And it's because of how branding has often been used. Companies have done psychological studies on how to craft an environment that gets you to react in the way they want you to. It's like herding cattle into the searing-hot iron--ouch.
Of course you don't want to use branding. Why would you ever want to do THAT?
Is There Anything Redeeming About Branding?
When you take the manipulation out of it, branding isn't that bad. It's just a poor word choice to describe this: how a person experiences your business. And, it can be powerful. Let me give you an example.
After last year's Path to Profitability Retreat, we were discussing Starbucks in our marketing class. Starbucks which, despite recent stumbles, grew 14,000% in ten years. Yes, that's not a typo--fourteen thousand percent.
What's more, one of my clients admitted to preferring Starbucks over another coffee shop, even though she didn't really like Starbucks' coffee that much.
Shock. Amazement. She knowingly spent a couple hundred dollars a year at Starbucks, even though she didn't really like Starbucks' main product.
Why Such an Irrational Choice?
One word: "home." Home? Yup, home. My client said that she preferred the "homey-ness" of Starbucks, how comfortable and dependable it was compared to this other place.
That is to say, you can be great at whatever it is you do, and clients that love what you offer may still avoid you. Huh? That doesn't seem to make any sense. But it does if you understand branding.
But let's not call it "branding." Some macho, "business is war and war is hell," person must've picked that word to describe what is, essentially, the job of a gracious host(ess). No need to be flinging the stuffed olives and salmon croquettes at anyone. Let's pick a different word.
Let's Call It "Worldview"
When you are in the business of making things better for people, no matter how you do it, you are helping to presence, to bring into being, a better version of the world. More love. More peace. More effectiveness. More connection.
Accounting, real estate, naturopathic medicine, consulting--whatever you do, you're presencing a world.
So, it's a good idea if all parts of your business help to presence that world. If the look, feel and how you deliver your invoices has a similar effect on your clients as your healing work, your world feels congruent to them, and they can fully rest into it.
When this happens, people feel safe. They feel at home. They feel as if they are stepping into the better world they are striving toward.
This is why you want to be clear about your worldview, and apply it to all aspects of your business. Because every single aspect of your business can be healing, and can play a part in supporting your clients.
If this seems abstract, let's take a look at how this would work for you.
Keys to Applying Your Worldview
When you are in the zone and you are delivering great work to your clients, how do they feel? What are some of the words they use to describe that feeling? Calm? Inspired? Jazzed? Rested? Relieved?
Identify three or four words like that.
Pick some aspect of your business that you avoid, dislike, or that just feels troublesome, which also touches your clients. For instance, billing, setting appointments, or your website.
What don't you like about it? What are the three or four words you would choose to describe your experience with it?
Now, time to presto-chango shine up that troublesome part with the qualities of your best work. Should your invoices be on cool paper, with a fun font and graphic, and use friendly language? Should the door to your office be decorated differently? Would it be a good idea to replace that utilitarian notepad with something that reflects the better world?
Starbucks pays extreme attention to the decor in order to create that "homey" feel my client likes so much, and that attention to detail has skyrocketed their business. You may not be dreaming of 14,000% growth, or world domination (hopefully not), but the lessons here are real.
Pick one aspect of your business' world at a time, and step-by-step transform it so that every part of you and your clients' experience is helping to presence the world you are wanting to live in. Your clients will love it, feel safe and come back.
The best of my business to you and your business,