Marketing Focus – The importance of a strong brand for effective marketing
There was lots of interest in the topic of branding at our recent training event and We Cowork and so we wanted to follow up with an in depth article about this important issue. So first things first, what is a brand?
What is a brand?
It’s actually quite difficult to define what a brand is, when I was searching for a definition I found the following explanation; “A brand is a mixture of attributes, tangible and intangible, symbolised in a trademark, which, if managed properly, creates value and influence”. But that’s not the clearest way of explaining it!
In simple and practical terms a brand is what a company uses to embody the customer experience and what it is all about. This includes the name, logo, colours, slogans and anything which it uses to differentiate itself from its competitors.
Once the brand becomes known, it becomes associated with certain qualities, values, and customer experience which positions it in the market. A brand should have a personality and a set of values which it embodies and employees and customers should know about this. A strong brand is proven to making a company more profitable, but there are a few things you need to think about to have a really clear view of your brand. Let us take you through them!
What is your brand personality?
A brand personality is a way to apply human personality traits (seriousness, warmth, imagination, etc.) to a brand as a way to achieve differentiation. This is a good way to humanize the brand and think about it differently and when you have a strong brand personality marketing and design is easier to create and apply. To think about this for your company have a brainstorm with your colleagues or partners and ideally a customer, for another perspective. First, think of your business in the way we would a person and try and describe it e.g. is it friendly, serious, fun? Quickly write down 3-5 words which you think describes the company and then compare, there is sometimes a conflict in how you think about the company and how your customers perceive it and this is important to discover. Find the most popular words to describe your company and put these into your marketing plan and think how you would apply this to your marketing materials.
What are your brand values?
Then it’s time to think about your brand values – the code by which the brand lives. It is very important to establish brand values, so we can make sure that we are all behaving in a way which respects your identity and the way you feel is right to behave. Brainstorm some values which you feel must be present in all dealings you have within your company, having this clear will guide you and your employees to represent your brand in the correct way and consistently.
What is your brand promise?
Finally see if you can come up with a brand promise, that you want to live by and be known for by all out stake holders. A strong brand promise gives customer a unique, compelling reason to use the brand, differentiates the business from its competitors, steers marketing efforts, is a major component of creating a service culture and defines the company’s services, products and processes.
When you have these three things established, alongside a strong logo and an established colour scheme and font guidelines, you are well on your way to having a great brand. The next thing to do is make sure that all your team members understand this brand identity and you and they are acting in the right way to reinforce that message.
How can you embody your brand?
As a business owner you are the key representative of the brand, and being a brand ambassador probably comes easily to you as the business is so entwined with you and you know the importance of a positive and strong brand.
However if you have employees, don’t forget to inform them about the brand, help them understand what the brand stands for, tell them how they should be acting and get them to think of all the ways in which they embody the brand but they may not even think about. Empowering and informing them is the best way for them to do you proud and be the best possible brand ambassadors.
Here are the key ways owners and employees embody the brand and questions you can ask to start a conversation with all members of the team to engage them with the issue.
- Behaviour – verbal and non-verbal, this must be in line with the brand personality and also embody the brand values
- Dress code – This can be a tricky topic as dress sense is so key to personal identity, so get your team involved and ask them –
– What do you think the way you dress says about the company?
– Do you think there are any things an employee shouldn’t wear?
– Is it difficult for you to choose a suitable outfit?
– Would you like an established dress code to help, or guidelines?
- Service levels – Customer service is always key to the brand experience, but especially at junior levels staff can fail to see the importance. Ask them to reflect on it in the context of the brand with the following questions.
– Think about your brand values, if customer service and care are integral to your brand, then that means your service levels need to be very high
– Put yourself in the shoes of your customers, what kind of service would you want to receive?
– Do you think service levels ever fall below where they should be? If so, why do you think that is?
– Would it be helpful to have more guidance and processes for giving service to the clients?
- Communication – Communication must always be great quality and match your brand personality and values, ask for feedback on corporate communications and marketing materials such as advertising and find out from your team if they have any particular communication challenges.
- Branded items – If you have branded items these are very important ways to promote the brand, but they can easily be detrimental. For example if you have branded cars make sure everyone thinks carefully about their driving, keep cars clean and tidy and park properly and legally. Folders, paperwork and branded items need to be well-looked after and kept nicely to ensure that they have the right impact.
Ask your team about the barriers to being a good brand ambassador and try to help them to achieve that, getting your employees involved in the discussion and setting guidelines makes them feel empowered and much more engaged with the company.
Shaw Marketing Services can offer in-house brand workshops to help start a discussion, brainstorm brand values and personality, generate ideas and inspire team members. Please ask us about our business training sessions and how we can help make employees more productive. We are also here to support you to develop a strong brand through quality design and production of marketing materials which correctly represent your brand identity. Contact us to find out more.