Branding is just as important for SME’s as it is for big names. Some corporate brands try to look more like small firms in order to appeal to consumers that prefer to support independent brands.
The link between successful businesses and strong branding is key, it is not just a logo or how a business is perceived. Branding is a way of defining a business. It could be called the business’ “identity”, but only on the understanding that it embodies the core of what the business is and its values, not just what it looks and sounds like. Customers today are savvy and they can see through most attempts by companies to gloss, spin or charm their way to sales.
The benefits that a strategically defined brand can bring are the same as when people like each other. When customers connect emotively, it’s because they share the same values and beliefs of a brand, leading to higher sales and better brand differentiation. It also means loyalty, advocacy and can even protect against price sensitivity in times when competitors might rely on promotional discounts to drive sales.
So with this is mind, how can a brand be implemented successfully? Here’s a few factors to consider.
Define the brand
Review the product or services, pinpoint the space in the market it occupies and research the emotive and rational needs, wants and concerns of customers and prospects alike. Brand character should promote the business, connect with customers and prospects and differentiate from the rest of the market.
Think of it as a person
People are individuals whose character is made up of beliefs and values with the purpose of defining them. Their personality determines how they behave in different situations, how they dress and what they say. For people it’s intuitive and it’s rare that they consider what their own character is, but when building a brand it’s vital to have that understanding.
What is driving the business
What the business believe in, what is the purpose and who the brand heroes are is critical to understand. Detailing these help establish emotive brand positioning and inform the identity and character for brand communications.
Don’t repeat the same message in the same way over and over again
Aim to make key messages work together to build a coherent identity.
The old way of stamping a logo on everything just won’t work
The future of branding is fluid and engaging, respect customers’ intelligence, generate some intrigue and allow them to unearth more about the brand. This is the way to gain ambassadors who revel in telling other people what they have discovered.
Be bold and daring, stand for something important
Big brands are sometimes encumbered by large layers of bureaucracy, which could prevent them from being flexible and reacting to the ever-changing needs of their customers. This can make it hard for them to be daring with their branding and presents an opportunity for other organisations in how to position themselves.
Don’t try to mimic big brands
Try and carve out a distinctive identity as unique as possible. There is a trend towards independent establishments, and chains trying to mimic the feel of an independent to capture some of that market. Truly independent operators can leverage their status to attract customers who are looking for something more original and authentic.
Speak to people with a consistent tone
It will help reinforce the business’s character and clarify in its offering so customers are aware exactly what to expect from the product or service.
Aim to build long-term relationships
Don’t dress up the offering and raise expectations higher than what is achievable. This could result in broken promises and affect the brand perception negatively. Create trust with honest branding, be clear who the company is and be true to the values that drive it every day.
Always consider branding when sending communications
Don’t dilute brand positioning with indiscriminate discounting. Try offering more and better value for money, rather than slashing prices. Promotions are an opportunity to reinforce the brand mission.