SmallBusiness.co.uk and Stefan Morrison, creative project manager at Xpress Image Communications, offer the following answers to commonly asked questions on effective branding:
Why is branding so important and what are the benefits to my business?
Successful branding is all about promoting your strengths as a company and has a number of tangible benefits. Every business wants to be the customers’ first choice. Developing a strong brand and building a positive image of your company can be the key to attracting customers to your products or services and differentiating your business from your competitors.
Pitching your brand correctly can increase your chances of getting repeat business from new valued customers and help to build relationships with existing ones.
Customers tend to trust strong brands and stick with them. They develop an affinity for a brand they have had a positive experience with, so it is crucial that the business consistently lives up to its values.
For example, if the brand is positioned as sophisticated, cutting edge and modern, but the company website is out of date and very basic, this can have a detrimental effect on the brand and diminish customer loyalty.
How can I strengthen my brand and manage it successfully?
A company’s brand is more likely to be successful if it is continually reviewed and updated. Look for opportunities for improvement based on customer feedback and pay attention to your clients’ needs. Change is inevitable within the fluctuating world of business and companies shouldn’t be afraid to move with trends in the market.
It is important to actively seek regular feedback from customers to find out how your brand is perceived and whether they feel your business delivers on its promises.
A complicated and contradictory brand will only confuse customers so it is imperative that you keep it simple, focusing on a small number of key values. The message you convey in all advertising, brochures and stationery should constantly reinforce the same message.
My company has just expanded its client services significantly. Is this a good time to rebrand?
Acquisitions, changing markets or new products can provide good opportunities for realigning your brand. During changes within the company it can be necessary to reposition the business in its market and rebranding is an effective way to do this.
It is not always a straightforward process and may involve creating a whole new identity for a company. This means more than just changing a name, creating a new logo or devising a snappy slogan – it’s about reflecting and portraying the values of an organisation.
It is vital that you focus on what your customers want and how you can deliver it. Ask clients why they like doing business with you and what their main reasons are for working with you. Is their choice based on price or on efficiency and quality of service?
My company is a well-established business with a traditional image and recognised brand. How can I update it without losing my brand identity?
Brands have a natural lifecycle and appealing to a new, younger market is important to the success of both growing businesses and well-established companies. A firm’s value can erode as a result of new or more aggressive competition and can also become dated.
Rebranding can bring vital new energy to the business, so it is important to work closely with a design team to ensure that they encompass your company’s principles and personality.
Rebranding doesn’t have to mean a complete overhaul of company image and corporate identity but more a modernisation of existing characteristics. Think of Marks and Spencer and the way that the company was able to update its image with a modern ad campaign following a period of low sales, without losing sight of its core values.