The value of your brand equals the sum of who your business is and what it stands for
Your golden carriage may not be the next Uber – but, you still need a brand
What is a brand?
“Brands are tangible promises made tangible through recognizable signs”
As far as the daily task of running your business is concerned, business is indeed business. And, where it concerns how your business functions in terms of efficiency and its ability to meet customer needs, such aspects can be classified under the umbrella of business operations. Yet, viewed from a different angle altogether, and considering the less tangible elements of what your business stands for, there are many attributes that make up the character of your business, in other words, the essence of your brand. In this article, we examine some of the most important aspects of what your brand really entails and sample some of the vital ingredients of the brand marketing mix.
Company name and identity
For starters, along with your company name your brand is your identity and as such it encompasses the sum of who you are as a business and what you stand for. In a very real sense, you need to completely understand yourself as a business before you can establish your identity. Once you have determined what makes up your identity you can develop your image. Image is an important part of branding and reveals those qualities that determine how your business is perceived in the marketplace. Notwithstanding, it is not always the case that your target audience and the public at large will perceive your brand the way you would like them to. Of course, the trick is to ensure that what you want them to see is what they will get to see and numerous ways and means exist that have a direct influence on how this happens.
Customer value proposition
While branding forms part of the marketing function, it nevertheless should also form part of other business functions. For instance, from your customer value proposition to the way the receptionist in your company answers the phone when a customer calls, through to consistency of interactions with customers across all touchpoints.
Effectively, all your employees should endeavour to ‘live the brand’.
A brand is also the most effective tool for retaining current customers and attracting new ones alike. A successful brand is one that is aware of what it stands for at every level of the business and is expressed and ‘lived’ at every customer touch point, every action that the business performs and is taken into consideration through every decision that is made by the business. It is an effective, holistic process that requires deliberate attention from the leaders of the business through to the culture of the company and is capable of sustaining business growth under all circumstances no matter the prevailing economic climate.
The power of your brand lies with your customers and the overall impression you create
It is important to bear in mind that the power of your brand not only emanates from your business but also lies with your customers, who, often, want to have their say and will even go as far as helping you to advance your products and services. Viewed from this perspective there is no longer such a thing as the ‘us versus them’ scenario, in other words your brand is not solely a force within your business but is also created in conjunction with your customers.
“Companies no longer create their own brands in silos. A brand is not owned by a company, but by the customers who draw meaning from it.”
Brand marketing unleashes potential markets via the ‘marketing stargate’ with a first-class boarding pass
The importance of brand marketing where unleashing potential markets is concerned should not be underestimated. While an entire host of various ways and means can be used to help create the portal via which the ‘the marketing stargate’ can be accessed, a positive brand image is one that can afford you a first-class boarding pass.
Spread the word and put it out there – the grapevine as a brand marketing tool
For any business to succeed it is important to not only seek ways and means to unleash potential markets but to access the right markets. Brand marketing can help open doors to achieve just that by using one of the oldest tricks in the book, that is, the proverbial grapevine. This is also where one has a certain measure of control over how one chooses to communicate the reputational aspects of the brand. Since customers need to be aware of your product or service, by becoming your own brand ambassador and positively spreading the word to promote your business using the grapevine enables you to be discovered by prospective customers who just happen to be in the right place at the right time. And, another thing about using the grapevine – word of mouth advertising costs nothing. Yet, conversely, negative chatter from those who do not view the brand in a positive light can incur huge costs when attempting to restore company reputation emanating from negative perceptions of the brand.
There is significant value in the words of Marvin Gaye, “I heard it through the grapevine”. But, those famous last words will always stick, one way or the other, so choose them carefully.
Gateway to increased sales
Once your brand is on your customer’s radar, your chances of achieving increased sales also dramatically increase. Awareness transforms into reality and new customers start to spread the word about what you have to offer which results in increased sales as the word gets out. Positive perceptions of the brand can have an exponentially dramatic effect on increased sales.
Build your reputation
The cornerstone of your success often rests on a solid foundation based upon your reputation. Brand marketing builds brand recognition and product recall and when a company delivers and even surpasses expectations according to consumer needs, business growth and increased sales are the natural result which inevitably results in unleashing still greater markets to be explored.
Helen Fenton: Senior Analyst, Business Optimization Training Institute (BOTI)