A question every business needs to answer | VailDaily.com

A question every business needs to answer

Cliff Thompson

For business consultant and internationally recognized motivational speaker Joe Calloway of Memphis, who addressed 70 members of the Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau Friday in Vail, the answer is with proper branding of your business.

“Brand is not advertising and it’s not your logo. It’s your persona,” Calloway said. “It’s who you are, what you promise and your ability and willingness to keep that promise.”

Branding should not be confused with advertising. Branding equates into what your business is all about.

Calloway’s interactive address is the second seminar in a series called, “Surviving in and Avalanche of Change,” presented by the Bureau to help its members compete in a changing business environment that by next summer will include competing with megastores like Home Depot.

Doing so successfully means operating smarter.

Calloway told of a small feed store in Texas, called Wall’s, that had an incredibly loyal following, not because it had better goods or products, but because it went one step farther and helped customers care for their livestock. No other feed store did that, he said.

“They created a separate category and they’re the only one in it,” he said. “Your brand should pull people past your competition because you’ve created another category of business.”

the power of the pull of proper branding affects everyone. Calloway said while travelling through an airport he wanted a cup of coffee, and walked past three coffee shops until he came to Starbucks, a company with extremely strong branding.

“I was willing to stand in line and pay three times what the product was worth because of the branding,” he quipped.

Harley Davidson is another company with exceptional branding, Calloway said. It’s equal parts of the intangibles of lifestyle, image and the human imagination that creates what Calloway called a “community of customers” who are loyal to the brand.

“When you can get your customers to tattoo your name on their butt, you’ve got “em for life,” Calloway said. “You’ve become a category of one.”

Category of one is also the name of a book Calloway is writing about successfully branding your company.

“It’s truly difficult to differentiate your business,” Calloway said. “You need to let brand be the filter for every business decision you make, right down to who you hire.”

Creating customer loyalty is the best way to ensure a successful business, Calloway said.

Aerobic branding

In Oregon and Washington there is a very successful automobile tire franchise owned by Les Schwab, Calloway said. While there are thousands of tire service centers in the country, all doing approximately the same job with the same products, Schwab has successfully differentiated itself.

“When you drive up to a Les Schwab dealership, one of their representatives runs to your car to greet you. Schwab also fixes flat tire for free, regardless of where you purchased the tire.

“They do that as a differentiator,” Calloway said. “What’s your business’s version of running to the car?”

Getting that branding message inculcated to your employees is the key, Calloway said.

“When I asked executives of companies that are superior at branding they said they just talk about it all the time until it becomes their company persona,” he said. “Brand building is based on consistency of performance. If you have inconsistencies in performance it will kill your brand.”

“The really cool thing about business is you just make it up,” said Calloway. “You make up what you will be and you can make money doing it.”

Calloway said the best way to assess your business is to step back from the day-to-day and to look at what you’re doing by discussing it with your staff.

“Think about your favorite place to shop, and and try and boil it down to a single phrase about what they do, ” he said. “You have to be able to answer the customer question about why he should do business with you.”

Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555 ext 450 or cthompson@vaildaily.com

Support Local Journalism