“This is why I love her!!! Beautiful advice!!!! “I love Super Soul Sunday.” “I want a bracelet that says WWOD…as in What Would Oprah Do.” “She has her life together.” “I don’t think for a moment Apple will make bad products.” “My iPhone has never failed me.” “I do like Apple products. They’re sleek, functional, and well made…” All these comments are pretty positive. Actually, they’re incredibly positive. It’s safe to say these are raving fans.
How would it feel to have your customers or clients talked like this about your business? What would that do for your business brand? Your bottom line? One of my favorite quotes, comes from Amazon’s founder, chairman Jeff Bezos. Jeff says, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Think about that. Now, marinate on it. Do you know what others are saying about you, your products, your services when you’re not around? Are they saying anything? (That can be just as problematic as a negative comment) The comments above came from big fans of Oprah and Apple, two mega-brands to be sure. Still, there are lessons that small business owners, can take from these brands to make their own brands are pretty phenomenal. Let’s examine a few of them:
- Produce a quality product from the beginning. I’ve been a fan of Oprah over 25 years. I was drawn to her when she hosted her award-winning tv talk show. I’m not alone. Many Oprah’s fans fell in love with her from the beginning. Her brand has represented for the longest: that you can learn from your mistakes, positivity, with gratitude, and live your best life. From her show to her magazine to the OWN network, Oprah has delivered stellar products. Sure there have been a few bumps along the way (it took her a little while to find her footing with the network), but nothing major. The brand had been solid for so long before the network, that fans were pretty forgiving. If you deliver a crappy product or service from the beginning, it’s going to be difficult to translate that into an awesome brand.
- Don’t settle for average. Few people, even those who are not totally obsessed with Apple products, associate Apple with anything average. Apple makes extraordinary products that do extraordinary things, and makes their customers feel extraordinary while using them, and they have extraordinary advertising campaigns. Yep, I think that about sums it up. Average is certainly easier than extraordinary. So many entrepreneurs say they want an extraordinary brand, but then don’t come close to taking extraordinary action. Saying sorry doesn’t work well in business.
- Keep the main thing the main thing. This is not rocket science. Focus does matter. Some business owners are multi-faceted, multi-passionate, or multi-skilled. Maybe you are just too brilliant and cannot be put into a small box. Find an outlet for your other interests. Keep your brand and business clear and focused. Determine what you most want to be known for and don’t lose track of that. Oprah’s media empire, i.e. television, magazine, book club, movies, internet, satellite radio supports and reflects her brand. There is no confusion. Oprah’s brand permeates all her content. It’s hard not to talk about that whether she’s in the room or not.
- Never stop innovating. Underestimating innovation is kind of like underestimating marketing. Whether quickly or over time, both can sink a business and brand like the Titanic (and we know that wasn’t just any sinking). Apple was ranked the world’s most innovative company in late 2015 by the Boston Consulting Group. The company Steve Jobs co-founded has ranked high on other noteworthy lists. Some of that has been based on a great deal of research, surveying hundreds of senior executives, complex methodology, etc. Ultimately the opinions that matter the most: Apple customers. I don’t know any Apple fans (along with some Apple haters) who don’t believe it’s one of, if not the most innovative company out there. Like it’s ideal customers, Apple is a risk taker and is all about the “think different” culture.
Making it your mission to be different, in a really cool and effective way is an excellent strategy to build a legacy brand. This will also enable you to become the center of conversation, and that good will can spread like wildfire. Of course you can always settle for people having absolutely nothing to say about your brand. That’s safe right? But not remarkable. Be unforgettable. Be spectacular. Stay innovative. If you want to not just run a business, but leave your mark on the world, think differently about how doing business with your company makes people feel. They you’ll have customers for life.
About the author
Rachel Wilson Thibodeaux is CEO of SWAG Strategy. Her company is committed to helping visionary women entrepreneurs, small businesses, and “sidepreneurs” get more clear, more strategic, and more profitable. She offers business coaching, consulting, speaking, and content marketing.