Branding has never been as important as it is today. Now that it is considered a significant mainstream management activity, businesses require a clear brand and corporate image in order for their customers to understand what they stand for.
The notion of brand purpose is especially important when marketing to millennials, 71% of whom say they prefer brands that drive social and environmental change.
So, what is a brand?
Most people probably think about the colour, font, symbol or tagline of a business. But there is actually a lot more than meets the eye. Put simply, effective branding can make or break a business.
A brand can be a valuable asset if done right. Look at Coca Cola, who has successfully put the focus on the brand rather than its product over the course of its history. In 2018, their brand value amounted to 57.3 billion dollars, and they were the only non-tech brand in the top seven of Forbes’ top 100 list.
A brand is primarily a mental creation, which helps consumers to understand a company over another. This is necessary to make sense of what has become a competitive market in general.
In the following article, we give you four tips on how to grow your brand.
1.) Do your research and analysis
When it comes down to who you are targeting with your branding, there are a few things you need to consider.
Decide what your brand stands for and who it’s trying to speak to. Always try and tailor the personality of your company towards the target audience. For example, a high-end clothing store with wealthy customers shouldn’t be promoting cut-price stock or heavy discounts, as it would be moving away from the demands of its customers.
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback either. Ask for feedback from your clients when they purchase a product, and keep track of what they say, or consider inviting your clients to fill out a form or survey in exchange for a gift, discount, or freebie.
Why not take a look at what your competitors are doing, but see how you differ and put your own unique spin on things? Make sure you know your customer inside out too, making yourself relatable to your target audience and matching the characteristics you wish to embody.
While you’re analysing your competitors, you should also be looking for ways to fill the gaps that they’ve missed with their marketing campaigns.
Finally, evaluate where you stand in terms of your company’s place in the market. Are you a challenger who are not necessarily the number one in your sector, but also not a niche player? If this sounds like you, you should be thinking about how you’re going to outsmart your competition.
Or are you a disruptor brand, who is trying to change the game by frequently changing the product to disrupt a market rather than merely the promotion, pricing or distribution strategy.
2.) Define your brand
If, like us here at Great Annual Savings (GAS), you are a B2B company, you need to focus on more than just the companies who are likely to buy your product.
Consider your core idea, which is what the business stands for and believes in. What is the purpose? What is the goal and what are you trying to achieve? You may sell a similar if not identical product as one of your competitors, but it’s how you use your company’s history, heritage and ethos to shape your image into something that your customer can relate and buy in to.
Boasting a unique core idea will help you create a competitive advantage and set you apart in the industry. It will also help you articulate your messaging and develop your visual identity.
This idea needs to be reflected in your tone of voice, which is the personality of your brand or company as expressed through the written word. If your company was a person, what would they be like? Keep it simple and stick to three maximum values. For example, an IT support company may decide that their tone of voice should be knowledgeable, reliable and proactive.
An effective way to help you understand your brand further is to create a brand wheel, which essentially breaks your ethos down into five categories: attributes, benefits, values, personality and essence. It’s a branding exercise that can help you define who you are and can ultimately enable you to discover your purpose and create something your audience loves.
Attributes: High level information about your company.
Benefits: The benefits you as a service or product provider give your employees get.
Values: What your company promotes and celebrates.
Personality: The working style of your business and the core personality traits that your employees possess.
Essence: The core of who you are as business and what you believe in.
Above: The GAS brand wheel.
In order to build the right image for YOUR business, perhaps the one word which needs to be scrutinised more than any other is consistency. There needs to be a level of symmetry across the core elements of an organisation to maximise brand recognition.
Those core elements are fundamentally the products, environment, behaviour and communication, all of which are required to be consistent in performance, purpose and appearance.
While this may sound a little jargon heavy, it’s actually relatively straightforward. In essence, we are talking about using the same colours, logos, slogans and messages across all your platforms. Look at your business, no matter what the sector, and decide the core idea.
3.) Enforce your brand
According to research by IBM, 80% of employees felt more engaged when their work was consistent with the core values and mission of their organisation—showing that if employees feel connected to your culture, they’ll be more likely to become powerful brand ambassadors.
Employee brand ambassadors are well-positioned to act as the bridge between a company and potential customers. In order to get your staff up to speed, you first need to make sure they are engaged. Put on an interactive session or use existing training and communications programs like intranets or leadership development programs. Effective internal communications is essential in driving employee engagement.
The next step is to set brand related goals and objectives for your employees. This will keep them thinking about their roles in building the corporate brand, and once they fully understand the brand and are sufficiently engaged, they will naturally deliver value every day.
Employees need to know that they play a big part in effectively representing your brand. People will no doubt associate how an employee reacts, speaks and acts and see that as a reflection of the brand.
Think about using your environment as a branding touchpoint too. A branded environment has the potential to create a long-lasting impression for your intended audiences. You can use your surroundings as a tool to connect audiences by capturing their emotions and being memorable.
This feeling of being memorable can help you sell or promote your products or services, whilst telling the story of your organisation through design and aesthetics. Introducing inspiring and energising visuals that communicate brand will help your staff to feel that they are part of a mission.
Take Disney for example. As a company, they twist expectations and have designed their stores as something more than just space: an entire world of fun and escapism, completely separate from real life. Disney staff always refer to their customers as guests to further emphasise this point.
4.) Measuring your brand
The increase in social consciousness and demand for a human element has consumers interested in what the company believes, and what it is doing about it. Consumers want to know brands are supporting something bigger that benefits the local or global community.
Consider your public perception and how the media will view you. Think about whether your business will naturally leave you at odds with certain groups and you place on the political landscape, as well as your sector.
Now that you have developed your brand, educated your staff and brought your ethos to life, you need to make sure you can measure the impact and performance of your brand.
Measuring brand awareness among your target customers can take many forms. Some methods used to understand how aware your ideal customers are include:
- Surveys and focus groups
- Web traffic
- Search volume for your brand and products
- Social mentions and reviews
Financial metrics surrounding brand equity are directly tied to sales performance. If these indicators, related to the financial value of your brand, are increasing your revenue is likely to be moving in the same direction. Ways to measure brand equity through related financial aspects include:
- Price premium over competition
- Average transaction value
- Customer lifetime value
- Rate of sustained growth
For you to truly understand the value of brand-building activities, understanding brand equity from the perspective of both local marketers and customers is crucial.
Remember that measuring your brand is a constant task too. Don’t allow it to become stale and dated, and set yourself a reminder to review how each element of your brand is performing regularly.
So what does all that mean?
In summary, branding is essentially standing for something and creating your own culture. In order to create an effective brand, define your brand guidelines and embed them in everything you do.
Drill your staff and repeat the process until they become more than just employees, they become your people. 72% of recruiting leaders around the world agree that employer brand has a significant impact on hiring, and even more so has a significant impact on your business’s success.
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