Building Your Brand
This content is provided by Purple Pearl Consulting
Almost every business has a name, from the smallest market trader to the largest multi-national corporation. However, not a lot of those businesses have what could be classified as a ‘brand’ or a ‘brand name’. Often times, what is prevalent are products or services that are made available, but which does not distinctively stand for something in the minds and hearts of its users.
WHAT IS BRAND?
There are many definitions of a brand, the most effective description however, is that a brand is a collection of perceptions in the minds of the consumer/customer. It communicates the value derivable from that brand, business or its services. Brands are born out of experience and reflects trust that is built over time. A brand is not just a logo or design.
When you see some colours or features, there are certain brands that come to your mind.
- The Nike brand name is known throughout the world, people can identify the name and logo even if they have never bought any of their products. However, not only is the company name a brand, but the logo (The symbol - ‘swoosh’) is also a strong piece of visual identity in its own right. The majority of people that are aware of the company can also identify it (or its products) from this symbol alone.
- When you see an Apple with a bite, what immediately comes to mind is the Apple Company which has consistently over time, entrenched themselves in the minds of users of its brand and non-users alike. That is the power of branding.
- The clothing and running shoe company Adidas is well known for using three stripes on its range of products. This design feature branding allows people to identify their products, even if the Adidas brand name and logo is not present.
HOW DO YOU BUILD YOUR BRAND?
Building long lasting brands take time and requires consistency. It is an on-going process that requires the commitment of business owners to see to. The following steps highlights the process of building your brand:
- Take Inventory: this is the time to ask yourself some questions and ascertain where you are currently on the journey to branding your business.
- Appraise where you are now. Have you made any attempt to build your brand?
- What knowledge do you have of your target market? Their demographics, their habits and behaviour.
- What do you have to offer the customers? What is your proposition and unique selling point? What experience are you promising your customers/consumers?
- Craft your identity & positioning: This is what your brand identity will look like and stand for to your customers.
- Your brand name is part of the identity system and you need to ensure that the name you have chosen resonates with the value and the service that you are providing.
- Other elements of your identity are the logo, text, font size/type, colours. You need to ensure that all these elements reflect what you want to communicate to your end users. Your logo has to be distinct and creatively crafted in a way that it is memorable. Colours are very important and note that whatever brand colours you choose at this stage, will be what you will use over time to depict the brand.
- Develop your brand positioning. You cannot be everything to everybody. Be focused on the role you want to play in the lives of your users and the tone and manner in which you will communicate with them.
Once you have concluded on your brand identity, please document this as a guideline. This will be what will subsequently serve as a guide when you need to develop designs and content for advertising for your brand. You will need to stay true to your brand identity; when you deviate from your brand identity & guideline; then you are eroding your brand and diluting your equity.
- Develop a Brand Plan: You will need to let your target market know about your brand, this is brand exposure. As such, it is important to develop a brand plan that will guide your efforts. Ideally you should develop a one year plan, however you can put a six months plan in place.
- Your brand plan will indicate what your marketing strategy is and how you intend to bring your brand to life; that is exposing your brand to its target audience.
- You need to develop the communication that you want to pass across to your target market. Remember that the elements of your brand identity needs to be brought to life here.
- There are several elements of the marketing mix, of which you can determine which of them will work well for your business.
- Choose the right tools & Channels: There are several options you can choose from depending on the level of maturity of your business, your understanding of your customers, their behaviours and habits, relevance to your target market, the type of product or service that you offer amongst other factors. It is very important to ensure that your choice of tools and the medium chosen is effective and relevant to ensure you do not waste resources without driving results. As much as possible, ensure that you exploit generating free and earned media which will help to minimize your marketing spend.
The following are various touchpoints that you can use to build your brand:
- Traditional Media: This is mass market in nature, meaning that it will be exposed to a large number of people. The elements are TV, Radio, Press – magazines and journals. However, for a new business (SME), this may not be relevant as it entails huge capital outlay and may be too mass market for what you want to achieve in the short term.
- Digital Media: With the explosion of the digital platform, the face of advertising has been permanently changed in recent years. There are several touchpoints that can be used to generate awareness for a brand on the digital platform. There is media buying on sites like google search, yahoo, Sports/fashion/food sites. Depending on the type of brand you are projecting, you are able to tailor make your communication on relevant platforms.
- Social Media:
Social media is the new way of maintaining communication and dialogue with friends, family and the outside world. These sites have been used by several companies to drive brand engagement and followership. Gone are the days when brands talk down and at customers; now is the age where there is a two way conversation. You can buy Ad spaces on some of these sites. This is a cost effective way for an SME to reach its audience and showcasing your brands. Some of these are LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook amongst others.
- Word of mouth/Referrals:
The effectiveness of word of mouth has been attested to over time. This is more so, when a customer has enjoyed a good experience from you. They go ahead and tell other people and your brand expands and grows. A happy customer can refer your brand/business to many more people. Be aware also that a bad experience may generate a worse word of mouth which will spread faster.
- Public Relation (PR):
This is often referred to as earned media. This is when you get mileage for your brand through write ups in newspapers or magazines. This may be borne out of the personal experience of the writer and it gives credibility to your brand. PR can also be a news reporting of your event. Either way, it projects your brand in a positive way.
Brands run promotion to drive users to patronise them. This can be in the form of discounts, free offerings or loyalty schemes. You need to be specific on the objective for running a promotion and set out the results expected. Once you are clear on the objectives of a promotion, you can decide on the mechanics and communication platforms that will drive awareness. Note that promotion is not what you do all the time as there are other effects on the brand – loss of revenue, dilution/erosion of your brand equity. You do not want to give a perception that your brand only thrives on promotions.
- Exhibitions/Networking Events:
There are several networking events that can provide a platform for your business to engage with industry leaders, opinion leaders and end users. Making your brand visible here will contribute to the building of a strong brand.
- Experiential activations:
Similar to networking events, there are platforms where you can get people to experience your brand – through sampling, usage of the brand in a way that builds a positive and lasting impression of your brand.
- Using your owned media:
This is your own space. Have you ever thought of developing a website for your brand? This is a platform that can be sorely yours and which you can use to tell the world about who you are and what value you can add. This does not have to be expensive or elaborate. There are many website templates that can be purchased online for less than N5,000 which you can them customise to fit your brand story. You can also visit SME toolkit website and access the ‘shop factory’ portal to customize your site.
Other owned spaces that you can use are your company letter head paper, business cards, brochures etc. Maximize this for your benefit – afterall you do not need to pay for the use of the space!
- 5. Appraise & Evaluate:
It is important to check for the effectiveness of your campaign and ascertain if the target market is being impacted, the perception of customers about the brand etc. as an SME, you will not have the funds to undertake an elaborate research. However you can gather feedback through various ways:
- Your website should have a feedback form which will give an opportunity to communicate customer/client perception of you and your service.
- Ensure that you get your clients/customers to provide you feedback after enjoying your brand. If they are satisfied – commit them to give you a testimonial that you can subsequently use.
- You can track impact on sales too. Are your efforts being rewarded with growth in your customer base and transactions?
- By the time you check all the parameters and ascertained impact generated, you can decide if you want to stick with your plan or you may want to tweak it a little.
You need to understand that branding requires consistency. You cannot expect a quick fix. Companies continue to spend money on building their brands, even after 100 years and above in existence. It is a marathon and not a sprint!
This content is provided by Bolajoko Bayo-Ajayi, the principal consultant of Purple Pearl Consulting.