Amazing new product? Check. Great fit for a church installation? Check. The dissonance between who you say you are and who your church prospects say you are? Ummmm. To complete this checklist, it begs the question: What is your brand known for?
Your brand is not what you say it is; it is what your prospects and clients say it is.
For all of the effort in positioning statements, taglines, clever branding techniques or the ubiquity of your logo, what others think of who you are as an organization is your truest brand representation.
Think of the brand name that has the most value to you in the audio, video and lighting (AVL) field. OK, now think about why that brand name carries such weight with you. Chances are, at least three of the key attributes listed below apply to why you hold that brand in such high regard:
When a Brand is Powerful
A powerful brand is an identity for the organization’s purpose, not their products. They focus their marketing on delivering their unique brand promise for the benefit of the client. Their products may be great, but their brand transcends the features and benefits of their products or services. To do this, they always — always — start with their ‘why’ not with their ‘what’ and are relentless in their resolve to be more than peddlers of products. They are masters of delivering on their vision and mission. Noted marketing consultant and TED talk speaker Simon Sinek has done a masterful job of describing this in the clip below, “Start with Why.”
A powerful brand knows what they want to be known for. They have a value proposition grounded in the differentiation of who they are that is evident in what they deliver. You’ll notice that these powerful brands do not focus on price. Period. They focus on delivering their unique value so that the client resonates with the value that’s in it for them. Price is short-term; value is long-term. They start, and stay focus on, their ‘why’ day in and day out.
A powerful brand is known for something. Their ‘something’ causes them to stand apart from their competition and adds intrinsic value for their users. My friend Mark MacDonald deeply understands branding and churches. He has recently released a book called “Be Known for Something” that is aimed at helping churches go through this very process to reach their audience. If you’re serving churches, this book will help inform you about the church market in a unique way that will help you better identify with their felt needs.
A powerful brand delivers what they can best produce and delivers on their promises. Some of the largest powerful brands consistently deliver more of what they’re great at producing instead of spreading themselves thin across too many different categories. I don’t need to drop names for you to recognize how true this is when you’ve been to the million-dollar trade show booths (small villages, really) of some big brands. Sure, they have a big brand and a high diversity of products, but you’ve undoubtedly experienced the reality that while they have deep expertise in multiple technologies, they tend to be superlative at only a few of them. Greater focus beats a larger product offering more often than not.
Powerful brands are focused on their audience. These brands know exactly what they’re best at, who their most profitable clients are and what those clients value about what they do. For the house of worship market, there is massive potential for any number of manufacturers and systems integrators to gain serious ground in understanding this principle and effectively targeting, reaching, and engaging with an underserved market.
What You Are Known for by Churches
As a founding member of the largest church market technology expo, I can objectively tell you from experience that the vast majority of booth sponsors focus on either price or a feature to try and entice attendees. Having walked those and other trade show aisles with hundreds of church clients and prospects, it is unfortunate how often these vendors miss out on meaningful opportunities with decision-makers and influencers.
I’ve had scores of churches ask me what I think about a particular brand, and I always respond with the same answer: “What do you feel about [that brand]?” I do this because it requires the brand to stand on its own and for the church to consider what it means to them. No ‘expert’ can tell you what a brand will mean to you because what you value most may not be what another person values most. This is how the brands Puma and Adidas can co-exist with great success; each brand, though both are powerful, means something different to their loyal clients. (Interestingly, those two brands were started by two brothers from the same family.)
To be known for something by churches means you’ve understood and applied two things. First, it means you know yourself (your brand) well and that all that you deliver is based on that deep understanding and the value proposition that it stands for. Second, it also means that you know how exactly what that value means for the segments of churches that would be ideal clients. This is not all churches, but a subset (or a few segments) of the overall church market that values what you deliver even more than what your products and services can do for them (features/benefits).
Evaluating Your Brand Promise
What does your brand promise? Today, what does that mean to the house of worship market? What could it mean three, six, or 12 months from now? How can you better align your ‘why’ so that it oozes your value proposition? What would that value proposition mean to various segments of the church market?
To become a powerful brand, understand the statements above and do a SWOT (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats) analysis to see how your brand measures up. From these candid moments of reflection, consider how you can add a unique differentiation to the churches that would believe what you believe. This may sound simple, but it will lead to some uncomfortable conversations that may require a significant shift in your business model.
I’d recommend surveying several hundred churches that you have in your prospect and client databases. Ask them about what your brand means to them and what they want from a technology company serving the church market. The answers, I believe, will honestly surprise you because they’re based on the viewpoint of churches and not businesses. There is likely a dissonance between who you say you are as a brand and who these surveyed churches will say you are as a brand. The truth is, they’re right. That’s your actual brand representation to this huge market. Now your job will be to learn from the axiom that perception is reality and actively change how you present your brand to the churches that can become loyal users and brand ambassadors.
Have you experienced the dissonance between what churches say your brand is compared to what you say your brand is? Share your views and opinions in the comments below.