Who are you?
Since you’re reading this column, I already know a little bit about who you could be…you are a water treatment professional, you either own or work for a water quality improvement dealership, and you care about doing your job better. Do you know who you really are? Do your customers know who you are and, more importantly, what you do? The act of developing an identity and reputation for yourself or your organization is known as branding. Business and personal branding are frequently overlooked factors critically necessary for business and career success, especially in today’s economy of austerity.
Branding incorporates direct and indirect activities that develop and maintain a reputation. Your brand isn’t just a company name, logo, website, or advertisement. A brand is what your customers, suppliers, investors, employees, business associates and the general public think, say, believe and champion about your company. It is truly your ‘corporate reputation.’ And because it is your public reputation, there are certain things that you can and cannot control.
A direct branding activity is one that you or your company intentionally designs, allowing you to control the message and how it is delivered. Examples of direct branding include your company name, logo, business philosophy, advertising campaigns, service trucks, website(s), press releases, corporate events, sponsorships and charitable giving.
An indirect branding activity is one where you usually have little to no control over the message and how it is delivered, received or shared. It is how people ’really experience‘ you and your company. Indirect activities range from the company’s daily business interactions to handling of customer service issues, and how these operations are perceived and understood by customers, employees and the marketplace. How your company communicates, compensates, relates to employees and customer service, and supplier relations all affect this perception. Everything a company does can form and alter your brand. Your brand is organic; it is constantly changing and evolving.
It is therefore critical to have a clear and concise message. This is an efficient way for your branding to remain consistent over time, expressed by all staff and implemented in all business operations. This message is the Business Philosophy Statement. With a business philosophy, a company’s actions can harmonize with the vision and values of management and employees.
This is not a time for cute slogans or corporate whitewashing; this is a time for sincere contemplation and reflection. Be honest with yourself and your audience. Balance detail and simplicity so that your message can be easily conveyed without being trite. Now is the time to create a vibrant and effective corporate culture that can be easily perpetuated.
Writing an effective Business Philosophy Statement is easy; it simply requires you to focus your energy on documenting the values that your business actually represents:
- Describe the purpose of your business.
- Describe the market the you serve
- Express the values that drive your business and how you serve your customers
- Outline the performance value and growth metrics that are necessary for success. For example, ’Provide our customers with clean, clear, safe water for their homes and businesses’.
Your personal philosophy statement is just as easy:
- Define your role within the business. How do you measure the importance of that role within the business structure? What is your objective within the role? What truly inspires you?
- Describe your definition of excellence and offer a vision for the future. Use approximately 25 words to inspire, motivate and define the overall philosophy and the way a business will function.
Creating a Business Philosophy Statement is merely the beginning of your branding adventure. Your next step is to believe it, live it and evangelize it to your company, employees and customers. Remember that great companies are built on good people who have passionate values. Establish long-term lasting relationships with your clients, relationships of trust where they know that they can rely on your skills and expertise to help make their lives better. They can trust you to treat them honestly, fairly and with the respect that they deserve. Practice what you preach.