What does your brand stand for...and what does it stand up for
When you started your business, I imagine it was probably a challenging, yet exhilarating experience. I bet it wasn't easy. If you have been fortunate enough to scale, that was probably difficult too. I also figure that when you started your brand that you believed that you had a totally new concept. You may have believed those 3:00 am BIG ideas were uniquely yours? In some ways, there is a nuance that's yours, however, the same forces in the universe that were nudging you, was probably influencing someone else.
Of course this doesn't mean that you should give up on your dream and I am certainly not suggesting that you rush to get your product to market before it's ready in order to beat the competition. What I am saying is, consumers have evolved. They expect brand experiences. They expect high value. They want to know about your passion, your mission and equally as important, they want to know about your brand's values.
Bringing your brand out-front is not about who can get there first, it's about who can do it the best AND sustain excellence. In today's world, the best is the brand who stands in their own WHY and uses their mission to attract their target market who stands up for the same things.
You and I both know that consumers have more power and choice that every before. They are smarter and more informed as they have access to all the information about a brand is at their fingertips. Customers also want to know how you will impact their lives. Do you understand their needs? Do you take time to get to know them and build a relationship with them.
Consumer relationships with brands are no longer transactional. They crave a mutually-beneficial two-way relationships that communicates and share experiences with each other.
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So, you have this brilliant plan and you're ready to launch or perhaps you are an existing brand and need to rejuvenate? Either way, you must figure out how to get the attention of your Ideal Buyers in a meaningful way. You understand that you need a competitive advantage. How do you get it? Where do you start? What does that even mean?
Competitive advantages are the factors that allow your brand to attract better buyers, generate more sales or either superior margins compared to your market rivals. Perhaps you have product distinction or service differentiation or niche specific strategies. There are 6 factors of competitive advantage:
The first thing to do is to position yourself as your customers obvious choice. How do you do that? Start with understanding what your customers need? What do they desire? How do they want to feel? What experience are they expecting?
Your goal is to have a genuine and insightful connection to your idea and to the problem you are solving, in a way that adds value and leaves a positive experience with your Ideal Buyer - the person who is most likely going to be excited about your offer and who are most going to be excited about serving.
Note: 6 areas to help you drive a competitive advantage:
- Customer Experience
- Human Resources
6. Information technology is also changing the way brand's operate. It changes the entire process by which companies create their product lines. Information is actually changing the product itself; the entire physical goods packing as well as creating added value through services.
The value that your brand creates is measured by the number of buyers who are willing to accept and pay for your offers.
Technology, including the digital world has given consumers never-before access into a brand's history, culture and leadership. Platforms liked LinkedIn can get us a glimpse of the C-suites credentials. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram give a further view into the personalities and personal life of the bosses. As consumers get to know the brands they follow, it becomes easier to identify brands that resonate with them as well as brands who do not stand on the same principles.
For example, the big box brand JoAnn Stores had key-holders to file a law suit for violation of California labor laws. They also have reviews on Indeed from actual employees who rate the corporation at a steady three. If employee culture and work ethic is important to you this information would be important to you in order for you to support a brand.
However, if your customers are socially conscious and also support women's issues, then a company who has policies that impede on women's rights may be problematic. As with the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case that allows the founders to use their "civil liberties" as a reason to deny women the right to use their insurance to pay for birth control, may impact who remains loyal.
If women, are your target market as in this instance, you can see how both organization's policies further define their core customer, based on a shared value system. In the case of Hobby Lobby, they are drilling down to attract people who share their religious views as well as repelling people like me who believe it is not an employers business to determine if an insurance policy covers her family planning. Losing me and others as customers is the price Hobby Lobby is willing to pay in order to further their agenda.
For micro-businesses, small and large may not only claim they support positive social outcomes but they must further demonstrate the commitment with action. One action for some brands is to become a B Corp to declare publicly they are committed to something bigger than numbers.
Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. ... B Corps form a community of leaders and drive a global movement of people using business as a force for good.
Society’s most challenging problems cannot be solved by government and nonprofits alone. The B Corp community works toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high quality jobs with dignity and purpose. By harnessing the power of business, B Corps use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment.
B Corps form a community of leaders and drive a global movement of people using business as a force for good. The values and aspirations of the B Corp community are embedded in the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence.
Becoming a B Corp Makes Good Brand Sense:
If you are true to it, one option to demonstrate your pledge to become a socially conscious brand is to become a B Corp. This is an effective way to differentiate your brand from others in the market space. When you get certified by a global social good nonprofit B Lab, your brand is adopting their mission to make the world a better place through corporate social responsibility by creating a global community.
B Labs also provide alignment of business missions through it partnership with Benefit Corporation, and it helps B Corps measure their impact. Did you know there are 3,500+ corporations in 70 countries and in 130 industries.
B Corp certification is available to companies with at least six months of revenue. Depending on your certification, it costs between $500 and $25,000 annual revenue with mandatory bi-yearly reassessment to maintain status. Once you are a certified B-Corp, you will then be taxed as a LLC, C-Corp or S-Corp. You will taxed as the your company's entity structure.
The Best in the World:
"Every year, B Lab recognizes the top-performing B Corps creating the greatest impact through their businesses. Honorees are recognized for having the highest environmental, community, customer, worker and overall impact by earning a score in the top 10% on the B Impact Assessment, as well as a list recognizing B Corps with the greatest impact improvement (the change-makers). These businesses are proving that competing not only to be best in the world but best for the world is a winning strategy, and they can lead the way as mainstream businesses join our movement." Here is a list of the 2019 Honorees.
If you would like to find and support brands who stand for something more, something bigger, something amazing, search the B Corp Directory here by keyword, location or industry - there are probably companies in your area. In fact, here is an article from Business Insider's REVIEWS, B Corps are businesses committed to using their profit for good - the 14 make products we love.
Why Should You Consider B Corp Certification:
Successfully moving through to earn the B Corp seal of approval affords you the privilege of joining a club of brands that work together to achieve social good.
Certifying as a B Corp...
What If I am Not Ready for B Corp Certification:
Becoming a B Corp is not the only way to demonstrate your brand's commitment to being socially responsible. There are other ways to demonstrate your brand promise.
You can easily demonstrate your belief in social responsibility by creating a volunteer program. This move shows prospective employees that you have a value-add in order for them to fulfill their personal commitment to be socially responsible. A well-organized volunteer program will make room for your team to make positive contributions to society.
This gesture will gain employee buy-in, increase loyalty and maximize retention as employees are more fulfilled.
Many brands donate a portion of their profit, typically 10% to charity. The contributions are a brand's way to demonstrate their commitment to community, causes or social impact.
Today's brands are operating in a globalized world. The amount of opportunity to expand is wondrous. However, this also means that you are competing with brands outside of your local community. You are vying for the attention of your Ideal Buyer and so are brands from China, Mexico and other places in the U.S. and Canada.
Local bodegas who once cornered the market on their blocks, now must compete with grocers who deliver and monthly wine clubs who conveniently ship spirits directly to your home or office.
Brands now must compete with major global corporations what may deliver similar products, at larger scale, and lower price-point. These savings help larger corporations leverage resources to attract and recruit high-performing and highly-skilled talent.
Many businesses have good intentions to create a socially responsible brand. Many of those brands lose focus and fall off track. This falloff doesn't mean they lack care, it generally means there are other priorities taking center stage.
You too can create a brand that is closely tied with giving back. You too can create long-term initiatives that expose the soul of your brand. A values-driven business model will not only make you feel good, but it will also build loyalty and retention for your employees, stakeholders and customers.
5 Ways to Get and Stay on Track to Developing a Socially Conscious Brand
Be socially conscious is highly beneficial to increase brand equity. Your contributions will lend positively to society and to the value of your business. You can make a difference in the world while increasing brand awareness as well as your bottomline.
Think about ways that your brand can become socially conscious. If you have thought about ways of giving back to your community or leaving your mark on the world, I'd love to hear about it.