At Distility we enjoy having our offices at the MaRS Centre. On top of the excellent location, there is an energy associated with being surrounded by innovative organizations which range from early stage start-up to established technology company (and every stage in between). The chatter in the halls also has a wide range, and a lot of the discussion is about lessons learned and planning to reduce risk as businesses grow.
A critical, but often overlooked, problem growing businesses face is the risk to brand equity — the value of the brand — as the business grows.
Axle Davids of Distility was recently quoted in the Financial Post about the challenges faced by Toronto chef Jamie Kennedy as he sought to grow his brand and expand his business. There are three key take-aways from that piece which apply to all growing brands.
1. Don’t lose the soul of your brand as you grow.
The problem faced by any brand is that it usually starts with an individual or a small group of individuals who are very passionate. This individual or small group are the soul of the brand. As you grow, your business will reach a critical point where there are more opportunities or decisions than that core group can make and new people will become part of the business team. When you reach the size that you are relying on new people, it is crucial to identify the top attributes of the brand and ensure they are maintained.
2. Your brand equity can be destroyed by bad customer experiences.
If you fail to ensure that the top attributes of your brand are maintained, there is a real and present danger that your brand will disappoint your customer. We all know brands that were great when they were small but have disappointed us as they grew. In the restaurant business, disappointing restaurant experiences can quickly destroy the equity built up over years of hard work. Once squandered, this equity is very hard to recapture. The same in true for other businesses.
3. As your brand grows it becomes more and more important to define your brand strategy
In brand strategy jargon, the top attributes of your brand can be distilled into your brand strategy. Your brand strategy is made up of:
- a brand promise that fulfills both your customers’ need and your team’s passion;
- a brand personality that allows your brand to stand out for its authentic differences; and
- a brand position which delineates the main reason your customer chooses your solution over the competition.
With a compelling and authentic brand promise, personality and position, you can then work to grow your business in a way that stays true to the soul of your brand and ensure your entire team (not just marketing but all aspects of operations) stays “on brand”.