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Branding and Distinctiveness: Are You Telling Me It’s Okay to Ignore You?

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Be honest now. Are you (and your business) forgettable?

"You know what I like about you? You don't care what anyone thinks!"

That "compliment" came from my mother-in-law when she first saw the eggplant painted walls in my living room. It's true; we are not living our lives in a ready for resale home. My husband and I don't play it safe and squelch our creativity. We don't believe our lives were meant to be neutral statements.

Why tell you this? Frankly, I see crushing levels of mediocrity out here in Chicago's suburbia. When I get out and surf the web to check out some of your businesses, things don't look much better. So much creative inhibition in the lives and businesses of otherwise fine people! Just makes me want to scream, “For the love of God, people, please come alive! You are boring me to tears!”

Seriously! So please, let me take a moment to go all Tom Peters on you.

Let's talk about your brand presence. Yes, yours. Oh. I see. You aren't self-employed or working in marketing, so you don't think you need one? That's interesting. Good luck with that next time you go on a job interview. Understand you need one, but don't really have one? Yes, I know.

If you are a self-employed person or small business owner with a website, are you engaging me immediately in a compelling dialogue from the moment I find your site? Am I so clear on who you are, what makes you cool, and why I definitely want to have you in my universe that I can't help but reach out to you? Are you so clear on who you are that the whole concept of competition has become a meaningless and arcane concept?

If you don't get this, you are losing customers. A lot of customers.

Real Life Example: When I enrolled in coach training, I spent some time checking out coaching websites; many coaching websites. Even then, not having ever thought about business or branding (I was a therapist, after all), I found myself becoming bored and, in some cases, actually turned off by 98% of what I saw out there.

By the time I looked at the 40th site, I couldn't remember any specific coaches, save one. I contacted the only coach that caught my attention just to congratulate him on being memorable. Keep in mind that I was just surfing. I wasn't even looking to hire anyone. It hadn't even occurred to me to consider it.

The site engaged me, so it felt natural that I respond. This led to a reply and a suggestion that we talk live. I called. At the end of the hour, this coach asked me what I wanted to do. It wasn't until that minute that I knew I wanted to hire him, and I did.

Having a site that was compelling enough for me to want to know this individual when I didn't even know I was in the market for his services put about $4,000 in that man's pocket.

This illustration relates to my experience with a coach, but this phenomena is certainly not restricted to that industry. Regardless of the type of business you are in, go back and look at your company's website, even if you are just an employee. How do you rate your site on its ability to achieve similar results with your visitors?

And if you are unique this year, how will you keep from becoming a commodity next year?

Your business presence is just one manifestation of you (no matter what your position). Your physical environment is another. While I recognize it has been practical for many people to live in resale-ready homes due to frequent career moves, I also know that trends have changed and many are settling into their homes for a far longer time than had been in the last decade.

About Laura Young