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SW's JOURNAL

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DAVID v GOLIATH: BUILDING BRAND PILLARS

Samantha Wills

The horizontal block is your business, while the vertical blocks are the different touch points which make up your brand. You really need to invest in all of them, because having just one strong area makes your business vulnerable. When something goes wrong (as it always does in business), having strong pillars means you will have enough support that it won't bring the whole operation to a stand still, or worse, force you to close the doors completely.  (Sorry, this sketch looks like it was done by a 3 year old. I wouldn't say drawing is my forte....) 

The horizontal block is your business, while the vertical blocks are the different touch points which make up your brand. You really need to invest in all of them, because having just one strong area makes your business vulnerable. When something goes wrong (as it always does in business), having strong pillars means you will have enough support that it won't bring the whole operation to a stand still, or worse, force you to close the doors completely. 

(Sorry, this sketch looks like it was done by a 3 year old. I wouldn't say drawing is my forte....) 


Q. What do you do when there is someone SO big (in your direct industry/’competition’), you feel you just can't compete? 

I was emailed this question recently, from an entrepreneur that has been in business almost a year.

This is a fear, intimidation, motivation & question, that most new business owners will ask themselves and one which I think is a healthy perspective. If you don’t have any fear in your new venture, you are not aiming high enough.

Here are my thoughts….

It is a blessing to have someone in your industry that is bigger & better than you. It makes you strive much stronger in every element of your business. A ‘this will do’ attitude will not cut it, when your customers are spoilt for choice.

There are rarely cases (I can’t think of any) where there is a product or service that consumers have only one, single choice of, meaning that we live in a saturated world of options. Assuming your products are the same (or similar) as mine, the below is how I think people make decisions to purchase.

REASONS FOR BUYING:

1.    PRICE: The obvious one is price. Early to mid 20’s me, was very priced focused (because I had no mula!), but as I got older and progressed through my career, I started purchasing for different reasons... So my first advice is knowing who your customer is, and what they are driven by. It is perfectly OK if they are driven by price. It just means you will need to tailor your business to this (if this is the avenue you wish to drive your brand).

2.    SERVICE + CONVENIENCE: Speed of delivery, ease of returns, store location, friendliness of staff, packaging, after sales service etc. Say you have two products exactly the same, at exactly the same price – you will more than likely go to the one where the business best serves you. I think this element in business is non-negotiable. You should be doing absolutely everything in your power to woo your customers. And it usually comes at no cost to do so.

3.    BRAND LOYALTY: A brand is made up of so many touch points. Product, packaging, point of sale, campaign, marketing, social media, voice, customer service, team, quality, communication, feedback, retail presence, media presence, colabs, innovation, design, brand story…. And the list goes on & on & on. I am often asked, ‘are you worried about so-and-so copying this?’ Or ‘did you see so-and-so? they are now designing jewellery.’ A brand cannot be replicated on one element alone. If every single touch point of your brand is a pillar that creates your business, make every single pillar so strong, that if a competitor replicates or surpasses one of your pillars the business doesn’t fall. The stronger each pillar, the stronger the business.

Brand loyalty is the strongest currency. So know your brand, invest in (that doesn’t mean money!) all elements of it. Note that during the start up phase, you will have neither time nor finances to develop strong pillars across all touch points, so there will be downfalls. In this instance, ENSURE your customer service is ABOVE & BEYOND. People are forgiving of your mistakes if you do whatever you can to rectify the problem, and ensure to retain them as customers. When you have been in business a little while, (read: once you have your shit together), these are the consumers who usually end up being the most loyal. They feel as though they have been with you from the start (because they have).

So to summarize the answer to the question: What do you do when there is someone SO big (in your direct industry/’competition’), you feel you just can't compete? 

Remain true to what you set out to do.

Use the company you are worried about as inspiration, not intimidation. (I love the saying: Work so hard that your idols become your rivals)

Spare no energy on your customer service. Go beyond ‘above & beyond’. (This also acts as free advertising, as people start to tell their friends how effing amazing you are, because of your incomparable service!)

Continually invest in all pillars of your brand. Building strength across all pillars builds a strong foundation for your business.

There were a few companies I admired (strived to be like) in my industry when I fist started out. Some are now key competitors, while some are no longer in business. Be aware of what others are doing, but focus on your own shit. Trust me. – SWx