“Branding” is one of those concepts that we all sort of know in the back of our heads, but it’s hard to verbalize what exactly it means. Even the word itself smacks of being in a seminar somewhere with an overly enthusiastic speaker asking “What is branding?” and then playfully saying “No!” to every answer before launching into some buzzy definition of “your brand.” It’s enough to make the average business owner avoid the concept altogether.

Here’s the bad news: You already have a brand. Your clients, prospects and employees all have a mental picture of what it means to work with or for your company. In short, that mental picture is your brand. The choice we each have to make is whether we want to be intentional about our brand or just let it happen. They're both valid options, but since your brand CAN be a powerful positive resource, it’s better to invest the time and energy into making a brand that benefits your business.

 What Are You Really Selling?

What do you sell? If I asked 50 of my clients, I would guess that most of them would give me a list of services they offer. “Commercial landscape maintenance,” “fertilization and weed control,” “high-end design/build.” On one hand, they would all be accurate. On the other hand, they would all be wrong. 

One key to thinking about your brand is separating what you “produce” from what you “sell.” What you produce is the work itself, the features of the actual thing you do on a daily basis. It's the operations side of your business that you can measure in square footage, properties served, landscapes installed. That is what you produce. 

What you sell is quite different. What you sell is the next-level thing that the client gets from working with you. It’s the benefit, rather than the feature. You're selling the idea in the client’s mind that makes them want to work with you.

You might produce Unilock paver patios and outdoor kitchens, but you're selling the idea of a happy family spending time together. You are selling the idea that the kids will bring the grandkids to swim in the pool.

You might produce weed-free lawns, but you are selling having the best lawn on the street. You are selling the feel of grass underfoot and having your neighbor ask “How can I get my lawn to look like that?”

You produce maintenance services, but you're selling the experience of pulling into the driveway on a Thursday evening and seeing the lawn cut and trimmed, and the freedom of the weekend calling.

You produce commercial landscaping, but you're selling increased occupancy and compliments paid to the property manager by the owners.

Focal Point produces presentation folders, but we sell a professional image. We produce newsletters and e-newsletters, but we sell client education, reduced service calls, and increased revenue per client.

It's totally understandable to think in terms of what you produce. Production can be measured and counted. However, it can also be mimicked and made into a commodity. As you think of what you do in your business, think beyond what rolls out of the shop every morning and what can be measured on a P/L. Put yourself in the shoes of the client and ask yourself what benefit they will get from working with you. There’s something unique, I’m sure, but each company needs to find it for themselves. Think about your clients. Where do they work, where do their kids go to school, what do they do with their free time? How can your services be part of that picture?

Figure out what they're really buying, and you’ll know what you’re really selling.