How to Create a Strong and Effective Brand for Your Business
July 22, 2014
Creating a strong brand will differentiate you from the crowd. It will make you stand out from your competitors and your customers will identify themselves to your products or business in an engaging way. It also creates loyalty that leads to the establishment of trust and connection between you and your customers.
If I asked you to think of a brand, Nike, Apple, or Prada might cross your mind. This kind of thinking disenfranchises most small businesses, however they can also create and develop a strong brand of their own.
You may think that developing a strong brand may require a huge amount of money. A strong brand for a SME (small-to-medium sized business) can be built with relatively little expense because branding is all about perception created in the minds in the minds of your staff, stakeholders and most importantly your clients. This is based on what they see, feel, hear, smell, and touch about your services, and your business as a whole.
A brand is basically about the promise offered to customers and how you deliver these promises.
While in the process of creating a strong brand, it is important to know your target audience and your primary message. You must be able to identify these components before you start creating your brand. These should be part of your business plan.
Top things to consider:
Target audience (male/female, age range, type of person etc)
Does your business fit in the local or international market?
Is your business based on cost or quality?
Who are your competitors (locally, nationally and internationally)?
Identify your competitors
Does your business (SME) need a brand?
From the very beginning when you start your business it has already a certain brand or personality. Your customers and suppliers may have already formulated an impression about your business. This is done through simple business practices or customer service related activities like phone calls, emails etc. This kind of simple branding is done through deep level thinking, a subconscious perception which is maybe working with you or against you.
Once you realised that you already have an existing brand formulated by opinions, you must start to take control of the brand and create it to become strong and positive.
What are the Starting Points in Brand Creation?
Over the years more businesses realise the true power of product branding. To demonstrate the power of a certain brand, let’s take cola as an example. If you think about it, you will surely associate cola with Coca Cola or Pepsi Cola.
The question is, what can you do to make your brand strong and powerful in the market?
The Cola Effect
You must first take a good look at yourself and your business. You must spend time on this aspect because this will pay off later. Take down notes and research is the key to effective and powerful branding. They call this a “brand audit” or “brand view” in the branding/marketing industry.
Survey the opinions of your clients, suppliers or any other individual outside your company who are familiar with your brand. Write down their perception. This really matters because they can provide you an outsider’s view of your brand, which will add to the depth of your review in creating a powerful brand.
Next step is to survey your staff and see if they agree with you or if their perception coincides with the outsider's view of your brand. If the perception is 99% different then create a new message, and make it clear.
Tip: Include your staff and stakeholders in your brand review, allowing them to share criticisms; this will encourage them to help you make the necessary changes, and will create loyalty and confidence in the team.
During your brand review there are several key questions you need to ask to the members of your team:
What are the strengths of your company?
Can you honestly point out your personal strength and weaknesses as well as your staff?
What is the opinion of your customers or suppliers to your business? Ask them!
What are the key words that best describe your business? (also ask other business owners locally)
Is there a pattern in your client-base? (demographic)
What is your target consumer? (you're maybe targeting 18-24 year old consumers but your client base are all 40 -odd… why?)
Who would you like to work with in the short-term, and long-term? (audience wise)
Finally, Can you identify the missing link in your business? Things
Constructing a Brand Review
Are you able to get the answers to your questions? Compare your notes and once you already have more answers on hand, you’ll be able to get a clearer brand review.
Since you’ve already identified the different perceptions of your brand, you can now start to make a realistic plan. Avoid becoming idealistic by trying to compare it with what’s already available in the market. Remember you are your own business and you want to be recognised and stand out in the market!
Development of Brand Values
After your leg work, it’s time for you to develop your brand values and brand commitments. It is ideal for you to have three outstanding core values. Two of which should be based on difference brokers, and the third is the over- all value. There is no benefit in having pages of unworkable brand values, you’ll never remember them. Forget the long list - Revive Projects always advocate for its client's to be concise and straight forward.
Core Overall Brand Values – these are the values which your business must have to operate within a given market.
As an example lets look at cafés – the core brand values maybe are as simple as being clean (both staff and equipment), quality food and good end user cost – most cafés will have similar values.
Difference Broker Brand Values – these are the values on the other side of the chain. These values make your business unique and special. Define your difference between your competitors. Your “brand promises” and “brand values” are the foundations to which you will base your brand. They are the most vital aspects of your brand development.
Your logo is your brand identity - your visual identifier. Sometimes they refer to it as corporate identity which allows your audience to recognise and associate it with your business. You can place your logo in everything that pertains to your business to create a message.
Moving your brand forward is very important for your business. Your employees and shareholders will help you in this long term process in pushing your brand to move forward because you share one common interest - to attain success for the business. They will make sure that you’re on the right track.
Another thing to consider is that your customers are your best brand builders as long as you deliver the promises you made in your advertisements. Their word of mouth advertisement is more powerful than media, since it is based through experience. And most importantly your customer’s word of mouth PR or advertisement is free of charge.
Your customer interaction as mentioned above is the primary key for your brand to evolve. Their feedback should be effectively utilised. This will show your brand progress and will help you identify what the market wants every month, or every year.
To help your brand evolve you should do the following:
Review your competitor’s techniques. Identify their mistakes, and strengths.
If you notice a problem from any of your customer, attend to their needs
Review every aspect of your business regularly
Note that along the way you may lose some customers that do not fit with your company values. Always remember to constantly review the reasons of these incidents or situations as part of your market research strategy.
The Living Brand
You should now realise that a brand is the life of every business. If you love your business and you are attached to it, we believe that your brand and everything that revolves around it is your heart and soul
Think about this, every business started from nothing (even Revive Projects!). All big brands started from an idea which slowly developed and were nurtured to growth by their business owners. Believe in what you can do! You can make your brand a living one, continuously growing towards success.
Revive Projects' final bits of advice are quite simple; You must find your place in this highly competitive market. You and your team should decide which direction you want your brand to go in.
By using these techniques you can create a unique and competitive brand as an SME that will stand out in the market.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!