Building a Brand

‘A brand is an idea in the minds of its customer and branding is construed as formulating a strategy to create this singular differentiating idea in order to promote a product or service in order to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market.’ Sharon Lim

If you’re an entrepreneur launching a new product or service, one of your biggest challenges is to get your new idea or product in front of your buyers or purchasers. The key to success is taking every opportunity possible to market and promote your brand.

Here are a few steps you can begin to take to ensure your brand is noticed:

Hang Out Where Your Customers Are

Identify your target audience and go to them. do not expect your customers to come to you. Share images of your brand, show it off! Social Media is a fantastic and powerful tool to help you do this.

Build a Relationship with your Customers

By creating an emotional connection with your customer, you may acquire a loyal following. Apple have adopted a successful approach to Brand loyalty and some may say this could be the core to apple’s success.

Quality

Quality is a vital ingredient of a good brand. Remember the “core benefits” – the things consumers expect. These must be delivered well, consistently. The branded washing machine that leaks, or the running shoe that falls apart when wet will never develop brand equity.

Research confirms that, statistically, higher quality brands achieve a higher market share and higher profitability that their inferior competitors.

Positioning

Positioning is about the position a brand occupies in a market in the minds of consumers. Strong brands have a clear, often unique position in the target market.

Positioning can be achieved through several means, including brand name, image, service standards, product guarantees, packaging and the way in which it is delivered. In fact, successful positioning usually requires a combination of these things.

Brand Repositioning

Brand Repositioning is changing the positioning of a brand. A particular positioning statement may not work with a brand. Repositioning occurs when a brand tries to change its market position to reflect a change in consumer’s tastes. This is often required when a brand has become tired, perhaps because its original market has matured or has gone into decline.

For instance, Dettol toilet soap was positioned as a beauty soap initially. This was not in line with its core values. Dettol, the parent brand (anti-septic liquid) was known for its ability to heal cuts and gashes. The extension’s ‘beauty’ positioning was not in tune with the parent’s “germ-kill” positioning.

The soap, therefore, had to be repositioned as a “germ-kill” soap (“bath for grimy occasions”) and it fared extremely well after repositioning. Here, the soap had to be repositioned for image mismatch. There are several other reasons for repositioning. Often falling or stagnant sales is responsible for repositioning exercises.

Communications

Communications also play a key role in building a successful brand.

All elements of the promotional mix need to be used to develop and sustain customer perceptions. Initially, the challenge is to build awareness, then to develop the brand personality and reinforce the perception.

Your brand holds the key to the success of a business in a competitive market that no longer relies in distinguishing products or services based on quality and functional benefits alone. Here are some key considerations when communicating your brand.

  1. Presence of a brand champion (typically the CEO) and an army of brand ambassadors (key personnel). As the ultimate brand champion, business owners must stand at the forefront of the company and take charge of developing and executing the brand communications strategy. The roles that the brand champion and brand ambassadors play are different but complementary. The brand champion is the “chief storyteller” who develops a “good story” carefully angled to target each of the identified stakeholder groups. Besides developing a “good story”, the brand champion needs to convince employees that as brand ambassadors, they need to play their part in repeating this same “story” to all the company’s external stakeholders. A “good story” also meets the “3 C’s” detailed later.
  2. Repeatedly communicate brand values. Apart from conducting regular training, devote time for frequent dialogue sessions, display posters with the corporate position statements, utilise notice boards, and circulate internal communication (newsletters, emails, written memos, etc.). Furthermore, non-verbal communication elements such as dress-codes and the way employees are addressed are subtle techniques that could have an effect in encouraging brand-supporting behaviours.
  3. The three C’s. A “good story” embodies three essential Cs of brand communication – clarity, consistency and constancy.

“Clarity” dictates that a strong brand message is clear and authentic about what it is and what it is not.

To achieve “consistency”, the content of the brand communication should ideally be developed once, then tailored slightly for each medium.

Constancy” is about constantly reiterating the same brand messages so as to ensure that these messages are not only heard, but more importantly, remembered. In the absence of these qualities, it is nearly impossible for the brand communications strategy to succeed because each ambassador will be telling a different “story”.

Achieving the three Cs of effective brand communications is undeniably no mean feat. However, the reward for successfully achieving this is far reaching.

Strategy

This leads onto another important factor in brand-building: the need to invest in the brand over the long-term, the strategy. Building customer awareness, communicating the brand’s message and creating customer loyalty takes time. This means that management must “invest” in a brand, perhaps at the expense of short-term profitability and adopting a long term strategy.

Internal marketing

Finally, you should ensure that the brand is marketed “internally” as well as externally. So the whole business should understand the brand values and positioning. This is particularly important in service businesses where a critical part of the brand value is the type and quality of service that a customer receives.

Think of the brands that you value in the restaurant, hotel and retail sectors. It is likely that your favourite brands invest heavily in staff training so that the face-to-face contact that you have with the brand helps secure your loyalty.

How have you built your brand? and do you have any suggestions on what else brands can do to build their empire and share it with the world? Email: Info@2communicate.co.uk

 Elements in this article are extracted from a research paper; Inside Out; Through Your People By Sharon Lim, Research Analyst, StrategiCom, July 2010

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