As the owner of a business, you understand that your brand is one of, if not the most valuable asset. It is the asset that dictates the perception of your customer, your prospects and your employees; and an asset that you can mould to be the key to influencing behaviour. Behaviour that can ultimately, make or break your business.
With this in mind, surely it’s one of the most important investments that you will make as a business owner? Particularly with the unreliable business climate that has been experienced over the past decade; if your business has suffered with profits or growth, then revisiting your brand and its strategy could provide a fresh perspective on the state of affairs, along with some much needed inspiration.
The branding of your business should not be viewed as yet another cost against your marketing budget; it should be treated as an investment. An investment, if nurtured properly has the potential to yield exponential returns throughout the life of your business. Sound too salesly? Being a well-positioned brand grows your brand equity, solidifies your authority and can attract top talent to your business – all elements that can drive a business forward – it’s hard to argue that focusing on your branding isn’t a sound investment.
The word ‘brand’ is thrown around rather liberally, but what does it really mean?Design Council describes it as:
“Aset of associations that a person (or group of people) makes with a company, product, service, individual or organisation.
These associations may be intentional – that is, they may be actively promoted via marketing and corporate identity, for example – or they may be outside the company’s control. For example, a poor press review for a new product might harm the product manufacturer’s overall brand by placing negative associations in people’s minds.”
So just how can investing in your brand improve your business?
‘People don’t buy products, they buy brands’; People are also happy to pay a premium price for a premium brand. Solid branding gives you the authority to position yourself as an expert and a leader in your industry. By putting your core values at the heart of your brand, you are able to resonate with customers at an emotional level, giving you an advantage over customers.
Of course, they need to be authentic – the general public are extremely well honed when it comes to deciphering a transparent PR strategy under the guise of a genuine concern, just look at the latest NatWest debacle.
Those brands with a meaningful corporate responsibility are able to justify their value and command higher prices for their offerings. Increased prices lead to increased revenue.
Attract Valuable Customers
Thorough research is absolutely key, by conducting brand research you can put yourself in a position of power. You are able to delve into your audience; who they are, what careers they are in, what is important to them, what lives they are leading. You can look at industry trends; what is well received, what content is most engaging, what topics do people not engage with, what platforms encourage the most social interaction. You can learn from your competitors; how are they gaining coverage, are they producing interesting and entertaining campaigns, how are they perceived, where have they received coverage?
Branding is not about bombarding your audience with logos, advertisements or promotions – this will not attract a long standing customer.
Gathering in depth information means that you can sharpen your offering and efforts so that they are specifically aimed at your target audience – you know what they engage with and WHERE they engage with it. Not only are the right customers going to purchase from you, but they will also be converted into loyal brand advocates who will speak highly of you and become an influence to others.
David Dews from Speed shares his thoughts, “I actually think many companies a couple of years ago shifted too much of their marketing spend into digital marketing and neglected other successful areas of their marketing mix. I think recently there has been a move back towards a more ‘integrated’ branding approach. For me the focus should always be on customer experience. So get to know your customer and how they consume information and tailor your mix to suit and this will help you to also define the best digital channels to use.”
Decrease Marketing Spend
Once you gain a better understanding of your audience, you can forget any wasted efforts on a scatter gun approach that you have used previously. You have enabled yourself to create highly targeted campaigns to your most valuable audience.
A bold brand image and identity that is well articulated will increase the effectiveness of your marketing strategy, because all of the efforts will be seamlessly integrated. Your brand guidelines will aid you in creating campaigns that reinforce the message and not shooting in the dark each time it comes to develop a new one.
Engaging, innovative and well executed-campaigns naturally generate interest and press – your brand will continue to be discovered naturally, underpinning the authenticity of the brand and its message.
Close More Sales
Would you buy from a brand that is dated, lack lustre or a brand that is fresh, bold and exciting? Brands that are current and well defined are easier to sell because they have a compelling narrative woven into every part of their brand. They are transparent and engaging – this gives them a position of superiority and the majority of the work has been done for the sales team, the branding has given them a significant advantage, they are just required to send the same message with confidence and close the deal.
James Heaton from Tronvig Group wrote, “A brand will help encourage someone to buy a product, and it directly supports whatever sales or marketing activities are in play, but the brand does not explicitly say “buy me.” Instead, it says “This is what I am. This is why I exist. If you agree, if you like me, you can buy me, support me, and recommend me to your friends.”
Increase Company Value
The perception of your brand will determine the behaviour of your customers, which in turn determines the way that your brand performs financially.
The time and money that you invest into your brand and branding strategy will build brand equity – a powerful entity. This will boost the value of the business meaning that if and when the time comes to sell – the brand itself is a valuable asset.
It’s time to reconsider your opinion of a company rebranding; rather than view it as yet another cost that needs covering, view it as an investment. An investment that will help you to become more authoritative, attract loyal brand advocates that are willing to pay higher prices; all elements that will build brand equity while making you a market-leader. In a world where innovation is considered a key element for successful, to avoid branding yourself as a bold, innovative company would leave us wondering if you even want to be profitable at all…..