This is the seventh article in a series called Biblical Principles for Sales and Marketing. Throughout the series, we’ve explored ways that these five principles apply to our everyday marketing decisions.
1. Love. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. Luke 6:31
2. Truth. A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight. Prov 11:1
3. Humility. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Philippians 2:3
4. Contentment. Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5
5. Service. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Ephesians 4:28
Though we hear the term branding tossed around a lot, it can be hard to put our finger on exactly what people mean by it. This article gives you a new way to think about branding so that you can more clearly understand how to build your own business’s brand in a way that honors God.
Branding as your reputation
Branding is the activity of building and managing the reputation of your business. You might be able to think of someone you know who has a negative reputation, such as being a gossip. Conversely, you surely also know many people who have a good reputation, such as being a hard worker or a selfless giver.
We understand how a person builds a reputation—it forms over time by the way the person dresses, speaks, and acts. Stories, good or bad, circulate about the person. Family, friends, and distant acquaintances form impressions, and some people’s impressions are very different from others. However, usually a person’s reputation is similar among most of their acquaintances.
Your business builds its brand the same way a person does. This chart shows parallel elements of a personal reputation and a business reputation.
|Personal behavior and personality||Business actions and policies; employee interactions with customers; user-friendliness of your website, sales process, and products; level of customer service.|
|Personal speech||The content and tone of employees’ words, as well as the words in your brochures, website, and other materials.|
|Personal dress and mannerisms||Business visual identity (logo, colors and photo/illustration styles) and employee appearance; appearance of your store/location, including cleanliness, neatness, overall style/ambience, employee uniforms.|
|Personal values or beliefs||Business mission, vision, and core values|
|Personal Skills||The products and services your business delivers very well. The high value work your customers depend on you for.|
While your brand is partially developed by the colors, photos, and words in your marketing materials, the experience you deliver to customers by what you do and don’t do has a greater impact on your brand reputation.
In a video entitled “Why Making Your Business Look Good May Actually Kill It,” Donald Miller points out that new business owners often obsess over the wrong things. Because they care so much about how the business looks, they spend a lot of resources on a logo and colors (what we often think of as branding). That has its place, but Miller says that business leaders should obsess over the business model and making it profitable first, and image second.
Acting in a way that fulfills the promises in your marketing builds trust in your business. By this measure, then, your logo and brand colors are an important part of your brand presentation, but not as important as product quality and customer satisfaction.
The principle of truth in branding
You don’t need me to tell you that telling the truth in your promotional materials is important. It’s non-negotiable. Words may be the most obvious way to communicate the truth, but there are other aspects to consider:
● What message do the photographs send?
● Does the tone of the images align with the way the customer will experience your services and products?
● Does the graphic style communicate the attitudes and values that are important to you?
● Does the style accurately convey your business’s personality?
● Do the colors signal the right feelings?
To be truthful in all aspects of marketing means that people will not be surprised when they engage with your business. (Of course, little surprises that come from under-promising and over-delivering are a good thing!) Referring to your brand, Seth Godin writes in This Is Marketing, “Every slice of interaction ought to reflect the whole. Every time we see any of you, we ought to be able to make a smart guess about all of you.”
The adage, “Your actions are speaking so loud I can’t hear what you are saying,” is pertinent to brand building. You can hear the same words spoken with a different tone of voice, which can change the meaning. Your brand style in your marketing is like the tone of voice. It couches the words of your message with context for understanding them.
The principle of love in branding
Accurately displaying your business’s character and personality is not only the honest thing to do, but it is also the loving thing to do. Your business is ideally suited only for the people who want to deal with a business that has a personality like yours has. Showing that personality clearly helps them more quickly determine if they should engage in business with you or if they would do themselves a favor by choosing a competitor.
You can also show love to your target market by being a positive influence on them. Just like a cheerful, kind, smiling person can brighten up a room just by walking into it, your business brand can influence people by showing up with upright character and appropriate personality.
This principle can also apply to how you position yourself in relation to your competitors. Avoid mimicking your competitors too closely. Let them have their space, while you carve out your own niche and positioning.
The principle of humility in branding
Should every brand be humble? Well, should every person be humble? Yes, of course! As Christians, we should avoid displaying pride in our marketing and in our business operations, not being flashy, overstated, or sensational.
Few people enjoy dealing with a proud person, but what about brands that are focused on superior quality and excellence? Should they be positioned as best-in-class? Yes, they should. But that can be done without displaying pride.
Here at Rosewood, one of our core values is Humble Excellence. We don’t believe that humility and excellence are a contradiction or mutually exclusive. Remember, the glory for any business achievement belongs to God. We should direct it there.
The principle of contentment in branding
Can your prospects tell from your marketing that you are content for them to choose your competitor if it’s a better fit for them? Embracing an attitude of contentment helps us to be truthful and humble in the way we represent our business to others. Contentment in marketing should start with personal contentment and radiate into your brand.
Your brand can spark discontentment in others, or it can inspire them in positive ways. Are you influencing others to experience God’s best for them? Or are you opening the door to the worst? “Other businesses are doing it” is not a good reason to compromise your principles.
When your business operations and marketing display contentment, it rubs off on others. Godliness with contentment is great gain. Let’s influence others to share in that gain.
The principle of service in branding
I know you are in business to make a living, but you are also in business to serve others. Without those customers, you wouldn’t have a living, so treat each customer and prospect with grateful generosity.
Your marketing should communicate to customers and prospects that you are there to serve. Center your brand and your marketing around your customer and their needs and desires.
People should come into your business hoping for good service and value. They should leave with their hopes fulfilled. After all, we are here to serve others. Jesus was our great example of serving. Committing to serve and following through on those commitments is the Christlike thing to do.
Setting proper expectations is important to customers feeling like they were served well. Under promising and over delivering is a good way to make sure this happens. What extras can you build into your process to over deliver to your customers?
As respectable individuals, we dress to fit the occasion. We wouldn’t wear coveralls and barn boots to a wedding. You can imagine how this would immediately damage your reputation (What was he thinking?!). In the same way, when we don’t “dress” our business properly, it causes prospects and customers to question whether we are a good choice. Strategically branding your business is a service to your customers because it helps alleviate their concerns and gives them confidence.
Would you book a flight with an airline that had a homemade logo and no recognizable brand? For companies that we trust with our lives, conveying professionalism through their visual branding is crucial. But as you’ve learned in this article, a strong visual brand isn’t everything. Airlines or car companies must also do quality work, or they will suffer in the marketplace.
Granted, you don’t run an airline or car business, but the principle applies. Do you have a sleek brand but inferior products or customer service? Serve your customers better by fixing the problem areas so your customers’ experiences match your branding.
Maybe you have a lousy visual brand but superb products and loyal customers. Your stellar reputation is part of your brand too, so you have a great start! Spruce up your brand presentation to give prospects a better picture of what you can truly offer them.
Branding is building and managing your business reputation. To do this well, you need to know what reputation you want to have. Then go to work, first making it a reality in your operations and then inviting others to experience it with your marketing.
Remember that no part of business is exempt from Biblical principles. Sales and marketing is no exception. Following Biblical values in your sales and marketing is an important aspect of operating your businesses for God’s glory and the benefit of those around us.
About the Author: Roy Herr is the senior marketing consultant at Rosewood Marketing. The Rosewood team guides business owners through marketing challenges into sustainable growth.
Contact Roy at firstname.lastname@example.org