Michael Randazzo, Author, Tales of an American Entrepreneur
A mistake entrepreneurs make after years in business (twenty two in my case) is thinking that their brand is established but forget to nurture the core essential identity once it is defined. To avoid this, one of the most important things an entrepreneur can do is brand reinforcement. Your brand is your image, so practicing brand-image reinforcement serves both long term success, as well as the current bottom line.
I met recently with my manager to review the training of a new hire. We were discussing the employee’s progress on an essential task. Although not complex, this task colors any new customer’s initial impression of our operation. My manager stated that he is “good at this… for him,” implying the employee still does not perform it properly. Although struggling but improved, she thought he would be “okay” at the task. Her comment hit my brain like a lightning bolt. I instantly thought, “Our brand is not being supported as it should be!” Not so much by the new hire being trained, but by the trainers.
”No compromise!” quoting Neil Ducoff’s book No Compromise Leadership, was my reply. Assumptions such as my managers’ can deteriorate your brand. I made it clear that compromising any of our systems could have catastrophic results. Our brand-image has been a product of years of hard work and considerable thought. I am proud of what my brand represents and work hard at upholding it.
In business as in war, entrepreneurs can never rest on past achievements. They can be lost in an instant without vigilance. Even small details can be detrimental. Remember that a frog placed in a pot of cold water does not realize that he is being cooked for dinner even after the flame is turned up. Small compromises are the flames that can engulf a business.
There are infinite ways savvy entrepreneurs define and service branding. Sometimes it takes wisdom and creativity. In some instances, something as simple as tweaking how staff presents themselves and the business can have a subtle but profound impact. As an example, words have power. Remember “The pen is mightier than the sword?” In business, substitute “Words are” for “The pen is.” When speaking with customers one should never use words or phrases that may have a negative effect. With a promotion you surely would not say, “Valid only Tuesday because Tuesday’s are slow.” That would not serve a brand-worthy upscale image when “Valid Tuesdays” would suffice. I want my brand-image to present dynamically not negatively. I think most entrepreneurs would also.
Have employees practice band-image reinforcement through affirmative words and actions. Incorporating written scripts for training purposes may help ensure that brand promoting words and activities are used to best represent the business in a positive light. Staff meetings are ideal times to roll play even basic tasks to ensure employees reinforce brand image. It is an ideal time to refine strategies and for useful feedback. It might be appropriate to then again explain how brand reinforcement ultimately benefits them also.
Owners need to communicate clearly to staff the importance of brand and brand image reinforcement. Leaders must bridge the mindset gap from junior to senior staff and show how everyone must be invested in the importance of brand.
About the Author
As the founder of a nationally ranked North Carolina salon, Charlotte author and entrepreneur Michael Randazzo is an expert on creating a lucrative business with limited resources. In just two decades, Randazzo racked up numerous awards in the salon industry while expanding his small business to multiple locations.
At schools across the country, he is always asked the same question: what’s the best way to run a small business? In his new book, “Tales of an American Entrepreneur: Journey of a Small Business Owner,” Randazzo lays out tools and guidelines for patience and perseverance that are sure to help any small business owner succeed.