Want more customers? How about better ones? How would your business be different if all of your customers were your best customers – customers that were right for you?

Your brand is the collected experience of your company in the mind of the consumer. In a sense, it’s the public’s perception of your company that actually “owns” your brand.

As such, telling an authentic story about yourself is important, so that the way you market to customers and the way you conduct business when actually engaged with them are aligned. Articulating and effectively communicating that which is unique and authentically true about your business will resonate with the right customers for you, saving you time and money, and bolstering your image and reputation with the public.

If you’re telling the world you’re something you’re not, whether in design choices, on your website, in your elevator speech, etc., you’re doing yourself and your customers a disservice. There will be a relationship gap between you because you’re making assumptions about each other that aren’t true. And that affects your image and your bottom line.

Branding is much more than your logo or tagline, or how you use social media. Getting to know what your potential customers value, and how those values relate to your company’s value and values, is the key to developing and promoting a successful brand. Remember, it’s the public’s experience of your company that matters. So, why would you waste time and money chasing customers who are not suited to have a pleasurable experience with you? And how do you send out the right signals to get more of the best-fit customers, so every relationship is a happy one?

Your personal values – what you care about and what got you into this work to begin with – are your most potent business builders.

You must first understand your own and your business’ values and objectives in order to communicate them effectively to customers. Ask yourself: What is important to me about the work I do? About the product/service I offer? About the clients I serve? How do I excel? Why am I in business? Where do I want to go with it? Why do I want to go there?

Once confident in your values and objectives, you can begin thinking about your Unique Value Proposition – or in plain English, what makes you stand out from the competition in a way that will attract the customers that naturally jibe with your values and objectives.

Remember, the public “owns” your brand. Many of us are not Starbucks’ or Nike’s customers, but we still have a collected set of experiences around those brands which also helps perpetuate their success. Beyond what features those companies offer their customers, we all understand how those brands benefit their customers. When you get down to it, consumers are only ever asking one question: “What’s in it for ME?”

So when talking about your company’s Unique Value Proposition, be sure to frame in terms of customer benefits, so your potential customer can easily understand how your offering will benefit them.

If you’re not certain what questions to ask to get clarity on your Unique Value Proposi¬tion, it might be time to talk with a branding professional who can help you look at your company and market strategically. It’s that comprehension of your target market and how to most effectively connect what you have with what they want, that will lead you to decisions about your logo, website, social media use, marketing opportunities, etc.

Be sure to message your offering in ways that help you build relationships with customers, not just enable you to get their attention, or collect data about them. Likewise, when selecting advisors and partners and channels with whom to craft and perpetuate your message, be sure each understands the importance of building relationships, not just getting leads or looking attractive.

Knowing where you are and where you want to be is important, too. What does today’s reality look like for your business? What does your ideal future look like? What are the top challenges to achieving your goals? Lay these things on the table and see if you can use your newly clarified values to find and prioritize solutions that will help you connect with customers as well as meet your business goals.

It’s a great moment when you can articulate your true expertise. We’re all in a very crowded mediascape, with many things vying for our attention at the same time. Companies have to maximize their impression in the minimum time or they’ve lost everyone’s attention.

If your brand messaging and visuals are working for you, customers will grasp your offer much more intuitively and get to thinking “yes, I want that!” much more quickly. It's always a two-way conversation. So if you act like the “real you” with the public, you’ll be perceived as responsive, intentional and deliberately engaging, and you’ll be rewarded with business. If you’re also consistent, you’ll be perceived as trustworthy. And that leads to brand loyalty, the basis for stable and prosperous business relationships.

media schmedia LLC is a brand-forward strategic marketing, design and web development company and long-time COSE member. Find them online at media-schmedia.com.