By Accident Or Design?
The Role Of The Brand In Your Business Success
Back in the days when Kevin Costner was a coming force in Hollywood, he made the film Field of Dreams in which he played Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella, a driven individual who is inspired to build a baseball field on his farm when he hears a voice in his corn field tell him, “If you build it, he will come.”
Much like Costner today, who seems to build movies to which nobody comes, many of us are to be found building our businesses in the hope that when we do, “they” will somehow come and we will enjoy a happy ending worthy of Hollywood. And when they don’t, we’re often confused and angry because not only Hollywood, but the business press too, peddles us the dream that hard work always pays off and, in the end, despite some hardship along the way, the hard-working businessman lives happily ever after.
But real life isn’t quite like that. The average customer is typically spoilt for choice and is surrounded by vendors busily vying for his or her attention. There are countless businesses building out there and it is foolish to expect that the customer will somehow come to all of them. Those that do succeed are those that influence customer choice: the choice to invest time, attention, resources and, ultimately, money in one business offer over another.
By Design Rather Than By Accident
So we cannot afford to simply build it and hope that they will come. As ambitious professionals, we must build our business success by design rather than by accident.
If we are to build, what then must we design into our business in order to have our customers come and make us their choice? What are the building blocks for our success?
First, we must recognise that we are in the business of influencing choice. This is the job of our brand. At Islandbridge, we understand brand to be the relationship that is built between a business and its customer to influence choice.
In order to build that relationship, we must be clear about what it is we do, how we do it and why that makes sense both for us and for our customer. Typically, in a competitive environment it is the ‘how we do it’ rather than the ‘what we do’ that makes a real difference to our customers. The regulations and standards that are part and parcel of professional services in the modern world do not provide too many opportunities to gain competitive advantage. We all arrive at the starting line kitted out with the same qualifications and playing to the same rules.
We must then act on the recognition that we are in a competitive environment and compete. We must take the ‘how we do things differently’ to our market and begin to build relationships so that we can influence choice. For each business, that route to market is different and can include building relationships through activities such as networking, PR, direct mail and prompted word-of-mouth.
But one thing is certain: we must not simply build it and hope that they will come. Sometimes, they will but more often, they will not. And like our former golden boy, we may find our own field of dreams shattered.