Branding is an integral part of the way you communicate who you are and how you differentiate yourself from your competitors. Whether you are a not-for-profit organization, an SME or a start-up, your brand and your attitude towards it can have a huge impact on how you grow and manage your business.
Attitudes to Branding
Many senior managers look upon branding as a cosmetic exercise. Instead, they prefer to concentrate on the ‘more important’ issues of sales, cost-cutting, or restructuring etc. The brand is treated as a superficial trifle as opposed to a reflection of what the business is about and how it will deliver a competitive advantage. Public opinion is also fairly negative.
When brand consultants reveal the new look for a high profile organization, the 2012 Olympics or BP, the focus is always on the over $1 million fee that’s been paid out. The long-term potential of the brand and the additional million in fees paid to advisers, lawyers and accountants are ignored. This is because until a brand is established, people do not consider it a good investment of time and resource.
The internet challenges these attitudes. The speed with which your product or service can be found means that your brand must not only be strong visually, but it must convey a strong value proposition and ethos. Increasingly, your website is where potential customers receive their first impression of who you are and what you stand for.
Why do we need it?
The need for a strong identity
It seems that renowned brands are gradually losing their power of attraction. Some even announce that brands are dying. They are based on the fact that people are buying more and more “unbranded” products, and this is explained in particular by consumers’ awareness that products are almost identical regarding quality, calling into question the ‘price gap.
A brand allows the customer to choose a product. Any business can and must create a brand image. Money greatly facilitates this task, but it is mainly a problem of imagination. Moreover, it depends largely on the quality of positioning.
In a world where consumers have a multitude of options, where there are so many offers that they will never be able to test them all, branding makes it possible to “stand out”. The company offers its potential customers a good reason to buy what they know. Moreover, being competent is not enough: you must also let it show.
Many people accidentally mean to speak well of an unknown company. But they might forget the name or wonder why a respectable company is not known. On the Internet, the most visited commercial sites are those that have been opened by reputable companies in the “real world” or who have created an online reputation. And that goes through a major promotional campaign.
To inspire trust
A brand is not a luxury but a guarantee that all companies should offer to their potential customers. Because they are often afraid to be wrong. On the Internet as elsewhere, customers generally make the choice with the least inconvenience rather than the one with the most benefits. Branding is the best way to reassure them. This is the guarantee that the site will keep its promises.
Advertising plays a key role in building a brand image. Customers choose what is most familiar to them. It is, therefore, necessary to be known in all possible ways. The company will also have to think of all the means to reassure its customers: transparency, availability, after-sales service, etc.
Branding is hard work, but it will give you many benefits for your business. Take the time needed to really examine what your company is all about and how you want people to perceive you. You may want to hire a firm that can help you develop a brand and make sure it is consistent and powerful. Your brand represents you and your company; make sure it is a good one.