A company brand is more than just a name, logo or even a slogan.
It's the promise you make to your customers. Your brand should communicate your businesses values and distinguish you from your competitors. Above all, your brand should connect with your target market and create feelings of loyalty and market share.
Brand recognition is created by the use of your product or service and through the influence of advertising and design, to communicate your values and services.
"A great brand raises the bar -- it adds a greater sense of purpose to the experience, whether it's the challenge to do your best in sports and fitness, or the affirmation that the cup of coffee you're drinking really matters." - Howard Schultz (CEO, Starbucks Corp.) So, what makes different brands great?
- A compelling idea
- A resolute core purpose and support values
- A central organizational principle
- Most leading brands are commodities
If one of your main business aims is to differentiate your business and/or services, then branding is the process through which that will be achieved, and that requires investment and dedicated management. Successful companies nurture their brands - they grow their value and evaluate their performance.
Consider some well-known brands that illustrate this point. In terms of commodity, there's very little to distinguish between the likes of Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Verizon and other cellular phone companies, or BMW and Ford, and yet each of these companies have an easily identifiable brand. Despite competing in a crowded marketplace, they ensure that the benefits of their products are apparent and that they consistently deliver on promise. They understand that brands are about choice and that in order to maintain and grow market share, they have to differentiate and innovate. Like other leading brands around the world:
- They consistently deliver on their promise
- They have distinctive positioning and customer experience
- They offer superior products and processes
- They align internal and external commitment to the brand
- They have an ability to stay relevant
As a company you should set goals to achieve a recognizable brand through teamwork and leadership that are based on your core values. Consider these values:
- Continue to build an innovative and global brand
- Position the brand around the mindset of your target market
- Deliver total customer satisfaction
- Be easy to do business with
- Motivate and develop your employees or team
- Increase efficiency with a sense of urgency
- Always try to out perform the competition
So, do you want to create a brand strategy for your business? Here are some helpful tips.
Create Buzz About Your Brand
To get customers to notice your brand quickly and affordably, stay focused and don't chase after huge or unlikely prospects. Don't squander time and resources by broadcasting mixed messages. Keep it simple. Make sure your marketing material has a recognizable identity, with a consistent logo, palette and tag lines. Word-of-mouth marketing is also an inexpensive and effective way of getting your message to your target market. Figure out what it will take to get your customers talking about your brand. That way, every customer turns into a “brand ambassador” for you.
Figure Out What Your Customer Wants
You need to establish who your target market will be and determine what will drive people to buy your product; basically, what needs for your customer will you fill? With that knowledge, you can then tailor your brand messages to appeal directly to them.
The Right Endorsements for Your Brand
If you have spent some time researching your target market, coming up with personalities who will create a buzz for your brand should be easy. It could be anybody from a business owner or teacher to a bank manager. Who will be the “perfect customer” and then will go out and become a brand ambassador for you? The hard part may be getting access to them, so some special marketing efforts may be required to reach them.
Finding Hot Prospects
Do some research and then write down a list of venues, seminars or annual shows you can attend that will reach your top-of-the-line clients. Then, spend what it takes to design an eye-catching booth. If you afford it, hire a marketing firm to create a memorable way to market your product or service. Or, sign up for media coaching and pay a speechwriter and design team to develop newsworthy presentations.
Open Markets with Public Relations
Media coverage in local, national or industry press can boost your business. Therefore, it may be worthwhile to hire the services of a public relations company to do the legwork for you. A good public relations firm can come up with a hook or a positioning that works for editors in that field. Choose a small agency so you can become a key client. Make sure you interview a few agencies before signing on. You might want to try a fee-for-project probationary period until you're sure you fit. Can’t afford a public relations firm just yet? Consider using an intern from a local college or university. You can work with the school's Career Center to bring in a student as an intern who is willing to work on a small salary, or unpaid. They get credit for their classes and build their resume, while you get the assistance of someone who is up-to-date on current marketing and public relation trends.
To market your brand and business effectively, you need to create your unique selling proposition. It is essential that you differentiate your product or service from that of the competition.
- Determine if there is a need and/or desire for your product/service
- Chose something that fulfills needs and/or desires
- Know your target market
- Ignite interest
- Ask for action
- Know your competition inside and out
- Know your product/service inside and out
- Set a budget for your marketing and branding campaigns
Develop an effective promotional campaign built around the key marketing strategies that you've just learned, utilizing the appropriate media. These could include:
• Print media (newspaper, magazine, classified ads, Yellow Pages advertising, brochure)
• Direct Mail
• Internet - web campaigns, e-shots
• Networking business cards
• Merchandise - t-shirts, hats, buttons, pens
Marketing the brand is all about getting your message to the right people, using the right media and the right methods.