As a brand marketing firm that caters to franchises and multi-locations, we place a very high value on differentiation and creating a unique brand culture that sets a company apart and consistently reflects their values and personality in everything that they do. This way of thinking is how we’ve come to realize that the “client” label just isn’t a fit for what we do and who we serve-we find it to be an outdated cliché that can often serve to separate us from the “clients” that we are helping (see more about this concept in our post from a few weeks ago: http://www.designtheplanet.com/our-new-years-resolution-no-more-clients-in-2014/).

We knew that “client” wasn’t the right term for our partners in branding, so recently we sat down as a company to think more about what was. Our team decided that “core partner” was the perfect word to describe the people that we serve, because it’s on brand and aptly describes how we help. However, “core partner” is more than just a term to us-its a fresh new way of thinking about every aspect of our relationship with those that we help, from communication to service and all of the details in between.

 When we talked about transitioning our language from “client” to “core partner”, we didn’t just talk about incorporating the word itself-we talked about incorporating everything that embodies what a “core partnership” means to us. To us, the word “partner” implies everything we look for in our “clients”-a symbiotic, long-term relationship with room to grow and evolve together; one that fosters loyalty, mutual trust, accountability, respect, common goals, sharing, and a willingness to help one another succeed. That, in a nutshell, is the atmosphere and environment that we strive to achieve with every single one of our core partners, and we have vowed to put the old c-word aside forever in order to always keep the type of relationships that we want top of mind for both us and the people that we serve.

Now, how does this concept apply to your company? If you think you have more productive things to do than focus your time and energy on “touchy-feely” things like determining your ideal business partner and the relationship that you seek to cultivate with them, think again. Your team’s understanding of your target market and how to communicate with them is DIRECTLY correlated to your ROI, your working environment, and your brand reputation. Why? Knowing whom you want to work with (and whom you don’t) allows you to devote your resources and talents to learning about and better serving that specific group, making you more effective at winning new business and keeping it long-term.

Your “client” base is a huge part of your internal and external success, and spending some time with your team strategizing how to cultivate the relationship you want with the type of people you want to work with is a great way to define who you currently are and help you get to where you want to be.