select catchment area, and the other is “borrowed” for use and accredited.

Both imply a connection with principals and in doing so the larger brand “lends” some kudos to the borrower. But it must be done ethically, it’s no use aligning without synergy and a belief structure that supports it.

Credit for the quote/statement used is given to the author and it would be good to have a page called “resources” where credit is given to the author with a link to a book or article where the quote was taken from. It’s always good practice to ask if it’s alright to use the quote first if possible.

Positioning

You’ve got your brand, you’ve aligned it to something or someone important that reflects your own stance and you’ve brought in that influencing factor. Now it’s time to position yourself.

As far as the search engines are concerned when you do this you become viewed as holding more importance than those that don’t (your competitors) and that is really useful on the Internet, let me explain.

How “important” you are, is one of the factors that the search engines look for as part of their process of establishing page rank.

Search Engines seek to find out how important you and your brand is when seen against other brands, and aligning brands in this way ‘lends’ some more credibility or authority from the ‘Big Brand’ to that of the smaller business. The more importance you accrue the more attention search engines pay you.

The more attention they pay you, the better your chance of coming up high in search returns for your key words.

It’s just one factor out of many the search engines consider, and it’s not often such an alignment like the Lake District Project is afforded to small businesses. So, you must create your own in your own marketing.

Positioning relies on much more that this one instance of alignment, and it’s a continuous process to ensure you are seen across all the usual platforms with similar messages.

Methods of achieving this include:

  • Press and News Releases about you/your business
  • Magazine articles by you or a member of your team
  • How many times you have been interviewed on Online radio
  • Your Social Media such as Facebook and LinkedIn Profiles etc.
  • Articles you release on your own web pages
  • Books you have published or taken part in.

Work the process and it won’t be long before you begin to see results.

David Birchall
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David Birchall

Dave first brought the interest in Small Businesses to the Universities of Lancaster, Salford and Central Lancashire by creating workshops and selling them to the Universities with Development funding from UK Gov.

Was a Policy Adviser for Federation of Small Businesses on Education, Training and Business Development appearing on Government Select Committee Hearings for the FSB.

He is now working with the Lake District National Park Authority Business Task Force in helping to deliver inclusion and benefits from the newly formed English Lakes World Heritage project.

Enjoys holding sessions with owner managers on developing their branding and marketing methodologies for being noticed and winning customers.
David Birchall
Follow Me

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