Your brand is all important. You need to think of how you are portraying yourself at all times. Here are five things businesses can do to make the most of their brand
Brands and branding are terms that are overused a lot in the business globally without people really understanding about them. Often, people feel that a logo is a brand and fail to understand the significance of having their brand become the bloodline of their business or their work persona.
The Design Council in the UK are clear, “These associations may be intentional – that is, they may be actively promoted via marketing and corporate identity for example, or they may be outside the company’s control. For example, a poor press review for a new product might harm the product manufacturer’s overall brand by placing negative associations in people’s minds.”
“Brands are best understood as drivers of business growth. So, the key first question in setting up a brand is to ask yourself what you are seeking to achieve, as a business, and then you can think of what role the brand can play in helping to achieve that,” says John Brash of Brash Brands.
The Design Council illustrate this concept by taking what is arguably the best-known product, or brand, in the world: Coca-Cola.
Although essentially just a soft drinks product, Coca-Cola the drink is eclipsed by the sheer might of Coca-Cola the brand. This phenomenon is best summed up by the following quote from a Coca-Cola executive, “If Coca-Cola were to lose all of its production-related assets in a disaster, the company would survive. By contrast, if all consumers were to have a sudden lapse of memory and forget everything related to Coca-Cola, the company would go out of business.”
The Design Council point out that in a 2007 survey of the value of global brands by branding agency Interbrand, Coca-Cola’s brand equity was valued at US$65.3bn, just under half the company’s true market value.
It’s all in the Mix
Brash suggests that, if you’re thinking about how to rebrand your business products or services, or if you want to assess where your brand stands at present, “Think about what you offer, the style of customer service you bring, and so on. What are the things that you think are most important to customers, and most different from what the competition offers?” You can use this to formulate the summary of your brand.
What’s The Big Idea?
The Big Idea is a summary of your business. What are you doing? How and why are you doing it? Include your USPs, how you present these and any other ingredient that you believe is pertinent that the wider public should know. This is the basis that will form everything that you do, from your customer service to how your promotional material should look. The colours that you will be including throughout the office/shop/staff uniforms/marketing literature to how you want your staff to address clients etc. The list is endless. You want the ‘Big Idea’ to permeate every area of your business so that your clients (both existing and potential), know instantly who you are and what you stand for.
The best way to establish your own Big Idea is to determine;
• How can you be seen?
• What is your offer?
• What makes you different?
• How should you behave?
• What do consumers want or need?
• Is there a gap in the market?
Once you have these answers you then need to try and test this, to make sure that you are right, “Speaking to customers/potential customers via formal research is one way. Failing that ask a few people from your target demographic what is important to them. Don’t make assumptions. It’s vital at this point to also take a good hard look at the competition and, if possible, to experience their products and services first hand. How different is your offer in reality? Are there any points of weakness that you can take advantage of to gain a competitive advantage? What are your company values?” says Brash.
People like to work with companies who have a similar ethics and values to them. Communicating these can be difficult and everyone has to buy into the company values in order for them to work. If you are offering a premium service at a premium price that your clientele accepts, then you can’t cheapen your service by providing substandard work, your brand will be damaged. As a company, you have to ensure that policies and procedures are in place so that this doesn’t happen.
For understanding vision, you need to ascertain what you want from the company. Where do you want to be in 1/3/5 years from now? What do you believe the market will be experiencing at the time? How can you transform the marketplace? Don’t be afraid to dream big or keep it a cottage industry. Regardless, you want your brand to reflect where you want to take it – Changing a brand at a later stage (rejuvenating it), is a costly and time-consuming process, so try as best as you can, to pre-empt what is likely to come at you so you get it right the first time around. “Finally, think about how things could change,” Suggests Brash “Would your offer still be relevant and different if a new competitor entered your marketplace? How future-proof is your idea?”
Being clear about where you want to be, means that you will easily navigate the route with which to take you there; all of which ties in nicely with your business plan. The Corporate Vision and Mission Statements are powerful tools that you can use to ensure that the message is spread downwards to all staff.
Your company’s vision and values can be conveyed to your clients in various ways. Your staff is the obvious people to portray this, to ensure that they use the terminology that you would like, dress appropriately etc. But this can also be portrayed through your marketing, with the language that you use as well as the design of the material. Think about whether or not you want your company to feel corporate and business-like (banks/lawyers) or personal and friendly (Counselor, Tutor, PR etc.). These will also go a long way to determine the culture and style of the business, which in turn will run down the whole country.
Brash sums this up completely, “Once you have considered these points, you have the makings of a brand positioning strategy and can start to move on to consider how best to deliver your brand. You should be clear about what you want to achieve and what you want people to think about you. At this point, it will also be important to tackle the somewhat thorny issue of naming. Any brand will need a name, but it can be extremely difficult to find one that’s available, so this needs to be considered early on. Think about where the brand is going to be tomorrow, but also where it might go in the future – say the next five years. It’s important the name and identity are free from legal issues in the sectors and markets into which the brand might realistically stretch.”
He continues, “Then, you can think about how best to create an experience around your brand.” He believes that you that concentrating on how should customers and other stakeholders experience the brand as well as how you can build relationships and loyalty are the two of the key questions to take your business further.