Research shows that strong brands continue to outperform weak ones in terms of market share and share price during recessions. So, ensuring your brand is as relevant, clear and engaging as possible is essential.
Great brands have loyal customers who feel confident to buy more from you more often and at a slightly higher price as well as a strong sense of common purpose among staff.
Everybody has a unique personality, every business, however small, has a brand. It is a set of perceptions in the mind of your customers (and your staff) that determines how they feel about you.
These include your core values, what you do and how you do it and the tangible and emotional benefits of your offer.
Your brand is embodied in the design of your products and services, your staff behaviour, what you say about yourself and in how your communication looks. While using a good brand consultancy is a huge help in improving your brand, you can also make great strides yourself. It takes time, effort and commitment but the rewards can be remarkable. Here are some basic steps:
Get internal buy-in:
Set up a small brand ambassador team. Make sure staff, at all levels, are represented. Ask them what your company values are, what you are good at and what you could improve. You’ll be amazed at how much you find out.
Look in the mirror:
Find out how customers and suppliers perceive your business. Ask them what they think of you, why they buy from you (and why they don’t). A simple questionnaire, a friendly letter and a pre-paid envelope can do wonders. Or even a simple online questionnaire like SurveyMonkey. Does their perception match yours? If not, you have work to do.
Get internal buy-in:
Make a list of your competitors, obtain their marketing literature and trawl their websites and social media channels. Make two lists, one detailing what you do better than them, the other listing what you can learn from them.
Work out who you really are:
What are your core values? Come up with five words that describe what you stand for.
Why does you business exist? Write it down in one sentence of plain English.
What is your brand vision? Where are you going and do all your staff understand and feel they have a stake in your business aspirations? If so, will they add commitment and energy to everything they do for the company?
Can you describe what you do and who you benefit, in one sentence, that sets you apart from your competitors? If you come up with more than one answer, consider separating your offer into different brands or divisions.
Call some of those key customers back and see if your thinking is taking shape in a way that they really get. If it makes sense, you are ready for implementation.
A brand is what a brand does and much of this impression will be communicated by behaviour, especially so for service brands. All your staff should know your brand values, purpose, vision and positioning.
Are your website and other brand collateral communicating your values, purpose, vision and positioning? Find a voice that fits your brand personality. Be true to your values as well as interesting and compelling. Use a professional writer. Design your brand values into products and services.
Review your visual brand:
Harness the power of design to convey your new and inspiring brand messages in your logo, images, colours, choice of fonts and design concepts
You may need to work with professionals to properly refine and improve your brand, but this can provide solid foundations.
Good brands continually evolve while staying true to guiding principles. The marketplace never stands still and nor should your brand, but it should always be recognizable as the same good friend.