What is YOUR brand?

by Ed_Cooney 11. August 2012 11:00

What is your company’s brand promise?  What do your clients think of when they think of your business?  Why should prospects choose you over the hundreds of other businesses that you compete with each day?  Whether you are a dentist, florist, accountant, or dry cleaner, it doesn’t matter- your brand promise is typically centered on you, your team, and your involvement in your community.  People do business with you – yes, because you are good at your craft and offer competitive pricing, but also because they like and trust you.  They come to your place of business and talk to friends, not strangers.  Your clients intuitively feel the genuine care your team has for their well-being.  You are not just making a ‘sale.’ They are not ‘just a number.’   

This brand promise seems too simple in a complex world filled with trillion dollar conglomerates.  But guess what- the leadership teams at these companies spend their waking hours trying to figure out how to break down their operations to produce what you, as a small business owner, have mastered.  They spend endless hours, trying to make themselves more flexible, their clients more loved, and their solutions more customized.  Chances are you spend your day trying to figure out how to compete on price with your larger competitors that have enormous purchasing power and marketing dollars.  Chances are they are not going to be able to compete with your level of client intimacy and that you are you not going to effectively compete just on price. 

So why exhaust all of your energy on playing defense?  Not to minimize the real life challenges of competing against the Walmarts and Home Depots of the world, but never forget your competitive advantage which these goliaths envy.  Step up your offense- allocate MORE time and energy on your team and client experience.  How can you make your office the best place in town to work and how can you connect with your clients at an even deeper level.  Re-focus your energy where it counts and don’t underestimate your  true value.   

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Boring

by Ed_Cooney 24. July 2012 11:59

We started our bank with the philosophy that the world does not need another bank.  We started knowing that we wanted to push people out of their comfort zones in regards to what they thought of our bank.  We started knowing we would not be fit for everybody and are o.k. with that.  We constantly get feedback from new clients who visit our office, pull up our website, or read our ads of, “you do not look or feel like a bank.” I personally get feedback that, “you do not look or act like a bank president.” While I am uncertain such feedback is always in the form of a compliment, I am flattered nonetheless. 

Let’s face it - 99% of all banks are BORING.  Take the sign off the front of the branch or brochure and you could not tell the difference between most.  Simply put, banks play it safe.  Why?  Because safe is easy.  It is easy to act like everybody else.  Getting out of your comfort zone means that you may come up short at times; you may fail.  I have always thought that if you were not failing often enough, you were not pushing yourself hard enough.  It is easy to do what has always been done.  Wake up each morning, put on your suit, smile at customers and coworkers, please your investors, and, well, you get it, do the same thing the next day.   It is hard work creating something special that people truly value.  It is hard work implementing constant enhancements to your operation.  People have just come to expect less from their bank - the big banks have set the bar very low and, due to their massive size (multi-trillion dollar institutions!), have implicitly created an industry mired in complacency.  Surveys show that the majority of people are completely indifferent, at best, about their bank. 

Our passion at Affinity Bank is to create something special, to “reinvent the way banking is conducted in the 21st Century.”  While we are far from achieving this lofty goal, I am hopeful that our passion shines through to our clients each day and, while we may not be perfect, we would not be considered boring.   

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