How-To

Branding Basics: Make Your Mark

When in business, it is ideal to be the customer’s first choice and to maintain that reputation. The success of your business lies very much in the process of building and managing a brand, and if done so effectively, you can be the consumer’s first choice. Brands are how customers relate to your company and your products/services provided. It also helps customers to make better buying decisions because by knowing a brand, preferably your brand, they know what they are buying before they commit to a purchase. Brand loyalty is what keeps businesses alive, and existing customers trust brands that they use because they know they can trust them.

When most people think of brand recognition or brand loyalty, they think of large corporations or companies. Brands are not just owned by the power players; brands can make smaller business very successful and stand out from the rest, especially when in competitive industries, such as the fashion industry.

Building and managing a brand takes a lot of work, and you must focus on the importance of knowing what your customers want and how you can give it to them, guaranteed. Being consistent in your services offered and any other type of contact with your customers is what makes a business. It can make or break you; customer relationships can mean all the difference.

CREATING A BRAND

Promote your strengths: Think about what your company is good at and what your mission and goals are; use them in a positive way to gain customer loyalty and recognition. What could you be good at? Possibly great customer service; high-quality products; or perhaps providing the best possible value in the market.

And you cannot be “all talk and no action.” If you make a claim that your business is the best at whatever you do, make sure to deliver!

WHAT DO CUSTOMERS WANT?

Customers have requirements and you must make sure you can match them. Think about this: What makes your customer buy? What drives them? And remember, it is not only about your performance or your prices. A good way to find out what is on the minds of your existing customers and your potential customers it to ask them what they like about your business, in dealing with you, what they look for in their buying decisions, and what drew them to your brand. This can help make your business better and can also help to build your brand. If you can match your customer requirements efficiently, you are on your way to a great brand, but if not, you need to seriously reconsider what you are offering to your customers and why they aren’t pleased with your company. Ask yourself what other benefits you offer, or if you are even capitalizing on the right ones.

For example, a fashion retail store that has good brand value can capitalize on it if their customers and potential customers want the trendiest and fashionable clothes around. However, if their customer base are made up of retired folk, how much of a chance do they have at selling high-fashion goods? Probably not so much, since their brand is not meeting their customer’s requirements.

BUILDING A BRAND

Consistent communication can be the next step in building your brand, but make sure you are able to meet customer requirements and needs before you do this. Contact that you have with a customer or potential customer can help to reinforce your brand values, recognition, and loyalty. When building your brand, keep these things in mind:

  • Business name
  • Names given to your products/services
  • Logos and slogans chosen
  • Stationary style and quality
  • Packaging
  • Your location/premises
  • Advertisements: how and where you do it
  • Employees: how they dress and behave
  • Online (if you choose to have a website)

All of the aforementioned aspects of your brand and business should be inline with each other no matter what. Do not stray from your overall purpose and overall image. This will help to strengthen your brand. Don’t make promises that you cannot fulfill.

MANAGING THE BRAND

Often times, you won’t be able to be the sole person to take charge in managing your brand. This would be a good opportunity to get help; hire an employee to help out or take responsibility for managing the brand.

More often than not, employees play a vital role in managing a brand because it is they who help to represent who you are as a company and brand. If your employees believe in the brand and what it stands for, they can help to communicate much more effectively to customers. By keeping employees involved, your company can run much more smoothly. Have a suggestion box or the like; discuss at meetings the importance of the brand, what they think of it, and how the business is performing.

Make sure that your employees know that breaking promises to customers is extremely crippling to your brand. Make sure employees know that what they are doing is important to the success of the brand and that they truly are needed.

CUSTOMER’S INPUT

Outside of your business, get regular feedback. This really helps to find out if your company is performing the way it should be. And while you may not like this idea, talk to any dissatisfied or former customers and find out what went wrong…you never know, you could get their business back. And take whatever criticism you receive as constructive criticism; it will benefit you.

REVIEW:

By keeping a brand up-to-date and in line with customer requirements, needs, and expectations, a brand can be successful and have a long and prosperous life! Do remember that just along with your business and brand needs, customer needs change too, and this is how your brand can evolve and become more successful; just make sure to stay current and relevant.

Are you doing everything that is necessary so that your customers are getting what they want? Have you changed in your market position? Have your customer’s expectations changed? How can you adjust accordingly? Examine the following areas:

  • Products/services
  • Systems
  • Marketing Strategies

Set up a communications system to contact customers by either phone, fax, or email. This system should be the most utilized after delivery of your product/service. This is an excellent time to get customer feedback and the customer is able to feel that they really can count on you to get things done, which makes it easier for them.

TIPS ON BRANDING

Focus on your company’s abilities to fulfill customer’s expectations. There is no point in having a brand that cannot deliver what customers want.

Take control. While you need to pay attention to customer’s needs, you also need to not stray away from your idea of what your brand should mean. Make sure to control what you want your brand to mean to your customers.

Keep it simple and consistent. Focus on the key brand values that really represent your company. And with these brand values, make sure that your customer always feels the same way about you.

Believe. If you believe in your brand, then everyone else will too. If you don’t, you shouldn’t expect much in return.

Involve employees and be thorough. Make sure the people who work for you are fully involved because they help to communicate your brand to customers. And with all of your systems, make sure they help to support your brand.

If you can meet your brand’s expectations, try to exceed them. Give yourself a challenge and go beyond the goals that you have set for your brand. And by all means, try NOT to fail.

Manage! Look for opportunities to make improvements, to grow, to evolve. Make changes and don’t be afraid to. It can really have a promising result.

KEEPING WITH THE TIMES

A good way to find out what’s going on in the branding world is to keep up to date; see what’s happening and what tips and tricks are out there; learn from companies branding techniques to hopefully build your brand. A good website to look at is Brand Channel, the world’s only online exchange about branding. Here you can find all of the useful information that you need to know about branding.