Building your brand
Whatever your line of business, the right brand is essential. Your brand should encapsulate everything you want your customers to think about your business. It should differentiate you from your competitors, not just by drawing attention to your particular product or service, but by promoting an image that is individual to your firm.
The right brand can help you to increase your market share and encourage customer loyalty in the long term.
The Package…not just the packaging.
Think 'brand', and the initial tendency is often to picture a particular well-known logo or style of packaging. However, building a brand is really about forging a unique identity in the marketplace, and if you want to go beyond merely differentiating your product or service from others on the market, you need to think about the complete package.
What should a brand do?
When building your brand, your overall aim should be to create a positive, consistent message, which will encourage clients to perceive the benefits that are specific to your product.
Simple recognition is not enough - you need to communicate an association with a particular quality, such as value for money/ a traditional approach/ exceptional service, which will appeal to customers and encourage them to put your brand first. You might like to refer back to your business plan and/or mission statement.
- Begin by defining the qualities which most closely represent your product or service. Brand names inspire a feeling of confidence, and over time customers will automatically associate your company with the qualities you have chosen to highlight, when they come into contact with your brand.
- Names, symbols and logos should be short, simple and self-explanatory. You might want to communicate an element of humour or sophistication, or of having a friendly and approachable attitude. But whichever angle you take, your brand must remain easy for the customer to recognise and remember.
- Make sure that your brand is original and does not impinge on another designs.
- You may also want to ask your valued customers for their opinions on your plans, to see whether your choice of branding has real appeal.
- Ensure that all staff understand and take on board your brand identity: remember, your brand message represents your firm's image, and this image must remain consistent across all areas of your firm.
- Make sure your branding and logos are consistent on all of your stationery, mailers, advertisements and website.
Avoiding the brand pitfalls
Even the biggest companies can make branding errors...
Beware when rebranding
Although you should reassess your brand from time to time to ensure that it has not become outdated or inappropriate, it is important not to alienate your existing customers.
One of the most famous examples of disastrous rebranding came in 1985 with Coca-Cola's abrupt replacement of its most famous product with the sweeter 'New Coke'. The move had come in response to a shrinking market share, as blind tests suggested that many people preferred the taste of Pepsi.
The change was a public relations debacle and Coca-Cola were forced to revert to their original formula. However, there was a twist in the tale, as nostalgic demand for the traditional Coke had grown so strong that the company was soon able to re-establish its market lead.
Lost in Translation?
Do you intend to trade overseas? If so, take care to research your local market. Legend has it that Chevrolet's Nova model failed to sell in Mexico because "no va" in Spanish translates as "it doesn't go". Meanwhile the Kentucky Fried Chicken slogan 'finger-lickin' good' came out as 'eat your fingers off' in China.
Some of these stories might in fact be urban myths, but the moral - that careful research is vital - is valid.