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November 24, 2013

The Care and Feeding of Your Brand

By Jessika Phillips

The Care and Feeding of Your Brand

Are your customers loyal to your brand? Or would they switch in a minute to another company with a better price?

You’re in trouble if customers are buying from you only because you have a certain feature or the lowest price. Those are things that can be taken away or copied—someone else can beat your price or duplicate your product.

If customers buy from you because of who you are, nobody can take that away. That’s the magic of branding.

The best brands earn loyalty by making customers feel connected to them because of who they are.

When we think of some of the great brands and who they are, some classics come to mind:

  • Apple Computer - creative

  • Harley-Davidson - rebellious

  • Nike- Athletic

  • REI - rugged and outdoorsy

Lots of companies sell computers, motorcycles, sportswear, or outdoor gear. Customers who buy from these brands are buying into who they are, not what they sell.

How can you as a small business earn customer loyalty the way the big brands do? Some questions to ask yourself are:

  1. What makes you different?

  2. Who you want as your customers?

  3. Can potential customers see themselves in your brand?

What makes you different?

Here’s a small-business example from one of our own clients. Stolly Insurance opened their first office in 1904 in Celina, Ohio. At that time, most business was conducted by people who knew each other from the community.

But if you know Ohio, you’ll know that now, practically every corner has either an insurance office or a chiropractor’s office—sometimes both! The market is crowded, and Stolly wasn’t letting people know what was different about them.

We helped them realize that what makes them different is their history. Sure there are features they offer that other insurance carriers don’t, but what makes them unique is their five generations of roots in the community.

Who do you want as your customers?

This involves creating a buyer persona. In working with Stolly Insurance Group, we identified several buyer personas they wanted to target, focusing on families with children learning to drive, and people active in the community.

Can potential customers see themselves in your brand?

People don’t fall in love with logos, they fall in love with people. To create raving fans, you have to seem more like a human being and less like a business. Customers have to know, like and trust you, and they do that by seeing your brand as a reflection of themselves and the things they already know and like.


Stolly has worked to humanize the, let’s face it—dry—insurance industry by creating a series of YouTube videos showing them having fun at their office and incorporating a fictional employee, “Ricky Joe Stolly” who nobody really seems to know exactly what he does or how he is related, but everyone seems to agree hustles like nobody’s business.

Speaking of hustling, they also created the Stolly Hustle Player of the Year award, honoring a local high school athlete who was nominated by the community as the player who hustles the most.

Other contests like the Community Choice Awards for Favorite Pizza and Battle of the Sandwiches appeal to their family demographic and let their community rally around its favorites.


Any business, no matter how boring their industry may seem to be by an outsider can create a brand that customers know, like and trust. It just takes a little care and feeding.


When you add creativity and community into your marketing..relationships will form and your business will grow.

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Tags: branding, Branding & Design


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