What is your company's image to the outside world? This is much deeper than the slogan on the side of your truck or the mission statement in your lobby. What do others with whom you interact think of your business? Think of Macy’s vs Neiman Marcus or Target vs. Wal-Mart – all four of these stores are in the same business – retail. They all sell clothes. But I am willing to bet they are all clearly different in your mind. You probably have a very different expectation of the product and service you will encounter in those stores.
Now, what is your brand? Where does your business fit among the choices your customers have? Are you high end / high service or low end and make it up in volume? Or are you trying to be all things to all people?
Sears is an example of a brand gone haywire. Many years ago, Sears was synonymous with quality tools and other home goods. Home Depot ate into their consumer market and Sears tried to rebrand as a clothing retailer, even attempting to attract high end female shoppers. The result: the existing customers, mostly male, left and Sears never attracted the female shoppers they desired. A once mighty name means little to those under 35.
There is a need for many brand approaches in the marketplace, but does your image match who you are or who you want to be? BJ's Wholesale Club has huge warehouses packed with stuff without pretty displays and they are proud of that – they embrace image as part of their brand.
Buyers like buying into a clearly defined brand – a business that knows who they are and who they service. Buyers do not embrace businesses without a clear story to tell. It is important to define who your company is and direct all of the collective energy of the company (sales, products, operations, marketing) to excel at what you are good at doing.