Hardly anyone needs to think about what this represents:
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 popular 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.
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
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.
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?
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 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s, Mercedes-Benz limousines were the vehicles of choice for many heads of state and the wealthy. Even Popes have long been associated with them. Virtually all the rich guys in the movies had Benzes.
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.
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?
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 4Ps 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.
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. Here’s a brief comparison for Pepsi and Coca-Cola.
You will also understand why two similar companies target different customers and how it is that they can make most of their sales in different seasons. Here’s another Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi analysis.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?