Nov 21, 2012
By Laurie Decosse, President and CEO of Lynk Marketing Solutions, a one-stop marketing agency based in Vancouver, BC, and featured expert on Episode 5, Season 2. Find out more about Laurie Decosse and Lynk Marketing
An internationally-renowned branding strategist once defined brand equity as: "a set of assets (or liabilities) linked to a brand's name and symbol that adds to (or subtracts from) the value provided by a product or service..."
We like this definition because it emphasizes that branding can often be a double-edged sword; if a brand is poorly managed, it can become a liability instead of an asset. Branding that is inconsistent and/or out of touch with the needs of customers can have a significant negative impact on your business.
With that in mind, here are a few key points that can help you develop a strong, recognizable brand:
- Know your customer. Always ensure your branding is focused on the mindset, needs and values of your target audience. Do your research and make sure you know everything possible about them.
- Study the competition and your industry. Study your competition's branding and positioning. What are their strengths and weaknesses? How are they marketing, and what are you doing that's different? Do you see any new emerging trends in your industry? Technology and the internet has changed everything - stay on top of it, or you will get left behind.
- Position your brand. What makes your product or service unique, and why should a customer choose you over your competitor. What's your niche? Be specific in your communications and highlight the features, advantages and benefits of your brand.
- Develop brand guidelines. A messaging and branding guideline document will help identify various customer profiles and needs of people who could potentially interact with your brand. Ensure features and benefits of your product are consistently communicated across all of your marketing materials. Developing brand guidelines will ensure that your messaging is being applied within across all communications.
- Be Consistent and Repetitive. The old saying, you have to be heard seven times to be remembered is TRUE. Brand recall is about repetition and consistency in messaging. Think about a favourite product or service that you purchase or consume on a regular basis. How often do you see and hear about that brand in your daily activities? Can you recall the tagline for that brand? If you can, then someone is doing a great job at branding!
- Customer service counts. Extend your branding through everything you say and do in your business. Remember, your branding is a promise to meet the needs of your customers. From your office or store front image, to how the phones are answered. How do your employees behave when dealing with customers? Are customers greeted with a warm friendly smile? Your current customers are biggest fans, so treat them like royalty, and give them reasons to come back to you.
- Be "uniform". What kind of attire does your staff wear at work? Branded uniforms? Whatever the dress requirements may be for your business, be consistent, and make sure your logo is evident wherever possible. Think about your last visit to MacDonald's, or the last parcel you received from UPS... do you remember what the staff wore? That's effective branding.
- Review the policies and procedures. Be flexible whenever possible to meet the needs of your customers. Customer-friendly return policies go a long way in securing brand loyalty. Look at businesses like Costco and Ikea to see how customer focused policies can be effective.
- Define and implement your organizational culture. An integral aspect to the success of any business is to ensure that your employees are aligned with your company brand and values. Develop a mission and vision statement, and ensure everyone on your team is on the same page with regard to personifying your company's ideology.
Time invested into your brand is time worth spending. By developing and maintaining a consistent, well-researched, value-added brand, you will put your company in a solid position to both attract new business and retain repeat customers and stay ahead of your competition.
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