Reveal Your Brand
By Duane LeVine
As a business owner, you are forced to embrace two distinct roles—dental artisan and small business proprietor. Unfortunately there is not much overlap between the two skill sets. While there are countless magazines, gurus, and websites dedicated to helping you enhance the artistic side of your product offering, there are relatively few dedicated to helping you enhance your bottom line.
This column is designed to help you grow your business by increasing your Business Intelligence Quotient. By increasing your B-IQ, you will be able to realize distinct, tactical advantages over your competitors. And with a little work, your business acumen will soon match your artistic aptitude.
Your Business Brand New
There is an old adage that says before you can plan a journey, you must first know where you are. How does that apply to you? Where you are can mean a lot of things, but for the purpose of this article, let’s say that where you are equates to the state of your brand.
You might be thinking Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and Google are all brands, how could my small business possibly need to be branded? The truth is every business is a brand. The question then becomes are you managing your brand, and what is it saying about you?
To determine the state of your brand, let’s hold a metaphorical mirror up to your business and see what it reveals. Please grab a piece of paper and answer the following seven questions.
1. What inspired you to become a lab owner? What motivates you when you wake up each morning?
This is your brand vision. Your brand vision should be strong and distinctive and should relate back to the core factor that drives you. While there may be an internal component to your vision, the main focus should be directed toward your clients and your finished product. It should be the ultimate destination for your business.
2. What can (and do) you do to achieve the goals stated in the previous question?
This is your brand mission. If your brand vision is the destination, then the mission is the roadmap you use to get there. Your business mission should be expressed in action statements that help you achieve your goals. These do not need to be one-time actions, but an ongoing set of actionable statements that can apply to almost every aspect of running your laboratory.
3. What feature, benefit, treatment, or service can your laboratory offer that the competition cannot?
This is your brand position. Your brand position defines your place in the dental restorative market. It is what makes your laboratory unique and sets you apart from your competition. The stronger the position you can stake out, the more reasons dentists have to select you over the competition.
4. What feature, benefit, or service can your competition offer that you cannot?
This is a potential brand weakness. It is "potential" because not all differentiation is bad. Your competition may be offering value restorations, whereas you like to focus on quality over quantity. Your brand weakness is simply something you should review frequently just to stay abreast of the competition.
5. How would you describe your business in a single sentence, using seven words or less?
This is your brand essence. Many people find it difficult to limit themselves to just seven words or less. But this helps you distill your focus and enables you to whittle your goals to what is most important. This sentence should be considered, at least in the back of your mind, each time you make a decision that impacts your business.
6. What is the overall impression you would like customers to have of your business?
This is your brand value. Do you want people to feel you are a cutting-edge laboratory that utilizes the latest technologies? Or do you focus on service, making the transactions as personal and comfortable as possible? There are no wrong answers—except for not having an answer.
7. Think of your business as a living, breathing individual. What are the attributes that best describe that person? List at least five.
This is your brand personality. A brand personality helps people relate to your business and develop a relationship with your laboratory, much the same way they develop relationships with other people. Not surprisingly, respect and trust are important components of your brand personality.
Whether you know it or not, you just performed a brand analysis of your business. At this point, it is important to reflect on everything you just wrote. Does it fit the vision you have for your business? Does it indicate a forward-thinking and progressive business? Are you comfortable with how your clients view your business? Do not worry if your brand comes up a little short. At this point, you are simply holding a mirror up to your business to see what you have. Not only will this exercise give you a good idea of where you are, but it will also give you a pretty solid idea of where you want to go... and how you plan to get there.
About the Author
Duane LeVine is president of Blakeslee, an advertising, marketing, and public relations firm located in Baltimore, Maryland. He also serves as chief strategist, chief operating officer, and key account lead for the firm, uniting the science of tactical business planning with the art of real world selling.