Originally published in the Boulder Daily Camera and the Longmont Daily Times-Call.

Nothing is more boring than running laps on an inside track. Even watching golf is more exciting. Still, when the weather is bad, I’m forced to run inside.

Running in circles on bad weather days may be good for me physically, but mentally – not so much. To beat the boredom, I fantasize about other people putting in time on the track. Some are regulars that I’ve been watching for years. Others are just here today and gone tomorrow.

I entertain myself by imagining their outside-the-gym lives. What are their interests and jobs? Are they parents or retirees or students or fugitives keeping in shape to run from the law? I base my imaginings on what I can observe – how they’re dressed, how they’re groomed and how they behave. I never know if I’m right or wrong, but pondering passes the time.

People do the same thing with businesses. They often make judgments on what they observe. They arrive at conclusions on clues picked up from your company name or logo. They build images not only on the products or services offered, but also on how you talk about your business and how enthusiastically employees answer queries and offer advice. Current and potential customers/clients also pick up clues from websites, social media posts, blogs, ads, and word of mouth.

Ultimately, some businesses are perceived as “gym posers”. They’re all show and no go. They’re good at stretching to flex their spandex, but they seldom run more than a couple laps. Others are the real deal. They’re defined by their brand.

Brands are significant when it comes to public perceptions. Your brand is a strong statement of your core competencies and strengths. It reflects not only who you are, but also your business values and standards. Bottom line, your brand is your business.

In the gym, “posers” provide comic relief for the regulars. We smile as they try to stretch and flex just like they’ve seen it done in pre-game warm-ups. We bet among ourselves on how long it will be before for those fancy new sweat pants and jerseys are buried deep in a closet or donated. In business, “posers” are poison. So are their brands.

Building a respected brand takes thought and introspection. Successful branding is not a one-time thing. It’s an on-going process that involves every aspect of communication, marketing and promotion. It goes beyond new logos and clever taglines. It gets to the core of why you’re in business, what you have to offer, who you aspire to do business with and why they should close deals with you.

All brands are created, some by marketing gurus, others on wishes or whims. But brands that stand out from the competition have to be earned. Once earned, successful brands must be protected at all costs. The public can be fickle and is slow to forgive. What is considered “in” today can be “out” tomorrow. Brands that fool the public once seldom get a second chance.

Protecting your brand starts with open and honest interactions with customers/clients. How everyone associated with your business relates with the public impacts your brand. Good public relations builds good brands. Better public relations builds even better brands.

In gyms, everyone is watching everyone else either directly or out of the corners of their eyes. The real deals are constantly being judged against the “posers”. So, too, in business. The public is always watching and making judgments that weigh brands against performance.

A business that proudly stands behind its brand welcomes the judgments. “Posers”…just pose.

Stacy Cornay is the owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Advertising. 
Visit www.comm-concepts.com or call 303-651-6612.

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