Entrepreneurs face an onslaught of challenges from day one that will leave even the most achievement-oriented person with crossed eyes and a headache. Success really comes down to a founder’s ability to convert an idea into a product that delivers a sustainable value.
Why? Because what is important and relevant today will be obsolete tomorrow. The key to creating a memorable brand is to sustain it. That is, a savvy entrepreneur isn’t going to discover the holy grail of her industry only to “spike the mic,” take a step back, and give up everything she worked for. Instead, successful entrepreneurs -- the ones who leave a legacy -- create products that morph with change and therefore maintain their relevance over time.
This isn’t easy, and doing so isn’t based on the product’s material, how many terabytes it has, or how impermeable its weather coating is. Smart entrepreneurs know they must focus on the factors that will remain timeless today, tomorrow and 30 years from now. What I’m talking about is the human side of business.
As an entrepreneur, you only have one shot to make a first impression, so here are four things to consider when building a memorable brand:
1. Relative advantage. The degree to which your product appears more valuable than others based on its first impression is your product’s relative advantage. In the military, our relative advantage was the capabilities we employed to reach out and touch people across the sea, air and land -- a value differentiator amongst special operations forces. Most importantly, though, was the value that this diversity offered a senior leader (i.e. customer) who decided to employ us: it gave him options.
2. Adaptability. Being scalable also means being adaptable; it means maintaining the size and scope of a large company while operating with the agility and speed of a small team. The perception we created during missions was that of a much larger force, but in actuality our numbers were quite small, which meant that we were still nimble enough to change direction at the drop of a pin (get it?). Adaptability also prolonged the impetus to say “no” since we could stop on a dime, whereas other forces lacked such agility.
3. Fit. Personality and product value, character and competence all contribute towards finding the right “fit,” not just for the customer but the entire value chain, too. Clients like doing business with people that they like, trust and share similar beliefs and work ethics. The likability factor is huge because that’s how relationships are formed, networks arise and real business gets done. The products or services your company offers must not only be right for the intended audience but also resonate with each stop along the way in the value chain.
4. Outcome. Does your product deliver the results it claims to, or is it time to move on to Plan B? Any deviance from expectation or outcome yields a scornful eye from the customer, not to mention an erosion of trust. If you want your brand to be memorable, make it standard practice to not just live up to expectations, but exceed them. Anybody can follow the rules and be mediocre, but the brands that leave a legacy do so because they continually write their own rule books and strive to become better.
The decision for any customer to choose amongst brands ultimately comes down to, “Who can I trust to get the job done efficiently and effectively?” Humans are emotional creatures. If you want your brand to be memorable, make sure it plays to our nature.