Do your customers really know who you are and what your organisation stands for? Or are you like many other small New Zealand businesses who are yet to learn about the power of intelligent branding?
What does this word ‘brand’ mean?
The words ‘brand’ and ‘branding’ are thrown around liberally by all sorts of people in different contexts and with different meanings in mind, so it may help to start by asking ‘what exactly is a brand?’
The simplest answer is that a brand is a set of associations that a person (or group of people) makes with a company, product, service, individual or organisation.
These associations may be intentional – that is, they may be actively promoted via marketing and corporate identity, for example – or they may be outside the company’s control. For example, a poor press review for a new product might ‘harm’ an organisations overall brand by placing negative associations in people’s minds.
So brand is much more than the logo you attach to your letterhead and your company vehicles. Brand defines your business culture and how your company and the services or product you offer are perceived by your target market.
So how can this benefit a small New Zealand business?
If a brand results from a set of associations and perceptions in people’s minds, then branding is an attempt to harness, generate, influence and control these associations to help the business perform better.
Any organisation can benefit enormously by creating a brand that presents the company as distinctive, trusted, exciting, reliable or whichever attributes are appropriate to that business.
‘If Coca-Cola were to lose all of its production-related assets in a disaster, the company would survive. By contrast, if all consumers were to have a sudden lapse of memory and forget everything related to Coca-Cola, the company would go out of business.’
While absolute control over a brand is not possible due to outside influences, the intelligent use of design, advertising, marketing, service proposition, corporate culture and so on can all really help to generate associations in people’s minds that will benefit the organisation.
In different industry sectors the audiences, competitors, delivery and service aspects of branding may differ, but the basic principle of being clear about what you stand for always applies.
If your current and target customers remember who you are and what your business stands for they are much more likely to do business with you.
Highlighting a Point of Difference through Brand
Branding is a way of clearly highlighting what makes your offer different to, and more desirable than, anyone else’s.
Effective branding elevates a product or organisation from being just one commodity amongst many identical commodities, to become something with a unique character and promise. It can create an emotional resonance in the minds of consumers who choose products and services using both emotional and pragmatic judgements.
Defining your Brand
- The big idea – what lies at the heart of your company?
- Values – what do you believe in?
- Vision – where are you going?
- Personality – how do you want to come across?
If you can start to answer these questions with clarity and consistency then you have the basis for developing a strong brand.
Of course, an important step in the process of finding the answers to these questions is developing a Strategic Plan for the business… but that’s another story!