How digging out from a snow storm is like building a brand

Sometimes it’s 75 degrees and sunny, and sometimes you get two feet of snow dumped on you. Kind of the way business is too, isn’t it? And when Old Man Winter decides that he’s going to make your life a little more challenging, you know that task of digging out isn’t done in five minutes. It takes some time, effort, and patience. As I was struggling through clearing our front walkway and getting our ’01 Jetta back to its normal state, I started to think that a lot of this could be related back to building a brand and developing a business…I also started to think that Old Man Winter can give it a rest already…but anyway…

It takes time
In terms of time, developing a brand isn’t something that’s done overnight. We all know this, but sometimes forget it. I thought it would take about an hour and a half to get our car out. It ended up taking a little over two. We should always expect things to take a little longer than we originally thought.

Branding is no different. It takes time to change perceptions, especially if we’re attempting to revise our former brand. One example that comes to mind is a once high end restaurant that was struggling to bring in business. The local customer base was more interested in burgers and fries than French wine. So what did they do? They decided to rebrand themselves into a sports bar. Did it work? Yes, but it didn’t happen right away. They had to fight the perception that they were still a fine dining establishment until word spread through good experiences.

Lots of effort
That pile on our VW didn’t move itself. And anyone who has spent a day shoveling 24 inches of wet snow will tell you that it takes some energy, will, and maybe ibuprofen. Brands don’t get built by themselves either. When developing one, it takes consistent effort, day by day, to generate those impressions that will help you stand out in what you do.

Going back to our restaurant example, it was going to take more than a radio spot and an ad in the local paper. It took some hard work by everyone involved in the business to generate the types of impressions that they were looking for in terms of branding. These impressions even drill down to stuff like how the servers interact with the customers and font on the menu. Most is all really small stuff that adds up, and just like snow, it takes work to move all of it and get it going.

And even more patience
It can sometimes become extremely frustrating when stuff just doesn’t go our way and we get pushed back to square one. Sometimes branding or rebranding can be the same. At times, we need to change course or take a step back. When the plow driver decides that it’s a good idea to move what’s in the street back onto our driveway, losing our patience doesn’t help anything at that point. I’m by no means perfect at this, but I work on it as best as I can to try to take a deep breath and get back to it.

From a business sense, maybe we had a customer that had a bad experience with us, and it was no fault of our own. Maybe during his meal there was construction going on outside that made his time there pretty unpleasant. Yelling at the guy with the jackhammer won’t help at this point, but addressing your customer’s concerns will. After that’s settled, then you can address the cause of the issue.

The takeaway here is that after the storm is through and we’ve done our work, we have something to show for it. Digging out is not really fun, and certainly not glamorous, but it’s necessary to keep improving. Putting those thoughts into how you brand and grow your business can go a long way into helping you enjoy some better weather once Old Man Winter calls it quits.

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