Rita Gunther McGrath is more than a professor at Columbia University Graduate Business School—she is a world-renowned business strategist and innovation expert. She coaches and consults entrepreneurs from all around the world on the subjects of strategic growth, change, and discovery-driven planning. She is an award-winning thinker, taking home recognitions for Thinkers50, 2013 Strategy, and Best Book Awards—also considered to be one of the top ten management thinkers in the world.
McGrath’s concepts on branding are used by large organizations and Fortune 500 companies, fostering a fresh perspective on brand management, innovation, and strategy. Her groundbreaking line of attack is sometimes called ‘off the beaten path’ and ‘provocative’, but her models generate results, and that is what matters.
McGrath says that your personal brand is crucial to maintaining the business model you worked so hard to shape. You must exemplify the story your product tells—like a billboard—to represent who you are as an entrepreneur. As your personal brand grows, so too will the company’s which is forever evolving as a collective in awareness and character. Countless entrepreneurs become so immersed in developing a comprehensive and leading brand that they overlook one of the most important denominators—themselves.
All growth is dependent on this along with a stable business model, CVP, and consistent branding across the board. The following are a few key points you need to take a look at when building your brand, all from the great Rita McGrath herself.
It is impossible to construct an industry-changing business model without defining a clear CVP (which you must use to show consumers why they should choose your company over everybody else). A clear CVP identifies a problem and offers a differentiated solution that will tell customers how you intend to provide sensible options and solutions to your targeted audience.
Rita McGrath encourages being proactive and taking initiative where your competitors are not. You can exploit other’s weaknesses by ramping up your efforts in that direction. Then, attract attention to your brand by offering services above and beyond what others in your industry currently provide.
She gives an excellent example of a big company’s strategy that small enterprises can build into their branding and business models. PepsiCo uses innovation and timing to appeal to the consumer buying cycle. They appeal to their varied consumer base by offering different promotions and products at the beginning and end of the month. PepsiCo promotes high-end, more elaborate displays at the start of the month, and smaller sizes and economically reliable products toward the end of the month.
PepsiCo’s brand marketing targets the majority of consumers who mostly live from paycheck-to-paycheck, and have less disposable funds by the end of the month. It is a clever way to provide value to a customer—recognizing how people make purchase decisions differently at different times.
High visibility in social media is becoming more and more important for all businesses because of how greatly people depend on it in making decisions and sharing of ideas. Social media can be a word-of-mouth firestorm for your brand.
Your online presence on sites like Facebook and Twitter is essential in maintaining the integrity of your brand. As your business grows, you might want to position a member of your team to monitor accounts and post on your behalf. Being an entrepreneur and head of your company, you can’t always have the time to keep up. If you suddenly stop responding or posting clever anecdotes, your social media following will eventually lose interest.
Customers like to feel connected to their brand of choice, and social media has given them ways to connect like they could never before. Use it to an advantage by engaging, appear available, and make it personal.
When businesses reached its well-oiled machine status signaling attainment of success, many entrepreneurs tend to lean back and relax, which is a big mistake. Taking your eyes off the ball will result to mishaps in many aspects and in turn, will make your brand suffer in the long run.
Always remember to value your customers. Your brand depends on customer loyalty, while customers depend on your brand. Broken trust throws your strategy right out of the window, and pulls you back to the drawing board. Should this happen, your plan must include damage control, but lost of trust is still something you want to avoid at all cost.
The bottom line is simple to understand, but takes much effort to upkeep. If you have any chance of building a brand that retains a loyal audience, your tactics should be flexible enough to bend in an ever-changing industry. Through consistent innovation and branding, you could be the next industry-changing phenom.
Rita Gunther McGrath encourages entrepreneurs to stick their neck out even more than others—it pays to be on your toes in building a strong brand and a successful company. It may seem hard at first but everything is worth your while especially if you keep consistency in applying good strategies, fantastic social media presence, and brilliant innovation.