Do you think consideration of branding is only important if you are a big company? It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is, you are already operating with a brand so you must give it some thought. Your branding began the moment your business started, however, like many small businesses, it may not have been an intentional launch. Some businesses start and continue operating without any deliberate thought to their brand. However, as it is a reflection of everything you do, some careful consideration will serve you well.
Who are you? What do you do? Why do you do it? Who do you do it for?
Your branding needs to answer these questions. Perhaps you have a logo so you think you have your brand all sorted. However, your branding encompasses everything you do. What your business values are, the customer service you provide, how you write your emails, how you introduce yourself and more. It is the entire customer experience and the way your customer perceives you across all the consumer touchpoint.
To get your business to thrive, make sure you concentrate on the five areas where consumers come in contact with your brand:
Your brand promise is the tangible benefit that makes your product or service desirable. A strong brand promise is one that connects your purpose, your positioning, your strategy, your people and your customer experience. It enables you to deliver your brand in a way that connects emotionally with your customers and differentiates your brand. However, don’t promise what you can’t deliver. A brand promise is meant to inspire, but you also want to be realistic. It shouldn’t talk about what you do or provide but focuses more on the benefits and value you offer. It clarifies and communicates what makes you special – what makes you different from other businesses.
Use your brand story to motivate consumers to think, feel or act, while beginning to own a reputation in the mind and hearts of consumers. It’s an age-old concept that brings people together and keeps them engaged. Storytelling is not intended to be a “selling” tool; it’s a method of building strong relationships with your customers and a thriving community of loyalists over time. Your story identifies what your passions are and serves as the foundation for all your future content developments.
You need an innovation strategy that fulfils the brand promise by pin-pointing opportunities to create unique value. Instead of focusing on what you can provide, try thinking about what your target needs and how you can stay in the forefront of trends. Build that solution into your branding and reiterate it as part of your brand promise.
Consumer decision journey
This can be used to guide your marketing communications strategy and can form the start of a customer relationship marketing programme. By understanding where customers are in their decision process, you can make your messages more personalised and more relevant. It is made up of four main phases: initial consideration; active evaluation, or the process of researching potential purchases; closure, when consumers buy brands; and post purchase, when consumers experience them.
Brand experience is conceptualised as sensations, feelings, cognitions, and behavioural responses evoked by brand-related stimuli that are part of a brand’s design and identity, packaging, communications, and environments. Brand experience harnesses the power of consumer influence. Consumer influence generated by brand experience creates ‘pull’ which brings people into the brand through advocacy. Social media has the power to amplify and accelerate its reach. Brand experience is inherently social, it’s built on ideas that people want to spend time with and that people want to share.
Many small businesses and start-ups neglect spending necessary time thinking about their brand and the impact it has on their business. Your brand represents what customers expect your business to deliver. Think of it as the personality of your business – it’s the look, the feel and the voice. What you are selling can only get you so far if you don’t think about how you are selling it. Create a brand that stands for something and your customers will affiliate themselves to your brand’s activities, ethos, and lifestyle.