May 6, 2011

What is Your Competitive Edge? Strategic Planning for Your Brand

checkDo you have a competitive edge over your competition? Do you have a clear vision for your brand? Do you know the difference between the two, and is there really a difference?

What is Your Brand?

Your brand is the essence or soul of your business. Every action you take impacts your brand. Ideally, you want a brand that is memorable, has a great reputation and clearly explains to potential customers just what your business is about. Your brand should be appealing to your target market demographic, and be timeless so that you do not have to rebrand as your business grows and changes.

What is Your Competitive Edge?

Your competitive edge can be anything from pricing or service to your overall business model. What is it about your business that makes you different from your competition? If there is no clear answer, you need to strategically plan and develop your brand further so that you can gain the competitive edge you need to succeed in today’s market.

Strategic Planning for Your Brand, and Ultimately Your Competitive Advantage

Image, and the first impressions it creates, is everything. Potential customers will form an opinion of your business within the first 30 seconds of visiting your website. Your website should be modern, easy to navigate and get the message about what makes you different than the competition across quickly. If you need reassurance that your website presents your brand properly, go to your website, set a timer for 30 seconds, and think about what you had the chance to view during that time. If the picture isn’t clear, look for a solid web designer that can help you redevelop your design to catch and keep the attention of guests.

Everything you do in the course of a business day will affect your brand. Nothing spreads faster than negative feedback. Always handle every customer with the utmost care, as everyone with Internet access has the potential to be a critic that can majorly impact your reputation. Likewise, customers that are treated well and have a pleasant experience with your business will spread the word as well. Despite all of the marketing tools available today, word of mouth is still the most profitable form of advertising.

Look online for feedback about your business and your competitors. Make a list of what you can do better, and what your competition does best. Rank these in a top 10 format and work your way through the list. Make changes to your business model that will position you as the best in your industry in each category. Your brand, and your competitive advantage, will improve greatly as a result.

Read more in Personal Branding

Marie is a writer for covering career advice, recruitment topics, and HR issues. She has an educational background in languages and literature as well as corporate experience in Human Resources.