Strengthen YOUR Organization’s Brand in YOUR Community

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 16, Issue No. 5b
September 15, 2017

By Dan Coughlin

A strong brand attracts customers to you and makes the sales process much easier. A strong brand is a crucially important factor in generating sustainable, profitable growth. No organization owns its brand. The brand exists outside of the organization and inside the minds of customers and potential customers. The best you can do is to strengthen your brand in your community.

First, I’m going to give you three definitions, and then I’m going to give you five brand-builders.

Three Definitions

A brand is the value customers think they receive when they buy from an organization. A brand is also the value prospective customers think they will receive if they do buy from an organization.

Value is the improved outcome a person achieves when using a certain product, service, or experience. If the product, service, or experience you sell does not improve outcomes for your customers, then it has no value.

Your community consists of those people most likely to gain value from your organization. These are people who share some common desire that your organization can deliver.

The Five Brand-Builders

Brand-Builder #1: Clarify your Value

What improved outcomes do your customers achieve that they couldn’t achieve from your competitors?

That question has two essential parts to it. First, what improved outcome did your customers achieve because they used your product, service, or the experience you provided them? You need to know what that is so you can explain it to future potential customers. Second, how is that improved outcome better than what they can get from your competitors? If it’s not a better outcome for the customer, then why should your customers buy from you as opposed to your competitor? Are you faster, more reliable, easier to work with, more enjoyable to work with, more customized to that customer, more flexible, or cheaper?

You are trying to create a positive change for your customer. Something has to be improved for the customer that they can’t get anywhere else. What is that something?

Brand-Builder #2: Determine your Community

Describe the people who are most likely to gain value from your organization. Not their demographics, but rather their personal graphics. Describe their talents, passions, values, hopes, and dreams.

Take some time to think about this. Fill in these blanks:

My customers want _____ , and they don’t want _____ .

My customers are _____ , and they are not _____ .

If you invest thirty minutes in answering those statements over and over, you will have a clear idea of the community of people you want to attract to your business.

Brand-Builder #3: Define the Business You are In

Defining your business will help you to decide what to keep doing, what to stop doing, and what to start doing. This will help you generate sustainable, profitable growth in an intentional way.

Fill in the blanks below in a way that describes the value you have to offer and the community you want to serve.

We are in the business of _____ .      OR      We are in the ______ business.

For example,

Nike might answer this as, “We are in the business of providing innovation and inspiration to athletes around the world.”

Apple might answer this as, “We are in the business of creating great electronic devices that connect to the internet and empower people to do great work.”

I would answer this as, “I’m in the business of influencing business leaders to fulfill their purpose, achieve their goals, and build a meaningful career.”

How would you fill in the blanks for your organization? Then use your answer as the basis for what to do and what not to do in the future. This will help you strengthen your brand one decision at a time.

Brand-Builder #4: Build a Team that Strengthens your Brand

A team is a group of individuals who support one another toward fulfilling a meaningful purpose and achieving important outcomes. No one builds a brand by themselves. A brand is strengthened by a team, not by one person. Discuss with your employees the value your organization provides to customers, the community you want to serve, and how you define the business. Make it a collaborative discussion. Allow others to give input, discuss that input, and be open to the possibility of changing your mind if better ideas bubble up.

Brand-Builder #5: Remember You are in a Relationship Business

Every business is in a relationship business. A brand is built within the framework of the relationship between your organization and your customer. Strong relationships are based on empathy, collaboration, and trust.

The keys are empathy, collaboration, and trust.

Empathy means to work to understand what another person is going through, thinking, and feeling. This takes time to observe the person, listen to the person, and actually put yourself in his or her situation when you can.

Collaboration is exchanging ideas with the person and discussing ways to create value that is more pertinent to his or her situation.

Trust is built on doing what you said you would do.


Building a brand requires reflection, discussion, discernment, decision-making, and execution. It is an intentional effort. And it’s never guaranteed to succeed. You need to come back to it over and over and over again. But it is tremendously important to attracting customers, retaining customers, and generating sustainable, profitable growth.

Republishing Articles

My newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.

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