Who else remembers swinging around and around on a Hills Hoist clothes line in the backyard when you were a kid?
Almost every home had one (and still has one!), and there’s even a famous Australian story about a Darwin family who reported that the only thing left standing after Cyclone Tracy was their Hills Hoist clothes line. The makers of the Hills Hoist is still Australian owned to this day, trading as Hills Holdings, with its famous invention listed as a National Australian Treasure.
With Australia Day just around the corner, we are reminded of some great stories behind iconic Australian brands like Hills and there are some lessons that we as small business operators can learn from their success.
With so much choice for consumers these days, people are looking for greater meaning and sincerity. They are more often choosing to buy from brands with an original story, an engaging identity and an honest commitment to deliver what they promise to customers. The continued success of the Hills brand owes itself almost completely to its authentic brand.
To put it simply, your customers are looking for businesses that practice what they preach and are honest about what they deliver. The Authentic Brand Index is a great source of information for businesses. It measures the authentic equity of Australian brands, and lists the 7 key drivers of Authenticity as:
- Originality – The extent to which your brand has brought something new and different to market.
- Personal Utility – The extent to which your brand delivers real utility to users that they feel they can’t live without.
- Declares Beliefs – The extent to which your brand stands for more than just making money.
- Sincerity – The extent to which your brand tries hard not to let people down.
- Familiarity – The extent to which your brand is well known by everyone.
- Momentum – The extent to which your brand has an aura of becoming more popular.
- Heritage – The extent to which your brand has a relevant and engaging story.
We will assume that as a small business, you are already working towards achieving some, if not all of the above points. However, at Martlette we find it useful, especially at the start of a new year as we start to roll out our marketing strategies, to remind ourselves of the things we can be doing to manage and maintain an authentic reputation in the market place.
It’s not all about the way you look!
So many businesses believe that a rebrand or overhaul of their logo and visual identity is a great way to improve their brand. Martlette Graphic Design will be first in line to tell you that yes, your visual identity is very important. But your logo is not your brand. It is simply the face of your brand, designed in a way that communicates your values, services and promise to your customers. In fact you may find that customers will have new and higher expectations of your business as a result of a visual identity or logo design update, so you may need to start from scratch when trying to establish your authentic brand and reputation in this case.
Know who you are and what you do best!
We’ve said it a million times to our kids – but the same applies to our businesses. Be true to yourself and what you are good at and success will follow! Businesses who are not focused on these two things will often take on work that is beyond their core services and as a result will lose brand authenticity by disappointing customers. The temptation to follow others or copy something you have seen will never surface if your business is focused on what it does best and delivering it to your customers in the best way you know how.
Say what you mean. Mean what you say.
If your business operates with specific values in mind (for example – on time, on budget and with passion) then be sure to let your audience know! However, putting a few lines on your website that outline your values is not enough. You must also follow it up in everything you do and say. Make sure your employees are also your brand champions by educating them about your business values and why you have them. As the business owner or manager, always lead by example and show your employees exactly how you want your messages communicated to customers.
Promoting your business with Authenticity
Your marketing strategy and all marketing messages that flow from it should align with your brand. Authenticity will suffer when your marketing messages are not true to your business brand. Every time you develop a new advertisement, form a new business partnership, send communication out to your customers, and ask yourself “is this in line with our brand?”
The best brands in the market place are those who are authentic. People are very perceptive and will know if you are trying too hard or being dishonest or untrue to whom you really are.
If the Hill’s brothers can develop a winning authentic Australian brand in their backyard back in 1945 – then there is no stopping you! Dare to be you and enjoy the rewarding business success that comes from being “True Blue”!