Top 4 tips for creating a valuable brand

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.

Brand Wheel

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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Alan GarrattTraining & Development

Alan joined GAS in July 2016 having spent 11 years as a business owner, followed by 12 years at the mobile communications company EE. With a successful background in business sales, he moved into the world of Training & Development and specialised as a Management Development Consultant. Alan is tasked with creating a strong learning and development offering, where all employees receive the right level of support, training and development. His role incorporates needs analysis, training design and delivery.

Alan Says…

The pull of creating an L&D function at a young and vibrant company was too hard to resist. The board of Directors and senior management team are extremely pro-active where learning is concerned and push to get the best support for our people. My role is so diverse – one day I can be mentoring our young apprentices and the next I can be writing a management development session.

Did you know?

Alan goes camping regularly in the Highlands of Scotland and owns land on the West Coast. He has the official title of ‘Laird of Dunans’… his daughter bought him one square foot of land as a gift!

Bradley GrovesCEO & CHAIRMAN

Having co-founded GAS in 2012, Bradley has helped oversee the companies’ huge growth in a short space of time. Starting from its modest surroundings in South Shields, the rapid growth has seen the business move to its current surroundings in Seaham. Bradley’s background is in retail management and he has a wealth of experience working for a number of FTSE250 companies in a board level capacity, most notably with the Caudwell Group.

Bradley says:

"Certain businesses we’ve worked with have made six-figure savings over their contract terms, we cover a very large area when it comes to variable costs, and when we get involved, it means the companies can focus on their business while somebody else is focusing on what they specialise in."

Did you know?

Bradley is the proud Owner and Chairman of Spennymoor Town Football Club, who have achieved 4 promotions and Eleven trophies since his takeover in 2009. As a youngster, he was also on the books of Aston Villa Football Club until an unfortunate injury took him down another career path which has culminated in the empire he has built today.​​

Chantelle WallerTeam Manager (IT)

Chantelle is a Graduate of Teesside University, where she studied towards achieving a BSc Hons degree in Information Technology.

Her IT career blossomed upon joining local firm Teesside Steel Works in 2011, where she progressed from the IT Helpdesk to become a Desktop Support Analyst. Following a four-year spell with organisation, Chantelle moved to Great Annual Savings in 2015, where she currently heads up the IT department and is responsible for managing the business’s technology systems.

Chantelle says:

“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity I have been given at GAS. There are real progression opportunities here and I have developed my career from Desktop Support to IT manager in the space of just two years. GAS make me feel valued and recognised.”

Did you know:

Chantelle is a qualified British Sign Language interpreter with a NVQ level 3 in British Sign Language.

Craig ShieldsHead of Quality & Risk

Craig spent the first 10 years of his career working in Education, firstly as a lecturer, then latterly as a Head of Sport, Leisure, Travel & Public Services at East Durham FE College. Having moved into the private sector in 2012 running a local franchise of Loughborough based business telecommunications company Crimzon Communications, Craig first became involved with Great Annual Savings by providing the telecommunications​ arm of the value added services of the business. In 2014, he turned that business rapport and relationship into a full time role within the company as our Head of Compliance.

Craig says:

"Being part of GAS is a journey, you genuinely feel part of the organisation and that your contribution makes a difference. The growth I’ve witnessed since I’ve been involved with GAS is phenomenal, to see us move from small serviced offices to where we are now has been a pleasure to be a part of. It’s exciting to think that we aren’t finished yet, with plenty more growth to come.”

Did you know?

Craig once appeared on the stage version of Catchphrase in Blackpool with the one and only Roy Walker.​​

Judith BennisonGroup HR Director

Judith was part of the team who initially set up Great Annual Savings in 2012, she brings with her an abundance of senior management experience, managing the HR/Resourcing functions in numerous fast growing FTSE250 companies including De La Rue International PLC, Blacks Leisure Group PLC and most recently G4S PLC. Judith has played a pivotal role in helping move the business forward with our ambitious growth plans and her impact has seen our head count grow significantly year on year with significant plans in place to manage and lead the continued growth going forward.

Judith says:

"Businesses who are pro-active continually look at managing their costs effectively, those who wait until a recession hits, are reactive and often too late. We want companies to be pro-active and take the pain away by saving costs now, letting GAS do the fully managed cost solution just makes good business sense for any company, whatever the size or industry. Our business ethos is something I truly believe in and want every company to benefit from our help and support, working collaboratively together is a great way to build long term relationships.”

Did you know?

Outside of work, Judith likes to turn her passion to Yoga incorporating head stands, hand stands, tree pose, back bends and still being able to twist & turn along with her fellow yogis. She is on the journey to lotus pose but 5 years on is not quite there… yet!​​

Lauren RedmanHR Manager

From Sunderland to Chicago and back again, Lauren has made significant strides in her career since graduating from Sunderland University with a 2:1 degree in Business & Human Resource Management back in 2011.

Lauren says:

“Attending University was a great learning curve for me and gave me a great insight into what I could achieve in my career. I was also afforded the opportunity to gain some fantastic work experience with Gateshead Council and Trade Training Associates, harnessing my skills in the end to end recruitment process and other generalist HR projects.”

After graduation, she took on a one-year internship in Hospitality Management in Chicago with Marriot. Upon her return to the UK in late 2012, her journey with Great Annual Savings began.​

Liam GrovesTeam Manager (Compliance)

An Alumni of Leeds Beckett University, Liam graduated with a 2:1 degree in Business Studies and has been part of the furniture from day one, starting his career at Great Annual Savings on a 12-month undergraduate placement working as a Business Solutions Manager. Having completed his degree, he took on a role as part of the Sales Administration Team.

Liam says:

“Being part of the companies’ inception and ongoing development has been a challenging yet rewarding experience which has helped me gain invaluable skills and knowledge of working in a fast growing private sector business.”

Since attending Argyle House School and Durham School 6th Form, Liam has always displayed a passion for business from an early age. You could even say it’s in his genes.

Over the years, Liam has worked his way up through the company and is now part of the Customer Compliance team working as a Compliance Manager, picking up a number of qualifications along the way including an NVQ in Customer Service.​

Mark JonesAssociate Business Solutions Director (UK & I)

Mark joined Great Annual Savings shortly after the company began trading in 2012 as a Business Solutions Manager, after initially beginning his career working in the Finance sector with Barclays, RBS and HBOS Group. His skills and high work ethic were quickly recognised as he was first promoted to a Team Manager, and then later to the Head of Sales, UK & Ireland. As one of the longest serving members of staff, he has now built a strong team of Energy experts designed to take the pain away from our customers when it comes to their utility bills and give them peace of mind and the time to do what they do best; run their business.

Mark says:

"The speed of my progression and development has been amazing. The guidance and ongoing support the Group has provided me to aid my development has been invaluable. It’s great to be able to assist businesses to reduce their costs and their customer satisfaction gives me personal satisfaction in my role.”

Did you know?

Mark is a lifelong Sunderland AFC supporter, attending every game home and away throughout the season with his young son Josh.​​

Matthew HerrellAssociate Director

A chartered accountant for over six years, Matt joined Great Annual Savings in 2015 after playing a key role in the growth of UK IT firm Onyx Group. As Associate Finance Director, Matt is responsible for planning, implementing, managing and controlling all financial-related activities for GAS, including the development of financial and operational strategies.

Phil AndrewAssociate Customer Experience Director

Phil joined GAS in May 2016, having worked in a number of blue chip organisations over the past 25 years including The AA, Tesco Bank, Aviva and Barclaycard. With the company committed to providing a first class customer journey and experience, as well as colleague engagement, Phil’s knowledge and experience as Head of Complaints at Barclaycard and Customer Experience at the AA is key to GAS delivering a first class experience to each of our customers’ every time.

Phil says:

"I am really excited to be a part of a local company which is looking to grow by putting the customer first. I was attracted by the positive culture that has been created and the opportunity of working for an organisation that is always looking to invest and develop its workforce and support the local community.”

Did you know?

In 2005, Phil was accredited a Six Sigma Black Belt whilst working for Zurich Financial Services. A winner of a number of industry awards, he also wrote and delivered the hugely successful Barclaycard “Obsessed” Program, which was designed to put the customer at the centre of the organisations thinking.​​

Philip BallNon-Executive Director

For over 30 years Phil enjoyed a career working for Local Authorities in Lancashire, City of Newcastle, Derbyshire and County Durham specialising in sport, leisure and cultural services before leaving his Director’s role at Sedgefield Borough Council in 2009 to start a leisure consultancy company. Having been commissioned to work on football and community related projects for Spennymoor Town FC in 2010, he developed a close working relationship with Club Chairman Bradley Groves.

Phil says:

"Outside of working on football club activity, discussions with Bradley began to explore how we were aware that many of the companies we had both worked with needed specialist cost reduction services which led to the creation of the Great Annual Savings Company in 2012 and began a journey of rapid expansion for us and huge financial benefits for our customers.”

Did you know?

Phil is a keen sportsman, his current playing passions are golf and sailing although when he was at school in Rotherham, he was proud to represent Yorkshire Schoolboys at Cricket and still holds his school’s wicket keeping record of taking 47 stumpings and 4 catches in a single season.​​

Ricky MingleCSR Ambassador

Ricky joined Great Annual Savings in May 2016, having spent eight years working in a Marketing and Data Management capacity in the events sector. To run alongside his core function of Email Marketing and Internal Communications Manager within GAS, Ricky was elected as Chairman of CSR in February 2017. He has been tasked with making a significant difference to the area of County Durham by raising money and spending time volunteering to help those in need. Putting his 10 years fundraising experience into practice, Ricky and the team did their due diligence and decided to support Animal Krackers, Heel and Toe Children’s Charity, Durham Foodbank and Wag & Co.!

Ricky says:

“When the opportunity arose to be part of the CSR team, I didn’t hesitate to put my name forward. The Group are very passionate about making a huge impact to small charities in our local community and the challenge now is to deliver on that. We have seen a positive response from the whole business to get behind our CSR drive, and with a number of successful events already done and many more planned over the coming months, we are in a prime position to fulfil our mission. It is great that staff have been given the opportunity to physically go out and support our charities as well, allowing for them to get involved and have a connection to our cause.”

Did you know?

As well as being a songwriter, Ricky is a Grade Five violinist.

Robbie ShearerHead of Field Sales

Robbie spent the early years of his working life in the public sector, including a stint in the Northumbria Police Force. After leaving his role at the Learning Skills Council, Robbie turned to a life of sales and hasn’t looked back since.

With a decade’s worth of experience in the utilities sector, Robbie is an expert on helping businesses find the right energy solution. Joining GAS in 2016, Robbie played a key role in establishing our Field Sales Division and spreading GAS’ portfolio throughout the UK.

Robbie says:

“Being at GAS has helped develop my career massively.  Working for a business and part of a senior management team who make you feel valued and make sure your contribution is recognised is really important to me and I feel like I have that in abundance here. “

Interesting fact:

I once successfully picked 5 numbers and the bonus ball on the Lotto and went to Camelot offices to collect my prize and have my picture taken.

SPID Number

Your SPID (Supply Point Identification) is a 13 digit long reference number that can be found on your most recent water bill.

Suppliers will use your unique SPID number to switch your retail services.

Victoria WaltonHead of Resource and Talent

Vic joined the GAS Group in 2016 following an 18 year career in recruitment, cutting her teeth on the Hays Plc Graduate Programme and more recently within the Senior Management Team of a locally based recruitment agency. With a degree in business management, she is tasked with developing an enviable employer brand for the group with a group strategy for attraction and selection from a constant pipeline of talented new applicants, as well as overseeing training, learning and development.

Vic says…

"GAS had already experienced a fantastic period of growth when I joined, and the vision and ambitions for the business, led by a passionate management team was enticing and exciting. With our focus to become an employer of choice in the local market, we used the success of the business and, most importantly the people within it, to create a strong personality and image for GAS, combining reward, progression, challenge and professionalism, washed down with a good dose of fun!  Highlights to date include the success of our recruits, the evolvement of our careers website and being part of the team achieving a national award in recognition for the success of our apprenticeship scheme."

Did you know…

In days gone by, she qualified as an open water scuba diver, and is handy in a quiz team when it comes to any 80’s music!