Faced with a selection, you and nearly everyone else opts for the safe choice. And the safe choice is the one you’ve heard of (awareness), the one that makes you feel good (emotional connection), the one with uniquely positive attributes (distinction), and the one you can rely on (credibility and trust)
A brand is what comes to your mind when you think of a product or service whether or not you are a customer. Branding triggers associations in the mind. A brand that is not established will not be recognised while a brand that is, will evoke emotions. Often it is not clear to non-marketers what the difference between marketing and branding is. Branding is a pull aspect while marketing involves pushing a product or service to potential clients to buy. This is because branding communicates the characteristics, values and attributes of a product, service or business while marketing is actively promoting a product or service to drive sales.Sales strategies combine both pull and push strategies to get the prospective client to pay for a product.
While small business owners may not think much about branding, in this digital age, branding is essential for both large and small businesses. The need for branding is even more important for SMEs that offer niche services and products in a distinguished market e.g. Luxury goods and services. This is because the overall market size is small and the need for one’s brand to be recognised is crucial; market position and maintaining market share becomes more important than with a less differentiated business.
To get to the point of being a well established and recognised brand there is a need to work on your brand. Note that, whether or not you actively work on your brand, people who come into contact with your business will brand it; associate their experience with your organisation, services or products with certain emotions; good or bad. These will last depending on how you work on managing your brand. In this article, we discuss branding and how you can start working on your brand and the benefits of doing so.
When to Brand Your Business
Branding can be expensive and its timing and execution should be right so as to get the most benefit from your branding efforts. The best times to launch or polish your brand are when:
Opening a new business;
Be ready to project your brand image from the first second that you throw open the company doors, hook up the phone lines, or launch your Web site.
Introducing a new product;
a new product when well branded at launch will be remembered based on the brand you create, you have to decide whether the product you’re introducing will enter the market under your business brand or as its own brand, with or without a visible link to your business brand.
Fundraising for a non-profit;
successful fundraising campaigns operate under the auspices of well-known, well-regarded, well-branded organizations. Before your organisation launches a fundraising campaign, establish credibility and trust by first building a brand image for your organization that prospective donors know and believe in.
Taking your business public;
investors direct dollars into businesses that they trust to be well-led, innovative, successful, and capable of rising to even higher levels of growth and profitability.Going global; some businesses want to sell in international markets. Others want to establish themselves as global companies with operating presences in a range of countries. When moving to new geographical locations, it is important to establish the perception you want to create as you enter the market.
Raising venture capital;
venture capitalists are investors who look to invest in companies with strong leadership, strong business concepts, and strong positions in growing market areas. A well-developed brand is part of this.
Merging with another business;
businesses merge, but there’s really no such thing as a brand merger. Combining Brand A with Brand B doesn’t result in Brand A+B. It either results in a retooled version of Brand A, a retooled version of Brand B, or an all-new Brand C. Dedicate extra time, effort and dollars to gain complete understanding and buy-in from the staff of both organisations before you take the retooled brand or the new brand public.
The Benefits of Branding
- Branding results in customer loyalty. It helps potential customers recall your service or product when they are ready to buyIn a crowded market, branding ensures your product stands out / is picked in a supermarket shelf
- The process of building your brand ensures you understand your customers and target market well
- Branding increases your chances of developing future products and services that meet the core need of your customersOverall, branding increases the chances of growing your business and
- Improving market positioning. Good branding, in the long run, will save on marketing costs
- These are just but a few of the benefits of branding which are amplified when combined with other marketing strategies.
The type of brand you choose guides your business decisions. Different types of brands suit different products and services, and will appeal to different customers profiles. Brands may be concept brands i.e. designed to support and promote an idea, or commodity brands, which are associated with a product or service. Below are some types brands /branding.
is based on feelings and not the physical attributes of a product for example in branding for soft drinks (coke) and sportswear (Nike)
also focuses on feelings but is used more for services than products e.g. banks and phone companies. Emphasis is on emotions such as a sense of security or trust to attract and retain customers.
focuses on the physical characteristics of a product or service i.e. the reasons why someone should buy a product or service. This trickles down to its unique offering, value for money or performance.
This branding takes the retailers name. Examples are like in supermarket chains or with small boutique businesses e.g. a celebrity or beautician may develop products in their brand name and capitalise on the reputation they have built over the years. These are also referred to as private labels or store brands.
Brand architecture is the structure of branding in an organisation; how different brands in a parent organisation relate with each other, are differentiated and support. Examples of brand structure (architecture) are as below:
Corporate brand, umbrella brand, and family brand; some business will have one brand name and sub-brands that are associated with the parent brand. E.g. Jumia, Virgin Group, Heinz and sub-brands include Jumia Nigeria, Virgin Trains or Heinz Cream
Endorsed brands; Other businesses choose to give each of their products and services a separate brand with the endorsement of the parent brand e.g. Nestle KitKat, Cadbury Dairy Milk, Sony PlayStation, Apple IPad or Polo by Ralph Lauren.
Individual product brand; in this case, individual products have a strong brand with hardly any recognition of the parent brand. For example Proctor & Gamble’s Pampers or Unilever’s Dove. This architecture makes it possible to launch new brands in the same product line in an apparent competition so that they can gain extra market share.
The process of branding or re-branding requires that you carefully think through what you want to achieve with your branding strategy. It eventually results in a branding manual that acts as a guide for the branding. Once you have decided on what branding you want to develop it is time to come up with a strategy that will help you meet your branding objective. Below are the steps you should consider;
Understanding and discovery;
At this stage you will be looking at data about your industry and business. A good understanding of your industry will enable you to make informed choices based on an understanding of what the market will embrace. It is also important to get clear data on your current customers and their experiences, your range of products and services, the organisations culture and history. Understanding the markets’ perception of your business, its services and the product range and how it interacts with these will enable you to make informed decisions as you proceed with coming up with your branding strategy. The competitor landscape is also important for you to get a good understanding of your market positioning and how you can improve this.
Articulating and clarifying;
the information above will enable you to articulate the brand you want to build moving forward. If any of the current aspects of your business does not meet what your objectives for your business are, it is important that at this stage that you clarify exactly how this is not met and what needs to be addressed. Define your core values, brand attributes, strengths and weaknesses, the opportunities available and the threats you may face, cast a picture of what you want for the future for your brand, your target audience and the market as well as what differentiates you from your competition and the competitive advantage you have. All this will result in a clear articulation of the story you will be communicating in your branding.
Positioning and differentiating;
Your unique value proposition is what your audience will remember, and come to you for. It shows your uniqueness and the value they actually pay for or the reason they choose you as opposed to your competition and this will result in your unique positioning.
Identifying and creating;
At this stage, you create your brand plan. The brand plan or bible covers your company name, Logo, tagline, URL, narrative, personality, voice and tone, the key messages to communicate, visual style (colour pallets, font and graphic standards ) as well as products and services. You will need the services of experts at this stage. Keep an open mind to their suggestions.
At this stage you execute what you have created in the following ways;
- The environment; through customer experience, employee behaviour and brand manifesto
- Online and mobile; through your website, email, video, social media and mobile Apps
- Word of mouth; interviews and events and social interactions
- Branding of company material; stationery, signage, vehicles, packaging, trade show banners, advertising, ephemera. Standards for this are put in your branding manual that has been created in stage 4 abovePublic relations; this involves what will be communicated especially in media and during events that would result in your and your teams members appearance in public media
- Training; of staff to ensure they understand and effectively use the brand guidelines and behave in a way that reflects your brand attributes
The execution of your branding plan will require that you prioritise the actual activities so you move steadily towards executing your goals.
Prioritising your branding Goals
To ensure execution, your business’s brand to-do list should be prioritised. Determine the priority order of your branding goals as you may be limited in resources when implementing. Brand goals include;
Awareness is what results in marketplace dominance, making selling easier. It acts as a proxy for your business and goes where you can’t for example through your logo or coming into memory when a prospect thinks of a service you offer.Creating an emotional connection; If your customers select your offering based largely on how they feel about owning your product or associating with your business, then creating an emotional connection needs to be an important part of your branding strategy.
Differentiating your product;
When customers understand why your offering is different and better than all competing products, they have a clear reason to buy from you, and you have a secure market position.
Creating credibility and trust;
In any branding strategy, plan to establish or enhance credibility and trust. Branding is about the reputation that results from the promises you made and have kept consistently. The brand fails on this two counts: credibility and trust.
Brands are like great advance teams in that they establish interest, appeal, confidence, preference, and purchase motivation in a customer’s mind before your product ever enters the arena.
Branding activities include but are not limited to;
Conduct market research to identify key economic, demographic and statistical information about your industry. Consider the size of the market and who your potential customers are.Working out your competitive advantage.
You can start developing your brand by considering the story of your business – how it started, what you hope to achieve, who you hope to appeal to. Your story should be a key component of your brand.
Getting a great logo;
Get a good designer for your logo.Branding messages; What are the key messages you want to communicate about your brand? Every employee should be aware of your brand attributes.
Integrating your brand;
Branding is about more than just a logo. It should encompass every aspect of your business. Branding extends to every aspect of your business; how you answer your phones, what you or your salespeople wear on sales calls, your e-mail signature and vehicle branding.
Create a “voice” for your company that reflects your brand;
This voice should be applied to all written communication and incorporated in the visual imagery of all materials, online and off. Is your brand friendly? Be conversational. Is it ritzy? Be more formal. You get the gist.
Develop a tagline;
Write a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand.Design templates and create brand standards for your marketing materials; Use the same colour scheme, logo placement, look and feel throughout. You don’t need to be fancy, just consistent.Be true to your brand; Customers won’t return to you or refer you if you don’t deliver on your brand promise.
I placed this point last only because it involves all of the above and is the most important tip I can give you. If you can’t do this, your attempts at establishing a brand will fail.
Branding with content;
This involves not just stamping your logo on every document you send out but creating content that communicates your unique product offering in a way that your target market can relate.
Budgeting for Brand Building
When building a brand, it is important to work within a budget or you could spend way much more than you would want to. To ensure you stay within a budget decide on the branding activities you will be involved in and consider the following budget variables:
Own time and Expertise;
You may be able to research, define, and determine the assets for your brand yourself. The extent to which your brand will venture; If your brand will travel far from your home office and, therefore, will represent you when you’re nowhere to be found, you need to make a sizeable investment in branding.
If you intend to compete with established, well-known, superbly branded companies or organizations, invest in a brand that’s up to the task.
While you assemble your budget, assign costs for each of the following three phases of the branding process:
Strategic development and positioning;
This phase involves market research, brand identity research, and development of the positioning and branding strategies you’ll follow to reach the branding success you seek.
Creation of brand identity elements;
In this phase, professionals are worth their weight in gold. When it comes to creating, selecting, and protecting your name; designing your logo; devising your tagline; and developing the core marketing materials that will carry your brand into the marketplace, hire the best talent for the job.
Implementation of your brand strategy;
Branding and marketing aren’t separate in terms of message or money. Your brand strategy becomes the foundation for your marketing strategy.
Do you need help with any aspect of your branding? Use the contact form right and we will sort you out.