Imagine the strongman game at the carnival. You lift the sledgehammer over your head and swing it down onto the platform.

When it strikes its target, a metal cylinder rises up and up—20 feet up the pole, until it dings the bell. On its way down, the pole the cylinder passes the same words it passed on the way up: strongman, tough guy, athlete, junior, weakling.

In a way, establishing a services brand follows a similar process. You swing the hammer (your marketing tactics, the marketing mix you employ, the quality of your company's services), and the strength of your efforts determines whether your brand moves up the pole and makes it to the top to ring the bell.

The question is, "What stages must your brand pass through to ring the bell?"

Ringing the Branding Bell

Strip away the apparent complexity around what building a service brand is all about. You will find that the stages you have to reach with your own strongman efforts are straightforward:

  • Recognize: Your target customers must recognize you.

  • Articulate: They need to be able to articulate what you do.

  • Memorize: When they need your service, your company should be the first option they think of.

  • Prefer: Your target customers should prefer to use your service instead of all the other options available to them.

While there are several interim stages in the services branding process through which you must travel, the desired end result—the golden goose of branding—is to establish preference for your brand over your competitors. (Can you hear the bell ringing?)

To help you visualize your steps to a stronger brand, follow the what we call the Brand RAMP (Recognize, Articlulate, Memorize, Prefer). Within the RAMP framework and methodology, branding becomes approachable as a process and, at the same time, is focused on a worthwhile business outcome.

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image of Mike Schultz

Mike Schultz is president of RAIN Group, a global sales training and performance improvement company, and director of the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research. He is the bestselling author of Rainmaking Conversations and Insight Selling. He also writes for the RAIN Selling Blog.

LinkedIn: Mike Schultz

Twitter: @mike_schultz