Knowing what your brand stands for and communicating that to your customers can give you an incredibly powerful edge over your competitors.

Do you know how your studio is different from the other dance studios in your marketing area?

More importantly, do you know why your customers and prospective customers choose you over your competitors'?

What Is Your Brand All About?

The sum total of what your customers think about your studio is your brand. They are going to form an opinion about your brand no matter what: the facade of your building, your logo, your website, the furniture in the waiting room, the posters on the walls, the hello they receive (or don't) from your receptionist, the quality of your classes, word of mouth from their neighbors - all the components of their experience of your studio fuel your customers' perceptions of what your brand is all about.

The good news is, you have control over what your customers' experience. Even better, if you understand what it is they like about you compared to your competition (what marketers call your brand essence), you can shape their experiences to better reflect that.

Here's how you can determine what your brand is all about. First, you'll need to do a little research.

Know thy customers. Understanding your key customers is the most critical piece. Who are they? How old are they? What are their lives like? How does your dance studio fit into their lives? What do they like about your studio? What don't they like? What do they expect from a dance studio? Are these the customers you want to have? Do you perhaps have two sets of key customers moms and children? Do they have different needs?

Know thy competition. Who are your key competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Who are their customers and are those customers different from yours? How would their customers describe them? In what ways are you like your competitors and in what ways are you different? In what ways are you better? Keep in mind that competition for your customers' valuable time might include other activities besides dance, like sports or online games.

Know thyself. What are your strengths and weaknesses? (Of course here we are talking about your dance studio, but knowing your personal strengths and weaknesses is also valuable.) What services, skills or other benefits can you deliver to your customers that none of your competitors can match? Which of these are the most valuable to your targeted customers? Are there some "deliverables" that you can add to your business that will address unmet needs of your customers and lock in their loyalty? Consider that the most valuable benefits you provide may be intangible ones, for example: self-confidence, professionalism, a sense of community, a supportive environment.

Putting the Pieces Together to Create Your Brand

Your overall goal is to understand what are the benefits that dance studios can provide that are most valued by your best customers. Of those benefits, which can you provide that your competitors cannot provide? The description of those benefits, unique to you and highly prized by your customers, is your brand essence. That's what your brand is all about.

Here are some examples. Studio A communicates a focus on winning performance dance competitions, prized by the competitive parents in a wealthy enclave. Studio B presents itself as a safe after-school environment for school age children whose working parents are not available to supervise them. Studio C is known as a community meeting place for all ages to get healthy exercise.

It may be argued that many dance studios do all of the above, and that may be true. However, no studio can be all things to all customers and brands are more successful when they can focus on the type of customer they can best please with the unique strengths they possess.

What is your brand stand for?