Of course you want your business to be the first choice of consumers, what successful business doesn’t? Building and managing your brand will play a significant role in making that happen. Your branding goes far beyond your company logo or your company’s core values. The brand you create and maintain is your reputation and it reflects your company’s customer experience or lack thereof.
The customers and employees of your company can and often do have emotional attachments to certain brands, Apple and Samsung are great examples of that. This allows for strong loyalties and sometimes even a sense of ownership (think of professional sports and their branding). This can also be a double edged sword sometimes, it can help maintain employee motivation and increase sales, but changes without consulting these stakeholders as you grow your business can also ruin their image of your company and its products or services. Your brand is what you really sell your customers, not just products or services. The stronger your brand, the more likely you are to stand out to the consumer, especially in competitive markets.
Effective branding is promoting your strengths and what your company believes in. Think about what you are good at, what does your company do that is better or offer over the next company in your market. You must always be able to deliver on your promises using the strengths of your company; this is often referred to as your brand values. Consumers want what they want and it’s up to your company to match those requirements. You need to know what drives your customers and what makes them buy. In most cases it has little to do with price or performance. Get to know your customers, ask them why they like doing business with your company. Reach out to potential new customers and find out what it is they are looking for in a company, product or service.
Make sure your employees understand and know your company’s core values by creating standard operating procedures (SOP’s) that outline these values, also include benchmarks on how you wish to operate and seen to operate, also lay out what you want to achieve as a company. In order to build and maintain your brand, you must focus on the consumer, what do they want and how do you guarantee you deliver it. You must be consistent day in and day out in your customer service and every point of contact with them, be it emails, phone calls, letters etc.
Things to consider when building your brand are:
- Your company name
- Slogans you may use
- Your logo
- Location of your company
- Your website
- How you and your employees dress and behave
- Pricing and packaging of your products
- Name of your services or products
- Quality and style of your stationary
If you keep all these things in line with your company’s core values consistently your brand will grow and be strengthened. If you fail to do this it can seriously damage your company’s brand reputation.
Your brand should be incorporated in all areas of your company from your stationary to how you deliver your product and/or services. Set a budget for building and maintaining your brand. A budget will force you to focus and prioritize your spending on what in necessary for your branding efforts.
Areas to consider for budgeting are:
- Design needs (logo, stationary, packaging etc.)
- Website (both building it and maintaining it)
- Time for development of SOP’s
- Any resources needed to help employees carry out brand promises
Not everything has to be done at once. As long as employees understand your company’s core values and branding and they deliver on those brand values and promises, your company has a great chance at success.
Keep in mind that going cheap on the development of your brand when creating your logos, stationary, packaging and advertising now and then trying to change it later could prove costly. Your consumers could have already built an attachment and relationship with your brand, which could prove problematic when trying to change it.