Developing your brand

Putting in place a brand strategy is key to ensuring the success of your company and a genuine, solid identity has a direct impact on your bottom line. Small business owners tend to relate a strong brand and marketing strategy to high cost, but this need not be the case. Read on for our top tips.

A Microsoft survey showed that over a third of UK small businesses admit to having no brand values and those companies with between one and ten employees were the least likely to have built a brand, with a disturbing 58 per cent of this group shunning the creation and communication of brands within the business.

Karl Noakes, director of small business for Microsoft says: ‘Many small firms are not acknowledging that branding – creating awareness of exactly what your business does and how it does it – is just as vital as recruiting employees, attracting investors and chasing sales.’

SmallBusiness.co.uk and bCentral.co.uk offer the following top tips on building a strong brand without spending hundreds on advertising:

Define the personality of your business

Define what your company is like and how you want it to be perceived. To do this, think about who your customers and employees are. What is it that makes your product or service desirable? Why should they choose to come to you instead of your competitors?

This should influence your brand and the values your business stands for. A successful brand makes an emotional connection with your customers and communicates your business’ distinct advantage, which can build customer loyalty.

Don’t make promises you can’t keep

Taking the time to figure out what your business stands for and who you want to target will ensure that your marketing efforts become much more focused. It enables you to communicate to your customers a strong, consistent vision of what you do and the way you do it.

Remember that in order to ensure that your business becomes an established brand, you must fulfil the promises that you are sending to your customer.

Be consistent

You have to ensure the same values, messages and visions are communicated to all of your employees, so that everyone who plays a role within your business is using and communicating the same brand.

Ensure there’s a standard brand policy that is used in all customer-facing activity. You could assign brand responsibility to an employee to make sure the correct branding is followed at all times on whatever marketing materials are produced – from promotional billboards to the logo/image of the company that appears on the customer’s receipt of purchase.

And its not just print materials that are important. Ensuring your branding is present and consistent across your website will ensure that customers get a clear view of your company regardless of how they hear about you or approach you.

Build Recognition

You need to ensure your company personality is recognised at all points of interaction with your customers. Company branding should be prominent and easily identifiable, not only at point of sale through bags or receipts, but also through press releases, e-mail signatures, communications with the customer and presentations.

Make the most of what you’ve got

Implementing a brand strategy does not need to be a costly process. One of the most effective yet simple ways to have a strong brand presence is through your website. Although seven out of ten small firms have a business website, half of them are not using it for marketing purposes.

Worryingly, only one in five small companies have contact information or details about what their business sells/the service it provides on their website. Ensuring that your company logo appears alongside your contact details and product or service information is essential to building a brand presence that will imprint your business on the minds of potential customers.

For more information on marketing and branding click here.

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