Hardly anyone needs to think about what this represents:

Just about everyone alive today knows about Coca-Cola...

Just about everyone alive today knows about Coca-Cola…

Nevertheless, successful branding is about so much more than a lovely logo and iconic slogans.

Effective branding has a broader definition; it is what people expect from any sort of interaction they have with a company.

Again, think about Coca-Cola.

What is it that you expect when you visit the company website, check out a new ad, decide to try a new product, or sample what they have going on social media?

Clearly, you have some sort of expectation when you think about everything Coca-Cola. You perceive Coca-Cola uniquely. This is what effective branding aims to achieve.

Wherever and however you encounter an iconic brand you sort of know what to expect...

Wherever and however you encounter an iconic brand you sort of know what to expect…

Memorable brand experiences don’t just happen. Lots of creating and reinforcing happens over time before a great brand is established.

Great brands like this...

Great brands like this…

Whatever you associate with household names like McDonald’s, Starbucks, Adidas, Mercedes-Benz, Rolex, and so on, is as a result of well thought out strategic plans implemented over time.

...and this have been established over a long period of time

…and this have been established over a long period of time

As a small business owner today it is okay to admire and envy how easy it is for big brands to make an impact on the market.

But you can create a big brand too!

Maybe you won’t grow as big as Facebook or Twitter but you can perhaps become the market leader in your target market niche. You can become the first name that comes to mind when people think about, say, wedding photography, handmade shoes, complementary toiletries, etc.

Are you ready to create a brand? I’ll tell you about branding strategy.

1. Defining Brand Strategy and Brand Equity

Brand strategy covers everything related to the communication and delivery of your brand messages.

Here you think about:

  • Who you are targeting
  • Where to find and reach your target audience
  • When you can best reach this audience
  • What message you have for your audience, and,
  • How all of this can be best implemented

All of this requires strategy.

Facebook's brand strategy is rather straightforward

Facebook’s brand strategy is rather straightforward

Developing a workable brand strategy calls for good thinking, persistent effort and patience. After proving the effectiveness of your strategy you’ll just need to tweak it as required.

Brand equity

A consistent application of brand strategy over time adds value to your company’s products/services.

Going back to Coca-Cola, it is common knowledge that this brand towers above the competition.

Think about it. If the price of Coke is increased won’t people just keep on drinking it?

People have and will continue to drink Coca-Cola...

Thanks to its superior brand equity, people have and will continue to drink Coca-Cola…

This added value associated with Coca-Cola and other super brands is referred to as brand equity.

The power of brand equity is reinforced day after day by notions of emotional attachment or perceived quality and this substantially influences how marketing is done.

For example, in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, Mercedes-Benz limousines were the vehicles of choice for many heads of state and the wealthy. Even the Pope rode in one. All the rich guys in the movies had Benzes.

Mercedes-Benz limousines have long been the car of choice for many of the wealthy

Mercedes-Benz limousines have long been the car of choice for many of the wealthy

It’s not in doubt that these cars are built to very high standards – many other cars are too. However, thanks to the perceived extra value linked with this brand, many successful people aspired to own Benzes. They became status symbols.

2. What is your brand about? Define it.

Before a brand is created all the elements it will be comprised of have to be defined.

While there’s much to consider, answering these questions will get you started:

  • What is your brand’s mission? Think about what your company has set out to do.
  • What is your brand’s vision? Think about where you want to be in the future.
  • What is your brand’s story? Think about why and how the company was founded.
  • What are your product’s or service’s features?
  • What benefits accrue from using your product or service?
  • How is your company perceived by its customers and prospects?
  • What qualities do you want your business to be associated with?
Do you know the story behind this brand?

Do you know the story behind this brand?

You can answer the first four questions yourself but to get the rest right you have to do some market research.

Don’t make conclusions based on your own assumptions. Ideally, the basis of your research should be the 4 P’s of marketing i.e. Price, Product, Promotion and Place.

Analyzing the 4 P’s is quite straightforward though because there’s nothing really unique; you can even do this for your competitors businesses and vice versa.

Nevertheless, it is your positioning in the market that makes you truly unique and different from another business that offers a similar product or service.

There are plenty of good watches but many people would want to own a Rolex. This is definitely a well positioned brand.

There are plenty of good watches but many people would want to own a Rolex. This is definitely a well positioned brand.

Accordingly, ask yourself why a prospect or repeat customer will choose your product/service and not another.

Is the decision influenced by:

  • Your superior quality of workmanship?
  • Your consistent adherence to deadlines?
  • Your overall competence as opposed to being a specialist in one aspect of the whole?

Answering these questions will enable you to appreciate your unique positioning in the market.

From the informed conclusions you arrive at you will better understand why and how two companies selling the same product have different ways of packaging, pricing and advertising.

Would you buy this phone...

Would you buy this phone…

...or this one?

…or this one?

You will also understand why these two companies target different customers and how it is that they make most of their sales in different seasons.

With these concepts in mind you can now define your brand.

3. Brand development comes next

After you have successfully defined your brand you need to develop it i.e. make it tangible.

You need to create the following:

a. A logo – Design a great symbol to represent your company. The best logos are easy to visualize and remember. It is worth consulting a graphic designer; have him/her come up with several options and then choose a winner. There are lots of talented artists out there, let them do their thing.

A well designed and unique logo is particularly memorable

A well designed and unique logo is particularly memorable

b. A slogan – Similar to the logo, the slogan should be unique, short, sweet and memorable. Your slogan should ideally present your product/service as a unique solution to your customers’ requirements.

The ideal slogan is short, sweet and memorable

The ideal slogan is short, sweet and memorable

c. Imagery – People really love the visual side of things. Pictures of your workplace, friendly staff, happy clients, tasty-looking burgers or chocolate-chip cookies, etc, will help to strengthen your brand image.

Images greatly reinforce a brand's message in peoples minds

Images greatly reinforce a brand’s message in peoples minds

d. Language – How you use the written word should match the manner in which your brand speaks to the audience.

Imagery and language should ideally combine to create a unique “voice” for your company that will instantly deliver the same effect regardless of where and how the brand message is communicated.

e. A theme – A consistent theme is crucial for your brand’s success. Many top brands have down the years adopted new logos and slogans but because the theme has persisted the target audience is quickly won over. Your marketing materials and ad design templates should ideally feature the same color scheme and placement of logo and slogan.

Coca Cola's logo and slogans have changed over the years but the theme has been persistent...no wonder it's always familiar...

Coca Cola’s logo and slogans have changed over the years but the theme has been persistent…no wonder it’s always familiar…

f. Brand integration – Ensure that your brand permeates every aspect of your company’s operations. Let your brand stand out in your employees’ attire, your website pages, financial documents, ads and banners, networking efforts, corporate social responsibility projects, etc. Always maintain high standards to avoid eroding the value of your brand in your target audience’s eyes.

All the successful companies you can think of have strong brands that we easily and instantly identify with. We associate top brands with the best products and services the market has to offer. How would you describe your small business’ positioning? How have you used this uniqueness to develop your brand?

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Comments
  1. Yash Birajdar says:

    Hey Samuel,

    Great Post I Must Say. You have inspired me with your awesome blog post. It is My first visit to your blog and it will not be the last I Promise you that.

    Keep Writing and Keep Smiling

    Like

  2. Hi Samuel,

    Good to be over at your blog. 🙂

    I’m impressed by the detailed and well presented post. You’ve dealt with the strategy of branding in great depth and diversity.

    Though you are talking about the small business brands, I can say that in blogging, you can successfully brand yourself with blog commenting. Comments are visible to people and make repeated impression in the minds of the reader. It’s good to have a good logo and impressive slogan, but you can even use your personality to brand yourself.

    Understanding your customers and demands and then reinforcing your relevant creatives works over time. Your products’ and business success could start with a carefully planed branding strategy.

    Thanks for sharing this with us at the ABC. Have a ice week ahead 🙂

    Like

    • Hi Harleena,

      Thanks for your time on my blog, I’m glad you found the post helpful.

      Speaking of blog commenting, I must confess that a little while ago I didn’t think too much about it. I however decided to give it a try on LinkedIn’s Pulse and the results were delightful. Commenting adds the human aspect to blogging…I’m a believer now! You’re also right about using one’s personality as a brand; I think everyone can agree with me that you excel in this regard.

      Have a nice week too!

      Like

  3. […] to proceed just ensure that the name is easy to pronounce and write down. Coupled with effective branding, your product/service will very soon no longer be associated with outer […]

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  4. […] integrity; deception and tricks can only get you so far. Let the quality of your work market your business brand. Prospects will be better convinced to come onboard if they know exactly what to expect from your […]

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  5. Acton Ace says:

    hi,

    With advancement in Technology, Customer now prefers social media. Thus Maintaining relationship with customer has become more exasperating than ever. Social media, content marketing, the younger generation, second screening, thought-leadership and the demographic shift are just some of the many things that are challenging brands to think differently. Holding market share is most challenging with lot of competition in the market, the product have to evolve from Being an on-trend, relevant, inspiring, purposeful, innovative and community-centric brand to get customer attention. Branding has become most prominent as it pulls the customer towards the product & lays the foundation for marketing. Thus it’s important to make strategies for Effective Branding. Here Mentioning Brand strategies that Chief Marketing Officers must not ignore.
    • Being Creative about how the brand engages with customer. Giving your customer the variety & surprise as they would surely love to see. This would give your brand a required refresh, be very frequent like every year other customer stops losing interest. Remember as every brand is venerable never take customer for granted.
    • Being Relatable by the customer by being straightforward & telling about what your product will do while at the same time maintaining forward thinking. Simple approach should be followed things shouldn’t become complicated for the customer.
    • Brand should influence the people state of mind with messaging that is educational and applicable. In order to earn the customer trust and loyalty a holistic approach should be followed while branding. That is why content marketing is so important and must be flawlessly executed to be effective.
    AGC founder Alan Gavornik https://goo.gl/6QmScw maintains hands on expertise in the areas of corporate formation and start up, capital round financing, growth and expansion initiatives, sales and marketing, and exit strategies. This business prowess is further enhanced by AGC network of industry experts which are available to compliment an engagement as needed.

    Like

    • Hi,

      Thanks for sharing some valid points about the role of effective branding for business success. You’re right – branding requires creative thinking and it should all be focused toward a carefully thought out target audience.

      Like

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