Why Knowing and Living Your Brand Matters

Your brand is critical to your business success. Especially in this challenging economic environment, your brand equity, in the minds of your customers, can keep them choosing your wash over the competitors in your area. So what is brand and why is it so important?

Brand is Perception

Brand is the perception of what your business is and what it represents to each and every individual that comes in contact with it. It is not a name, a product or an advertisement, as many might think. Brand is the concept in your customers’ minds that says what your business is to them. It could be “best quality wash in town”, “a clean, shiny car every time”, “a great wash deal”, “an inconsistent, often dirty car”, or … nothing at all. Obviously you want your brand to be considered in a positive way.

Developing Your Brand

Brands are developed with a clear differentiated message, over time, with consistency, and frequency. First, you need to define what makes your business different from your competitors. What do you want to be known for? It must be unique and it must be memorable for your customer. The more unique and visually impressionable it is, the more your customers will remember it. It needs to reflect your business alone and not an imitation of any other. It is difficult to take over a spot already occupied by your competitor. Choose your brand carefully and keep it focused.

Your brand should define the unique value you bring to your target market, and your target market should be defined broadly enough to sustain your business and yet not be all things to all people. To reach a wide demographic segment like age, you need to determine the unique value proposition that transcends age as a category. McDonalds for instance focused on delivering quality hamburgers quickly. The speed of delivery was a value that people of all ages could relate to. In other demographic areas, such as vegetarians or some ethnic groups, hamburgers as a food choice did not relate well. If McDonalds had broadened their scope to reach all these markets they would likely not have achieved the same level of success. They would have lost their focus.

You need to decide what it is that uniquely defines your business and just how broad your intended target can be. Perhaps it’s a fun place to get a car cleaned. If designed effectively that “fun” focus could appeal across a good range of demographics. Of course, some serious car enthusiasts might not respond to this brand positioning. However, continuing to focus on a fun wash and not trying to appeal to every serious car enthusiast could keep your brand strong and over time growing through word of mouth and good marketing. If you try to serve both markets your message could become confusing and ineffective.

Next comes frequency and consistency. To become implanted in your customers’ mind you must present your brand to them with everything you say and do. Your car wash must project your brand to your customers. For example, if your brand is “best quality wash in town” then everything in your wash must say that. That includes your signage, the clean appearance of your lot, how your customers are greeted, the effectiveness of your wash, the maintenance of your equipment, your wash chemicals, advertising, promotional programs, how you thank your customers and how you ask for their repeat business. If any of these elements is out of line or inconsistent from visit to visit then your brand will be inconsistent in your customers’ mind.

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