Updated: Nov 9
Have you ever stopped to consider how your brand makes people feel? If you’re a brand manager by trade then you probably have. If you’re an entrepreneur or an independent consultant like me, you should too.
First, yes consultants, you are a brand, or if you prefer you have a brand (let’s not argue about this). People associate certain ideas and ideals with you through your work and they tie that to your worth. That whole picture of you is your brand.
Now, how do you want your brand to make your clients or potential clients feel? Ok, bear with me. I know you’re probably asking “well don’t I just have to get the work done to their satisfaction to make a good impression?”
My answer is “yes”, a resounding “YES”... and there’s more. The key word there is impression. Your client is human, with expectations, fears and desires. When you get the job done well, the impression you leave on the client has to do with what you did, how you did it and how it made them feel.
For instance, that insightful market analysis you produced, the advice you offered along the way, and the time you took to listen to specific concerns helped your client create an effective strategy to bring a new product to market. Both the strategy and the success of the product roll-out were tied to his or her performance indicators. Your client is now more empowered... and relieved to be one step closer to a good performance review. Empowered and relieved; those are two pretty strong feelings, that you had something to do with.
But that’s one specific interaction. Think about the long-term. How do you want the sum of all your interactions over time with all your clients to make them feel? The reports, the conversations, the emails, the Zoom calls, the product offerings? Can you identify a few of the top feelings you want to leave every client with? Accomplished, creative, confident...? Think.
This becomes a part of the value that you bring and even how you become differentiated from your competitors in your clients’ minds. IT’S WHY THE RIGHT PEOPLE WILL CHOOSE YOU. You want to deliver on those feelings time after time.
So that’s the first question to ask yourself,
"How do I want my brand to make people feel?"
Here are 4 other questions you should ask yourself if you want the right people to choose your brand.
How will your brand contribute to the lifestyle they want?
Whether it’s in the lap of luxury or enjoying the sweet simplicities of life everyone aspires to a lifestyle they feel is right for them. And today with all the choices out there, people tend to gravitate towards the brands that move them closer to their aspired way of life. How will your brand help them with that?
Let’s go back to that insightful research report. So it helped your client get a great performance assessment which eventually led to a promotion and a raise. That raise enabled your client to invest in a new renewable energy home system and to look forward to future cost savings and more sustainable living. Yes it may be indirect but your insight helped your client shift into his/her preferred lifestyle.
Of course some specific product and service brands more directly impact lifestyle like landscaping design, new tech, even laundry detergent. The point is, try to understand how your brand helps your clients lean into the life they dream of and hone that.
What will choosing your brand say about their taste?
Oh that question of taste... a very subjective one but very important for some brands to think about. Immediately fashion, beauty and automotive brands come to mind. They do a great job of playing to the preferences of defined target audiences. Whether uncompromising and picky or bold and eclectic, clients can find a match.
But it's not just in these industries where consumer taste is a factor to consider. If as a consultant you operate in an industry where your clients feel especially judged by "important others" based on who they choose to work with, you should be aware. And you should also be aware of what working with you reflects. You'll want to work with clients who're aligned with that.
Will your brand help them be perceived the way they want to be?
This question builds on the last two mentioned. Everyone wants to be viewed in a certain light right? And the choices they make, the clothes they wear, the way they talk, their background, and the brands they choose say something about them. So how do your clients or potential clients want to be seen or thought of? Intellectual, glamorous, thoughtful, informed, creative? And how can your brand help to do that? Can it?
What will they have to give up to choose your brand?
If only we had unlimited resources, what a life that would be. But that's simply not the case neither for your brand nor the clients you aim to serve. Be clear that more than likely if they choose you, they're giving up something else and sometimes that ask may be really hard. For example, giving up a brand they already know to try yours.
I often have this conundrum with beauty brands. The promise of some of the newbies on the market is so compelling but I know exactly what my old faithfuls deliver. If I choose to try something new it will mean substituting spend from my preferred brand as a trial and it's a tough choice. I know I'm taking a risk and I'm challenging that new brand, "You better be worth it".
Bottom line is this, stand in your clients' or potential clients' shoes and understand what they'll have to give up to choose your brand. Then make sure if they do that YOUR BRAND IS WORTH IT.