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What Is Branding?

In an increased world of competition, it is essential to find a position and direction for your business moving forward and to establish a way to engage people. In essence, your branding is about communicating the promises you make to your customers and staff together with the evidence you have to show that you can fulfill those promises.

When I talk to most people about creating a ‘brand’, they tend to think of companies like Coca-Cola and Mercedes Benz. This automatically stops most SME business owners from thinking why they should create a strong brand image for their own business.

Projecting strong branding should be a priority for any business no matter what size or industry sector. A strong brand image will encourage more productive teams, differentiate your business from the competition and allow future prospects and existing customers to identify and engage with you increasing loyalty, customer retention and supporting your business marketing.

Your “branding” can be built at relatively low cost because it is based around perception. Perception is created inside the minds of your staff and customers based on what they see, hear, feel and the general experience they receive from your company. This perception is also based on the messages that you send out at all levels, including, but not exclusively, your business image or identity.

If you think you haven’t got a brand then think again, you have. Whether you like it or not, whether you realise it nor not – your business has a ‘personality’.

Does It Make A Difference?

Create a distinctive branding for your business now and you can develop a business that gets recognised for all the right reasons, and, by all the right people.

Customers and suppliers will already have an opinion about what kind of business you are based on simple things, such as how the phone is answered, how quickly you pay your bills, how your office appears if and when they visit. All of these deeper levels of communication are already there working for you, or quite often, working against you.

It therefore makes sense to know exactly who you are trying to communicate with, and what your core message is, before you even start thinking about brand or indeed any type of marketing.

People are willing to pay more for a brand than a product. A business can make extra profits from its products solely because of its brand name. As an example, how much more is a consumer willing to pay for a coffee at Starbucks as opposed to a coffee at McDonalds?

I recently came across a “High Class Butchers” shop in Birmingham, well that’s what the signage said, but when I looked in I saw typical “Low-Cost Branding” signs. I don’t know what quality of meat they supplied because with the mixed messages I decided not to go in. If you don’t get the branding right you will be losing money by lowering your sales.

Starting Point

Once you realise this fact, you can start to take control of the communication around your branding to create a more cohesive and positive message. Start by having a good honest look at yourself because your personality, beliefs and values will flow down within the company. Find out how to project who you are – or change how you act to become who you want to be perceived to be.

Hopefully, your business has existing customers and suppliers, so why not ask them how they perceive you. Their perception is vital as they already know your business and will enable you to see your existing branding from the outside.

Get your employees involved to see how they see your business, involving your staff also helps them to understand the process and increases the likelihood that they will buy-in to any changes that you might wish to make as a result.

Chances are your staff and customers see the business differently from you, so already your business is sending out mixed messages and mixed messages result in reduced sales, unsatisfied customers and less motivated, productive staff.