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3 Simple Steps to create a local brand that outshines your competition.


If you run or promote a business – here’s your moment of truth: if there was no competition in your local market, you would literally attract all the customers and make ALL the sales!

The reality is that you share the local cake with a few others that do what you do. As a result, your future sales are never certain, they peak and trough, driven by forces you can’t see. And you spend every day running at attack-speed to keep things pointed in the right direction.

The cake, or your market, is only so big with you and others slugging it out for the same customers and spend. You win and lose based largely on customer service and word of mouth. Some customers repeat, some don’t. And when you get a new one, it’s probably because one of your loyal ones said something nice about you to a friend. It’s hard but rewarding… to a point.

If you own that business, you probably spend a fair percentage of your time wishing for an easier life, an easier income, more repeat customers, more certainty and as much holiday as you can get. Sound familiar?

There is an answer. But many people don’t understand it. Those that do wave it around like it’s their own personal buzz-word-bingo banner. They make it sound as user-friendly as Pythagoras Theorem – but surprisingly it’s not. It’s better than that. It’s called: brand.

For any business owner, it’s made up of three simple steps:

Step 1: Define It

Defining brand is the bit that marketing people think belongs to them and them alone. Closely guarded secrets and all that, but it belongs to everyone in the business, because everyone is needed to bring it alive.

The traditional definition of brand is the logo that companies use to advertise their products and services. There are some good examples of this and many of them are so well-known that they are instantly recognisable: Coca-Cola, Heinz, Apple, Nike, McDonalds and so on.

But today a brand is much more. It’s your company’s identity, defined by what makes you stand out from competitors that sell me-too products or services. Your brand is the unique image that you project to your customers and prospects. It tells them who you are, what you think and feel, why they’re important to you and why you are better than any other business that does what you do.

It’s not a logo – it’s a feeling. It’s the feeling that you give prospects (I like the sound of this business. I want to talk to them) and customers (I love doing business with these people. They do a great job. I want to keep going back because they make me feel good!)

It’s making a promise to people and then keeping it, time after time. This builds a lasting reputation for making them feel good to the point where they either like or love the experience. Your brand becomes a favourite for them because they know what they want and that you provide it. Think about it: what are the brands you love? Say them out loud: there will be several of them and there will be specific reasons why you love them. Your customers are the same.

Step 2: Build It

Your business builds its brand identity by answering a few simple questions. The answers are the organs of your identity:

  • What do we do for our repeat customers that keeps them coming back?

  • What is brilliant about our product?

  • What is excellent about our service?

  • How can we improve it so that our customers like it even more?

  • What do we stand for?

  • What do we believe in?

  • What makes us a great business to buy from?

  • How do they want us to behave?

  • What do our customers want today and what will they want tomorrow?

  • How do we turn brand-like to brand-love?

You don’t complete this exercise in 20 minutes. It takes a few ideas-sessions to create a meaningful imprint. Involve people, inside and outside your business. Take some time and define your business’s identity. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes – Why would I want to buy from you? How will you make me happy? What makes you different to the people I use right now?

When you think you’ve done enough, go to Step 3. Your life-long job after this will be to test and refine. Your brand will evolve day after week after month, forever. You will tweak it, change it and evolve it to stay ahead of the game – and the competition.

Step 3: Communicate It

You can have the greatest brand in the world but if you don’t communicate it, who will know? And when you communicate your brand, there’s a purpose behind it. Go back to a little earlier:

And if you own that business, you probably spend a fair percentage of your time wishing for an easier life, an easier income, more repeat customers, more certainty and as much holiday as you can get.

There are endless ways to communicate your brand in pursuit of new customers, and to nurture existing ones, including:


  • Banners outside your business

  • Banners inside your business

  • Straplines on staff uniforms

  • Educating your staff to communicate in a particular way

  • Customer greetings and follow-ups

  • Customer service

  • Customer hospitality

  • Staff and customer newsletters

  • Staff training

  • Creating a new culture with its own leader or champion in your business to focus on your customers and your staff


  • Customer recommendation programmes

  • Customer reward programmes

  • Website

  • Social media posts

  • Brochures (for Boomers and Gen X)

  • Advertising

The more of these you can do, the better your communication will be because every activity combines to help build and accelerate your brand. Of course, it’s helpful to remember that there’s one thing in brand-building that is more important than anything else.

Care to guess?

The vendor in your town (selling what you sell) that has the biggest sales is likely to have or create the most successful brand. Sales is the key measure. If that’s the case, there is a critical component that you must master, continually.


Shouting about your brand, achieving brand-fame, attracting a healthy river of sales leads or enquiries that you convert to swell your loyal and enthused customer-tribe is key to sustainable business growth. So, what do some of your choices look like in the blend, mix or choice of advertising options available to you?

  • Social media

  • Television

  • Press

  • Radio

  • Petrol station fuel nozzles

  • Train station ticket gateways

  • Billboards

  • Mobile billboards

  • Bus shelter posters

  • Bus sides

  • Roundabout sponsorship

  • Local magazine

The choice is yours. If you want to advertise, just pick one, run a short-term ad and see what happens. You won’t build your brand that way and you certainly won’t create brand-fame in the local market.

If you want to make your life easier and more rewarding, you will select the advertising platforms that reach your prospects most reliably and in the greatest verifiable numbers (don’t just believe what they tell you). This means, look for advertising that physically connects and interacts with the customer – not that they might have a chance to see as they whizz past it or an impression: they might see you at the bottom of the page they’re scrolling down in a nanosecond.

Then decide on the blend of your advertising:

  • One platform or many?

  • How frequently?

  • Monthly, quarterly, yearly?

  • How long for?

  • In what locations?

  • With what variety?

All you’ve got to do now is make a lovely job of showing them your identity, what makes you stand out, why you’re so wonderful and why they’ll love you – and do it so thoroughly that the competition can’t get a look-in.

I know, it’s a leap of faith – Yes Cinders, you shall go to the ball! After all, this is serious. You’re considering investing in your business to promote brand-fame, market leadership and long-term sustainable growth and the nagging doubt at the back of your mind is: Will it work?

To answer that you need only to go back to the super-brands that we mentioned earlier. Then think about all the other famous brands that you know: internationally, nationally and locally. They became the success that they are and maintain it because they decided the key to success was to define their brand and then advertise it until the cows came home.

And for those brands the cows just keep on coming!