What is a Brand? it defines the identity of an organization, product or service. It’s more than just names and logos. The identity needs to be based on a unique idea and told through a compelling story. It needs to connect with potential customers and form positive emotional bonds. The idea needs to be distinctive from the competition and relevant to the target markets worldview. It also needs to be authentic, meaning that it’s not enough to simply make empty claims. The organization needs to actually live its brand and brand strategy.
Brand building should be one of your very first priorities when you are engaged in marketing on the internet. Establishing a strong web presence takes time and effort, however the process itself can quickly boost your ability to make money when you are working online. The establishment of a unique brand identity will over the long run help to increase your promotional effectiveness, but even the process will benefit you almost immediately. The 3 examples we discussed here today demonstrate that you do not have to wait until you have firmly established your brand online to experience income generating benefits. The process alone helps to increase your exposure, generate traffic and put you in a position to make money. The best part is this can happen even before your new image has become firmly embedded in the minds of people.
You just take a look around you and you’ll see plenty of banners, advertisements as well as offers and opportunities offered by various brands. People often wonder why businesses focus so much of their time and finance on brand marketing. However, if you want to take your business to the next level you would need to think of a way to improvise your overall brand strategy.
Brands increase the value of products and services by differentiating them from the competition, creating positive mental associations and forming emotional relationships with the customer.
Competing on price may increase short-term sales, but is a dangerous strategy for anyone serious about building a profitable, sustainable business. Brands provide businesses with the means to free themselves from constant price competition, increase the value of their services, reduce their marketing costs and develop long-term customer loyalty.
Building a successful, sustainable brand requires careful planning and consistency. It needs a strategy. Brand strategy is the plan that defines the ideas and stories behind the brands, the structure and relationship of the brands within the organization and the core identifying elements. These can include elements such as company and product names, tone of voice, logo’s, color schemes etc. It also provides the framework for implementing the brands throughout the organizations operations and for using them to efficiently work towards the businesses goals. It’s not just a cosmetic exercise; it’s a key element of business strategy.
With a clear strategy in place, managers can make appropriate, co-ordinate, informed decisions not just in marketing, but in all departments from product development through to customer service and recruitment. This process of embodying the brand idea throughout the organization is what is call branding.
The beauty of branding is that by telling your customers authentic, compelling stories, you not only make your goods more attractive and valuable, you give your customers something to talk about. Humans naturally love to tell and share stories. By giving them good stories to tell, you gain access to what is by far the cheapest and most effective form of promotion.
Few organizations manage to achieve the full benefits of word of mouth, and worse still, for many organizations it spreads more negative stories than positive. To compensate for a lack of positive word of mouth, organizations spend huge sums of money on ineffective marketing exercises. Without an effective brand strategy these exercises are often unfocused, inconsistent and unauthentic. Consequently, they rarely pay for themselves, let alone make a profit.
14 Step Brand Development Strategy for Your Professional Services Firm
1. Do the research to find how the brand currently stands
The first step in the brand building quest is to perform the research to find where the current brand stands. Find how staff, current customers, and potential customers value the brand. That includes finding the perceptions about, loyalty and connection to the brand. You most likely already have an idea of the new ideas to promote, but with a little work, you can find exactly how that stacks up against where you are now.
2. Define what makes this particular brand unique
The point of a brand is to provide a compelling image to the public. They want to identify with something. Then need something to fix a problem they have. Hold a workshop with key staff to define what makes this particularly company best. Start with the simple question of why someone should use your product over another. Build bullet points of ways that the company shines, then put all of these ideas into a brand statement.
3. Compare this statement to three top competitors
During the brand building process, you also need to know how your brand stands up to the direct competitors. Do research on their brand loyalty, values, and mission. Compare them with your information. What are their strengths and weaknesses? There will likely be some crossover, but find the way that your company excels beyond what they can do and emphasize those things.
4. Fine tune a strategy and position in an exercise
Find the marketing opportunity niche and position the company to be the solution. The brand can’t move forward without positioning and a strategy. This step can take time, and requires the use of the information about the competitors, as well as a solid understanding of the market, the ideal customer, and what they want.
5. Build a 2-3 year plan
This stage of brand building is to build a future plan to roll out the brand and maintain a consistent and strong presence with it. Start the plan with the expected outcomes of the new brand. Develop a timeline for all of the strategies. Outline the resources and tactics that will be needed. It is also important to consider all of the points of contact with customers and how the new message will be delivered at each one. With a hard work on the vision and plan now, the brand can continue to get stronger and the company can achieve the projected goals.
6. Increases Exposure
The very effort of branding requires increasing your web presence so the new identity you are forging will be expose to more people. Obviously you want to get the word out in order to make your brand more easily recognizable and in this way your business now has more exposure as well. Keep in mind that even without any established brand identity your message will still filter through to some people compelling them to visit your site.
7. Increases Marketing Effectiveness
Understand that you are in the ‘process’ of developing recognition for your brand, and that part of this process will be breeding familiarity with people. When marketing on the internet your promotional efforts will always be more effective the more familiar people become with you. This of course is based upon the assumption that the experience people have with you or your business has been a positive one! So from day one and going forward you will be increasing your online marketing effectiveness which results of course in increasing revenues as well!
8. What makes a brand?
People often recall your business and company by its name, logo or maybe even a tagline! Basically, anything that you could offer customers or potential clients so as to build up your reputation is known as brand marketing. This type of brand strategy lets you stay in the lime light; and, there’s surely a huge benefit of being the first name to pop up when someone is in need of services or products.
9. How do you improvise on your brand strategy?
The only way to improvise your brand strategy and gain popularity and increased sales is by a successful brand marketing campaign. Most businesses use adverts as a means of conveying their message, others may donate funds to a charitable organization, and in addition to these, there are plenty of other ways to let the people know that you’re the best. However, most businesses fail to realize that the best marketing tool is the word of mouth.
If you offer your customers exactly what they want in terms of quality and services, surely they’d let their friends know about you; and, if your business is really a gem amongst the pebbles, you would soon notice a multitude of people praising your brand to the skies.
10. Customer loyalty – Another brand strategy to keep in mind
Getting customers to your door and selling them products or services is just one of the major steps towards building a successful business. One of the most important brand marketing strategies that most businesses fail to realize is that of customer loyalty.
No matter what you offer, you surely are going to obtain customers. But, your task isn’t to sell them something. You should rather focus on keeping them satisfied and instill in them a feeling of want, wherein they would return to you whenever they seek similar services again.
If you focus on just a single brand strategy, you may find it really hard to build up the reputation you seek. Therefore, brand marketing should include a complete plan and you should not leave anything to chance. Whenever you notice repeat clients or customers, that’s when you should heave a sigh of relief; as, that’s when you say – ‘my brand strategy works!’ Don’t rest yet, keep improvising and tweaking your strategy in order to reap maximum benefits.
11. Brand Marketing
Sometimes, new owners of small businesses tend to think that branding is only for the larger corporations like Microsoft or Chrysler, but this is completely untrue. Having a strong and memorable brand identity can quickly become the very heart and soul of your business. Your company’s brand should be a combination of your business name and logo design. Here are some tips to help you get started.
12. Create a catchy name for your business.
Try to choose a company name that is very unique, but one that also clearly defines what you do best. It should be easy to remember. Envision 10 years’ time when your business is booming and people are after you to sell. A catchy name that stands out is going to make it much easier for the new owner to transfer your customers and profits over to his own portfolio. Using a name like “Bill’s Antique Shop” is simply too general.
13. Encourages Repeat Business
People by nature do not like change and if their experience with you or your business is positive they will return. You are like a comfortable ‘old shoe’ they are familiar with and can depend upon. The longer your relationship endures with someone the stronger the bond!
Although this bond may not be fully developed early on, it is still a bond nonetheless and something that you can build upon. If you take the time to properly nurture the relationships you have with others, they in turn will likely refer their own friends and associates to your business. There is nothing that can beat this type of ‘word of mouth’ advertising!
14. Expand your brand.
The important thing to remember in building brand identity is to always strive to stand out in a market that is filled with competition. In today’s age of a more global economy and customer base, this is more critical than ever before. But the Internet has also made it much easier for us to build and expand our brand name visibility. Social media, blogs, and commercial forums are a valuable next step in the process, helping you to connect with potentially millions of customers and professional contacts almost overnight.