What is Branding?
Jeff Bezos defines “branding” or “brand” as what people say about you when you’re not in the room. You can’t control people’s perception of you, but you can influence it. What people say about your music school when you’re not in the room is based on a combination of people’s experiences with you and all the different aspects of your music school.
Quite often when we think of branding, we think of images, logos, and colors, but that’s certainly just a part of it. Images, logos, and colors impact how people think and feel about your music school.
Small Marketing Elements, Big Brand Impact
A well-designed website created by a professional with bright colors and a simple design is going to positively influence how someone feels about you, as opposed to a music school that uses lots of dark colors and has a lot of clutter on their self-designed website. All these different elements are influencing people’s perception of you.
It’s sort of like when you go on a first date with somebody. At the end of the date, the person forms a perception of what kind of person you are and how they feel about you. That perception comes not just from one aspect of who you are but from multiple aspects. It includes how you look, how you present yourself, and how you talk.
Yes, it’s important to focus on marketing, running ads, and writing good copy. However, branding is also about concentrating on your brand and making an effort to influence how people think and feel about you.
How Indeed Shaped Their Brand Through Powerful and Unique Advertising
I went to see the movie Oppenheimer the other night, and I had a great experience with branding and action. It was really a valuable lesson. Before the movie, they ran these commercials, and perhaps you know Indeed.com – the website where people post job openings and search for jobs.
They’ve created a fun way to support young or lesser-known film directors, helping these directors get their voices heard. Perhaps it involves a process where people submit their ideas for a film, and then Indeed will provide funding to the filmmaker.
The Value of Positive Impression
They are creating jobs for people, and I found the whole thing fascinating. It’s a great example of branding. Indeed is not in the business of making movies; they’re in the business of helping people find employees and assisting people in finding jobs.
So, why bother setting aside money to help small filmmakers? It’s a great example of doing something that’s going to earn points with the public and make people form a positive impression of Indeed, but they’re also doing it to make money.
Now, this isn’t purely a charitable effort by Indeed. They’re presenting it that way, but what they’re actually doing is influencing or shaping their brand.
Earn Customer’s Brand Loyalty Through Serving Others
As I was watching this little commercial at the movie theater, my opinion about Indeed was changing. “Wow, what they’re doing is so cool. Maybe they’ll do something like this for musicians or artists who don’t have the funds to record an album. What a great thing.”
Indeed is positioning themselves as the good guy, the champion for the artist. If I were to list a job posting, I would be that much more inclined to use Indeed after seeing this little commercial.
So what’s the lesson that music school owners can learn from it? Because I think there’s a lot we can learn. I’m assuming Indeed asks themselves, “What are we really about? We’re not just about helping people find jobs. We’re also about creating jobs, creating opportunities for people to empower themselves and empower their entrepreneurial spirit.”
Discover Untapped Opportunities to Serve Beyond Your Business Scope
Through their success, they will create jobs. Indeed is not in the movie-making business, but they found a common link. They were probably thinking, “Well, the people in the movie theater – they’re a captive audience. They’re sitting there, watching those little ads before the movie.” Perhaps Indeed said, “How can we get in front of these people?” They could’ve just run ads from somewhere. Indeed is a job posting site, but they took it a step further. They position themselves as an organization that is committed to doing good, making a difference in the world, and contributing to a better world by empowering artists and filmmakers.
Find a Compelling Cause to Differentiate Your Music School Among Parents
I believe you can apply this way of thinking to your music school and ask yourself: “Okay, sure, we provide music lessons. That’s what we’re selling. But is there something else we can stand behind? Is there another cause we can support, something we believe in and are passionate about, that will lead parents in our community to perceive us differently? Maybe they already have a positive opinion of us, but you know what? You can never have enough positive sentiments coming your way.”
It’s something you always want to be building on—your reputation, your brand, and your community. So, for your consumers, parents who are seeking music lessons for their kids, is there something you could do that goes beyond the music lesson, beyond simply trying to attract more students? Something that would make parents think, “Wow, these guys are all about empowering kids.”
They do it through music lessons, but they also achieve it through these other methods. Perhaps it’s through a charitable effort, or maybe it’s about creating an opportunity for your students that will truly have a positive impact on their lives, even if it has nothing to do with music.
Deliver Value, Leave a Lasting Positive Impact on Your Customers
Music lessons help kids feel more confident, grow as individuals, overcome challenges, and teach them about perseverance and resilience. Perhaps there’s another way, another activity. Maybe it involves inviting your student body to engage in volunteer work or participate in community activities.
Maybe very few students will take you up on it, but it’s going to have a positive impact on how people think about you, just like what Indeed is doing. It really made me think, “These guys aren’t just some big corporation trying to make money. They’re trying to make an impact on society. That little commercial changed my whole perception of them.”
How Strategic Word-of-Mouth Marketing Can Help Your Brand
We all know that word-of-mouth marketing is the most powerful form of marketing. It’s also the least expensive, but word-of-mouth marketing also requires a strategy.
I’m talking about Indeed right now because I was moved. I was impressed by what they’re doing. I’m remarking on it because I think what they’re doing is remarkable. Word-of-mouth marketing. They got me talking. How can you get the families in your music school to talk about your music lessons?
What will that conversation look like? We all know that word-of-mouth marketing is our number one source of new students, but you have to give your parents something to talk about.
Take Your Word-of-Mouth Marketing to the Next Level
One way I bet you get a lot of referrals is when someone goes to a friend and says, “Hey, isn’t little Johnny taking music lessons somewhere? I’m thinking of signing my kid up for lessons. What’s the name of that school he takes lessons at?” That’s word-of-mouth marketing. That’s one type, but if you can take your word-of-mouth marketing to another level—if you can create experiences, opportunities, or do things in your school that are worthy of a story, interesting and fascinating, and have nothing to do with music lessons—people will want to share them with others.
The Importance of Creating Good Stories
People with good stories are perceived as interesting. I think the story about Indeed is an interesting one. It might be nice to share at a social gathering. Everybody wants to come across as interesting. Everyone wants to have good stories to share when they’re in a conversation.
By creating interesting and unique opportunities for your students or simply children in the community, you’re providing those who interact with your music school with stories to share. That is the secret to word-of-mouth marketing.
You Can’t Pay Your Customers to Talk
The secret to word-of-mouth marketing isn’t offering a financial incentive for them to refer to your music school. When you say to the parents in your school, “Hey, I’ll give you $50 if you refer someone to the school,” you’re trying to incentivize them with money, as opposed to a genuine feeling or experience they’ve had. You’re also establishing a certain level of expectation by saying, “Refer someone to us, and we’ll give you money.”
If people love your music school, if they love what you stand for, what you represent, if they love how you’ve impacted their child’s life, if they love the different opportunities you create for kids in the community, they’re just going to talk about you anyway. They don’t need money to talk about you.
Marketing is about broadcasting a message designed to attract people. Sales involve a conversation to turn a curious onlooker into a customer. Branding is our effort to change and persuade people’s feelings and perceptions of you. Branding, just like marketing and sales, requires a strategy and a plan.