Branding 101: The Power of Branding
- A company’s brand communicates a message about its personality and essence, which can work for or against it.
- A strongly designed brand can create a positive, cohesive message for a company, attracting customers and suppliers alike.
- To harness the power of branding, companies need to conduct brand audits, involve employees in the branding process, and define its core competencies and desired customer perceptions.
As soon as you start a company, it has a brand, which develops over time and with experience. The trick is to get this brand working for you. If you realise the power of branding you will nurture your brand in such a way that it has a personality and becomes the essence of your company.
Customers and suppliers will have an opinion of your company, based on simple things such as telephone answering style, how quickly you pay your bills, how your office appears, should they visit. All of these deeper, often unconsidered levels of communication are already working for you, positively or negatively.
Part II: The power of branding
If you don’t have a plan in place, you should begin to take control of your brand, in order to create a more cohesive and positive message, company-wide. Part of this is obviously your visual identity. But first, let’s take a few steps back in the process.
Many companies are realising how powerfully a brand can work in their favour. If I say ‘computers’, you may think ‘Microsoft’ or ‘Apple’; ‘cola’ and we’re onto Coke or Pepsi. Imagine your brand having that sort of power, not just in your chosen marketplace, but globally.
Firstly, a ‘brand review’ or ‘brand audit’ is necessary. Take a look at what you already have in place, planned or not, and see if you can work with that or if you need to replace certain methodology within your company.
Hopefully, your business already has several customers and suppliers, so a good first step would be to find out their opinions on your company and ‘brand’.
It’s important to understand how you are perceived from the people you’re hoping to attract to your business. You know what you want to achieve and with whom you’d like to do business – but do they want to do business with you?
It is also vital to get employees involved early in the branding process, as they must be ‘on message’, i.e. selling your company and it’s products or services in a uniform manner, across the board. It’s no good having a grand scheme of how your company needs to present itself, but not telling the people who are actually dealing with the paying customers.
By involving your staff, you offer them the chance to understand the process of the brand review, and increase the likelihood that they will buy into any changes that might result from your initial audit.
Define your company
Some key questions to ask yourself:
- What are your company’s core competences? What are you good at, what can be improved?
- How do customers see you (ask them!) and what do they say about you? Reliable, good value, expensive, customer-focused, trusted, etc.? What words would you like your customers to associate with you now and in the future?
- Do you see a pattern in your client-base? Are you working for organisations, or selling to customers, that you aspire to? If not, who would you like to be working with?
Once you have some answers, you should be able to better define your company, and see if it differs from your original perceptions.
Remain realistic. Your small house furnishings business isn’t going to turn into Macy’s overnight! Remember, you need to appeal to your identified market. As that market changes over time, your brand will develop and mature.
In part III – Brand Values, we’ll look at the core brand values, which define what your customers can expect from you.