Why branding matters (and how to get it right)

Learning how to present your brand and leverage your brand identity with your customers is essential to business growth. No matter how small your business is.

“Brand” is a word usually only taken seriously at the big end of town. But have you thought about what brand means to your business? Do you even think of your business as a brand? If not, now is the time to start.

Your brand is what sets you apart from your competition in the minds of customers. And establishing brand recognition is vital in securing business. The most successful businesses – no matter their size – are those whose brands are easy to remember, instantly recognisable and trusted by consumers.

The Holy Grail: Brand Equity

“Brand Equity” simply equates to the “added value” that a brand brings to a product. It’s why a consumer may trust one company more than others. Brand equity can add significant value for the consumer, above and beyond the product or service itself.

Look at Apple. It is able to sell technology at higher prices than its competitors. It never has price promotions. Is it because they have a much better product? Possibly – but more likely it’s because they have established a brand that consumers want and trust regardless of the product.

The first and most crucial step of branding is to be clear on what your business stands for and what your promise is. Knowing this will not only help you put out consistent messages and attract the right customers, it will also help you hire the right people and develop products and services that are aligned with your promise.

Next, think about where you come into contact with your customers, and how you can reinforce your brand identity each time. You might not be able to control and brand every aspect of the customer experience, but one thing you can control is your communication style. Focusing on how you communicate your brand can make a massive difference to how people perceive it.

Here are three ways to establish your brand through communication:

Be authentic.

To develop a brand people can trust and relate to you need to be authentic. According to the Authentic Brand Index, being authentic means practising what you preach. In other words, being totally clear about who you are and what you do best. You need to have a sincere commitment to deliver what you promise. Tell customers what you are all about and if something goes wrong, be honest and open about it. People can spot a brand that’s overpromising from a mile away. Think of your favourite brands – are they authentic and relatable? How do they achieve this?

Tell stories.

Storytelling dates back thousands of years and is the key to developing a brand that people relate to. The fact is, people love a good story. Craft your own around why you started your business, or how the idea behind each of your menu specials came about. Thentell it through everything your do – your letterbox advertising, merchandising, website, email marketing, social media and so on. Let your story and personality shine through – it’s a surefire way to build trust and appeal to customers.

Be consistent.

People trust what they see most. Reach out to them on a regular basis through social media updates, email campaigns, flyers in their letterbox and even print ad campaigns. You also need to be reliable. People need to know what to expect, and they need to trust that you will deliver.

Through a continuous presence and marketing of the values and benefits of your brand, and consistent delivery to set expectations, your brand credibility, memorability and consumer trust for your products and services will increase as a result.

Lastly, don’t forget to be consistent with your brand style. Make sure all your marketing materials – website, imagery, business cards, letterbox flyers – have the same look and feel. Use templates and create brand standards for your marketing materials. Apply the same colour scheme, logo, font, and tone of voice throughout. You don’t need to be fancy – just consistent!

Never stop managing your brand. Once your brand clearly, distinctly and consistently communicates your business, it’s your job to continually build and protect your brand equity. Your efforts will be rewarded with unrivalled customer loyalty and an intangible competitive advantage for your business that can’t be easily copied.

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By Chloe He – Marketing Communications Officer – Local Direct Network (LDN)

With a robust acumen in marketing and communications, Chloe is passionate in making marketing easy for SMEs. Chloe’s a whiz at producing obtainable creative ideas & insight to inspire small businesses to get the most out of their business and marketing activities. Follow Chloe on Google+ and LinkedIn.

 

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