Is your brand killing your sales growth?

Is your brand killing your sales growth?

If your brand isn’t appealing, getting new customers becomes much more difficult.

There’s a straight-forward way to strengthen your brand so it becomes sales magnet.

What is a brand?

Gather 30 people in a room and ask them, “What is a brand?” You will likely get at least 30 different answers.

Some define a brand as simply as the logo, tag line and colors.

In fact, the brand includes everything involving contact with customers and prospects. This more accurate definition encompasses a diverse collection of elements including:

  • The style of marketing (illustration vs photography, funny vs serious, etc.).
  • What your website looks like and what content it provides.
  • The sales methodology (online, brick and mortar, face-to-face, telemarketing, etc.).
  • The positioning strategy (luxury, high-end, commodity, discount, etc.).
  • The way customer service is handled (email, online chat, phone, in person, etc.).
  • How the phone is answered—is the phone even an option?
  • Do employees dress up, dress down, wear uniforms?
  • The delivery method (in-store pick-up, direct shipping, hand delivery, etc.).
  • The packaging (generic, custom, sleek, bulky, etc.).
  • Is there a guarantee, lifetime warranty or other risk aversion offering?

While it’s true that all of these, and more, combine to describe your brand, the most critical component to building a successful brand that separates you from the competition is often given little to no consideration—the customer.

Without a customer, your business is just a hobby.

Customers buying your products and services are the lifeblood of your company. Without the revenue they provide, it’s impossible to survive very long. Even a non-profit or charity cannot exist without donors and benefactors.

This is an obvious statement, but what does it have to do with your brand? To achieve maximum success, your brand must clearly communicate that you offer something your customer wants.

Is everyone a customer?

There are very few, if any, offerings that everyone wants. Even something as universal as food has countless niches within this broad category. Unfortunately, many companies share a belief that everyone wants what they sell.

Let’s look at bread as an example. There are people who can’t eat bread due to wheat allergies and gluten intolerance. There are also those who choose not to eat bread as a result of following a Keto or other low-carb diet. There are even others who just don’t like certain types of bread because of the texture, taste or other reasons.

It would be a huge mistake for a bread manufacturer to market their bread to everyone.

Two ways to waste your marketing budget.

First, all marketing channels involve a cost in money and/or time. Spending finite resources to communicate with people who have no interest in your product certainly reduces the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, killing your return on investment (ROI).

The second problem with a “selling to everyone” approach is more subtle and even more dangerous than the first.

By watering down your brand message to communicate to everybody, you effectively reach nobody.

Even if there is something in your broad messaging that appeals to an individual, it is virtually invisible to them. In today’s environment of being bombarded with thousands of marketing and advertising appeals every day, people don’t have the time or interest to dig through everything to see if there is anything valuable to them buried within your content.

A better way.

Let’s stay with the bread example. If your company created a low-carb/no-carb bread product, they could build a brand targeting those who have given up bread for their adherence to a Keto or low-carb lifestyle.

Focusing your brand messaging to a narrower niche delivers five huge benefits:

  1. It maximizes the ability to effectively reach your ideal customer.
  2. It reduces the number of competitors.
  3. It allows you to cut through the clutter and speak specifically to your ideal customer.
  4. It increases what you can charge for your product.
  5. It increases brand loyalty because you “get who they are.”

1. Effectively Reach your ideal customer.

In the case of Keto and low-carb dieters, there are lots of social media groups and blogs, websites, magazines and nutrition professionals, dietitians and gurus that directly target them. These dieters seek out these sources to discover tasty alternatives to replace items they’ve stopped eating because they aren’t on their diet.

It also makes it easier to place higher in search engine results by focusing on the more specific topic.

2. Reduce the number of competitors.

There are a lot fewer companies offering low-carb bread. If they don’t offer it, they can’t compete.

3. Cut through the clutter.

Focussing your message specifically to Keto and low-carb dieters allows you to directly address their concerns in the headline, sub-head, content and call to action without any fluff or filler. They are looking for a solution and you’re giving it to them.

4. Charge more.

You now have a specialized product for a specific purpose instead of a generic commodity. It comes down to supply and demand. If there are few options for something the customer really wants, they are willing to pay what it costs to get it.

5. Increase brand loyalty.

Because you are providing a much wanted option that few are offering, it is easier to nurture a relationship with your customers. It’s inferred that you understand them better than companies that are apparently ignoring their concerns.

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Get your free customer avatar workbook

Who is your ideal customer?

Avatars, personas and customer profiles are a couple of current buzzwords for defining your ideal customer. They are created by combining a number of appropriate demographic and psychographic criteria. A partial list includes:


  • Age
  • Gender
  • Marital Status
  • Number of Children
  • Geographic Location
  • Preferred Language
  • Religious Beliefs
  • Profession
  • Job Title
  • Company Size
  • Income Level
  • Education Level


  • Adventurous
  • Shy
  • Leader
  • Follower
  • Risk Taker
  • Risk Averse
  • Nostalgic
  • Hip
  • Savvy
  • Nerdy

Not all will apply to every situation, but this will give you a starting place. You can hire a research firm to determine the avatar of your ideal customer, or you can do a lot of this yourself.

If you’ve been in business a while and have an existing customer base, it’s a bit easier. Simply reach out to your most valuable and most loyal customers and talk to them. Be sure to talk to enough customers to start seeing patterns in their profiles.

If you find it difficult to get them to take the time to talk, you can offer them a gift card or other reward for their time and feedback.

Don’t hand them a questionnaire. After all, several of the categories above can be personal, private and inappropriate to ask directly. You can find out a lot of information from their billing information, some online sleuthing and deductive reasoning in addition to your conversation.

For example, if they are a pharmaceutical sales representative, living in Miami, FL, you can look up income levels in that area online.

What do you talk about?

Focus your discussion around the following:

  • Why do they use your product?
  • How do they use your product?
  • How are they better off by using your product?
  • How long have they been using your product?
  • Did they use a different product before switching to yours?
  • Why did they switch?
  • What would they use if your product didn’t exist?
  • What do they like best about your product?
  • Is there anything they would change about your product?

Again this isn’t an exhaustive list, but it will get the ball moving. They will divulge a lot about who they are as they talk about the above topics.

See through their eyes.

Equally important, they will give you critical insight into what is important to your best customers and the language they use to describe the value you provide.

Listen carefully. They will give you the foundation of your brand message.

What if you don’t have any customers yet?

It can be a bit more challenging when you’re just starting out. You will need to find people who wants to solve a problem your product fixes.

You can look at customers of direct and indirect competitors. For example, if you are going to start a new service to compete with ride-sharing services, you would want to talk to Uber and Lyft customers.

You would also want to talk to those who need to get from point A to point B such as traditional taxi customers, people who drive a car, ride a motorcycle or bike and people who take mass transit.

It will likely take a larger group to get an accurate picture of your ideal customer that prefers your product over other choices.

Ideally you will be able to perform this exercise prior to anything being set in stone. Be prepared to get questions you never expected and hear comments you may not like.

You don’t necessarily need to implement every one-off suggestion, but you probably want to address issues that come up multiple times.

The good news is you will start from a much better position when you launch.

Tying it all together.

Once you know who your customer is, what they want and how they talk about it, you can engineer your product to deliver what they want. Now you can build your brand messaging around that ideal customer to clearly communicate who you are and what you provide to all the prospects that will become ideal customers too.

Once you have the right brand messaging, all the other elements that make up a brand, listed at the beginning of this article, will logically fall into place.

Get your free customer avatar workbook
Get your free customer avatar workbook

What if I have more than one type of customer?

If you have more than one customer profile that use your product in different ways for different reasons, you will need to create a brand message that speaks to each segment’s specific wants. If they are similar, the differences may be subtle, but meaningful. If their profiles are more diverse, they may require completely separate branding.

Many years ago, there was a highly-recommended storage box for art supplies sold at a popular art supply store. It was purple and lilac, made of hardened plastic, with a handle, a latching lid for access to a top tray and multiple drawers with inserts to customize the storage options. It had a clever name like “Art Master” beautifully stenciled on the front.

Their marketing directly addressed the unique requirements of art and drafting professionals in their language.

Having grown up fishing with my father, I noticed the box looked very much like a tackle box. I found the exact same box at a sporting goods store.

The marketing spoke to the unique needs of the serious fisherman in terms that matched the way they speak.

It had the same latched lid, same top tray, same customizable drawers and was the exact same size. They were both made by the same manufacturer. The only differences were that the tackle box was brown and tan and had a four digit model number instead of Art Master.

Oh yeah, the art box was also about twice the price of the tackle box.

Such is the power of branding!

I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts on the topic in the comments below. Feel free to include your experiences—good or bad—with branding in the comments as well.

Here’s to your success!

Phil Drake

P.S. If you are having difficulty cracking the mysteries of building a successful brand, I’d be happy to answer any questions.

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