Guide your brand to sustainable success in 2013

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In a recent CNBC show called Keeping America Great featuring two American icons, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, a college student asked Gates something like this: “Considering your level of success, what do you attribute to just sheer luck?”

Gates answered that first it was being born in America and second, being born at this particular time in the world’s evolution. Never before have we had such a level of speed, mass communication, mobility, convenience, research and technology at our fingertips to further our own evolution.

The show begs the question: “Do you know where your brand is going?” Also: “How will you and your stakeholders prepare to get there?”

We offer three strategies to prepare your brand for sustainable evolution. By no means are these strategies the only ones to action, but they will help jump-start you to take full advantage of the context of your environment and drive the direction your brand is going.

Strategy #1 — Get clear on the capacity and impact technology has and will be having in your industry.

Everything is changing. Whether it is how you build your product, buy parts, sell parts, invent, service customers, deal with vendors, or promote your business — it is changing, either incrementally or in very obvious ways.

Start studying these changes and begin to forecast how they will affect your processes, your customers, your employees and your bottom line. Form a task team that can analyze this information and begin planning scenarios.

How will your brand communicate value to your customer base? Consider the social media tidal wave and how you can maximize this technology.

Will your brand create more differentiation with new technology? If so, when, how and where?

Strategy #2 — Assess how your brand’s human capital can be leveraged to innovate.

Highly successful brands believe their people are their greatest assets. Do you have the right people in place? Not just from a skill level, but a mental and emotional level? Are they engaged? Are they strategic in their thinking? Do they understand and embody your brand in everything they do? Do they represent the future of your brand?

Gaining competitive advantage in your market is not just about technology or a great product. It is perceptually weighted from the experience your customers have with your employees. Do you have employees holding back success of the business? These are critical questions to ask when evaluating your brand’s human capital and its ability to fuel your growth objectives.

Strategy #3 — Commit to walk your brand’s marketing talk.

In our ever-evolving global communication environment, brands have to be more conscious of the dialogue occurring both on an internal and external level. Social media commentary, online reviews, ratings and chat rooms, etc., create an instantaneous ecosystem of information about brands and customer experiences.

Have you been lured into a store or restaurant because of a compelling marketing message or coupon, and then sorely disappointed because your expectations were not close to being fulfilled? Do you go back? Of course not, with 50 other choices less than a mile away. But I bet you tell a friend or two, or three (or Twitter, or Foursquare) about your disappointing experience.

Your customers are increasingly educated and highly particular with how, when, and where they spend their dollars. As an emerging, growing brand, you must take the time to assess your external marketing messages and ensure they are congruent with the actions and behaviors of your brand.

Identify it. Define it. Live it. Profit.

The bottom-line point is to turn inward, assess who you really are as a brand, dig deep and uncover your genetic code to competitive advantage — your Brand DNA (Dimensional Nucleic Assets®). Allow you and your employees to get creative, have fun and action it! Walk your brand talk. Then you’ll know where your brand is going in 2013 and beyond!

Suzanne Tulien is principal and co-founder of Brand Ascension Group, LLC, in Colorado Springs. She is co-pioneer of the Brand DNA methodology and author of The 6 Myths of Small Business Branding, and co-author of Brand DNA: Uncover Your Organization’s Genetic Code for Competitive Advantage. Reach her at www.BrandAscension.com.