Building Your Business Identity
Your brand is your business identity. It’s defined by how you and your employees consciously or otherwise portray your business, and how your market then interprets this portrayal.
Any inconsistencies between perceptions and how your business is portrayed will weaken your brand and reduce brand loyalty.
Therefore, as your business and market grow and develop, so too must your brand.
Everyone is looking for ways to stand out from the crowd. A clear brand focus that links your know-how with your message and creates a strong point of difference from your competitors will help you get noticed.
You don’t have to have the big budgets of Fortune 100 companies to boost the awareness of your brand and build stronger loyalty amongst your customers and staff. You do however need to be honest and candid when assessing your business positioning.
A 10 Point Guide To Building A Successful Brand
1. Take a step back and hit refresh
When looking to build your brand and raise your business profile, it’s a good idea to take a step back from working in your business so you can look from the outside in.
Take some time to reflect on:
- what makes your business truly outstanding (both functional and emotional attributes)
- what capabilities make your business extraordinary and hard to copy?
- how can you preserve and sustain this advantage
- how you can bring yourself up-to-date on local and international trends
- what other industry players are doing with their brands.
If you haven’t recently (within the last 12 months) done so, revise your market research and competitor research, confirm your target market and develop your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). This will help ensure your brand is aligned with your business objectives and give you a solid base to build on.
2. Understand your key brand touch points
The key to successful branding, whether you are developing, maintaining or building it, is consistency. Ensure brand identification markers – symbols, images, style, colours and messages – are consistent across major brand touch points because these will determine the strength of your brand in the market.
Major brand touch points include: what your employees say about your business, websites, business cards, trade shows, company presentations, annual reports, the media, industry publications, advertisements, packaging, company cars, staff uniforms, invoices and accounts, and mergers and acquisitions.
3. Harness the power of the internet
The internet is not only a powerful way to build your brand cost effectively, it also allows you to reach a much larger number of customers with speed. This makes your website and blog two of the most important brand touch points for your product or services.
Make sure both your website and blog reflect the personality and style of your company, and your website has a clearly defined brand statement.
A well branded website can be built for under $2000. E-commerce is also freely available and the administrative cost savings more than outweigh the monthly fees of e-commerce trading accounts. Alternatively, you can design your own website based on easy to use templates using applications such as Apple’s iWeb.
4. Search engine marketing
Build you brand profile by improving your website ranking in Google for key word searches relevant to your business, product or service. You can create an “adwords” account and pay per click to ensure your company’s website appears on the front page of a Google search for a keyword. For example, if you sell car seat covers you can chose the keyword ‘car seat covers’ and pay the going ‘per click’ rate to ensure your website appears on the first page.
5. Appoint brand ambassadors
Identify employees who live and breathe the company’s brand through their actions and behaviours. Provide incentives for them to promote the core values and essence of your brand in dealings with internal and external customers. Follow this strategy through to your customer base, by appointing loyal customers as brand ambassadors as well.
6. Develop a brand community
Establish a group of internal and external stakeholders who keep an eye out for any trends in the industry you compete in. Your brand community might include some or all of the following:
- graphic designer
- web developer
- advertising agency
- PR firm
Plan to meet with the group on a quarterly or half yearly basis and obtain honest feedback from them about the performance of your brand and how it’s being perceived in the market. Remember to reward members for their contributions.
7. Invest in people development
Ensure your product and services are sold to your employees first, before they are sold to your customers. Engaged employees will engage your customers. Ensure that staff receive on-going training and a career pathway is mapped out with them so they can see how their performance is linked to the growth and future of the company.
Engaged employees are more likely to stay with your company and become brand ambassadors.
8. Your work environment should reflect your brand
Take a look around you – does the physical environment you work in reflect your brand values and drive you to higher levels of performance? Does it contribute to open communication between staff?
Ask your staff how they feel about their work surroundings – it may only be a splash of paint, new carpet and a coffee machine that will bring some life to your workplace.
9. Resolve customer complaints quickly
Treat all complaints seriously and give them number one priority. A dissatisfied customer can turn into a loyal buyer if their complaint is resolved quickly and with minimum fuss. This doesn’t mean the customer is always right, but it does send a strong message that you are serious about your brand.
10. Define the brand architecture of your brand
Conduct a focused session to discover and define the key functional and emotional attributes of your brand as well as the relevance of your brand values. Your brand values form the platform of your communications, promotions and your culture.
How your customers connect with you emotionally drive the promotions of your products and services, build loyalty and long term relationships. Call in a professional to help you work through key drivers and develop a brand strategy that addresses long term brand growth and customer loyalty.