May 18, 2014 8:42 am
One of the most common misconceptions we come across as a marketing agency is that branding is only for the big boys and is too complicated and expensive for SMEs. Nothing could be further from the truth; many businesses of all shapes and sizes have achieved great success from developing a well-known brand within their marketplace.
What is a brand?
Many people are under the impression that a brand is an expensive logo, but it’s so much more than that, your logo and the colours/designs that you use represent the kind of business you are, your culture, and values. The logo is simply an image, a brand encompasses everything.
The aim of your brand is to get people to associate it with the products and services you provide. It should help distinguish you from your competitors and help customers choose you over them. Not only that, it should create a positive emotional response within your customers and potential customers.
Examples of brands that have nailed this are:
Disney – the brand just makes you feel happy
BMW – quality, status, success
Amazon – reliability, variety, fast delivery, quality
Visual brand representation
Logos, colours, and fonts all represent the visual aspect of your brand. To make these effective for your business, and to begin to build a brand that is recognisable and linked to quality products and services, you need to make sure it is used correctly.
You can maximise the visual representation of your brand by adding it to everything you put out into the marketplace, from your website and email signatures, to business cards, product manuals, and building signage. Download our branding signals document for more ideas about where to use your brand.
Emotional brand response
We touched on the emotional response of brands earlier but what is behind this response? The visual representation of your brand, i.e. your logo, is the vehicle for people recognising the company but it, in itself, will not create an emotional response.
The emotional response comes from a number of factors
- Your products and services – why do people buy what you offer, is it a symbol of success, does it make them feel good etc..?
- Your customer service – how do your customers feel when they are dealing with your company?
- Your staff – do your employees enhance your brand and the customer experience through the way that they act internally and externally?
- The messages you put out into the marketplace – what tone of voice do you use, what response are you trying to get from your audience, why should they buy your products and services?
The implications of not building a strong brand
The implications of not investing in and building a professional brand can be far reaching. Today business is more competitive than ever and with the ability to get your business online and out to the masses instantly, you need a strong brand to back up the messages about your products and services.
Some of the main implications of not having a strong brand include:
- You will get lost in the crowd – If you don’t build a strong brand you can lose out to your competitors and get lost in the crowd. People need to recognise and relate to your business, branding is one of the key ways to begin building recognition and relationships with your customers. A strong brand, which incorporates everything mentioned in this article, will enable you to stand out from your competitors, therefore increasing interest in your business and what it has to offer.
- Your products and services won’t seem as valuable to customers – one of the key benefits of a strong brand is that it actually adds value to your products and services. Why else would we pay so much more for branded items, such as coffee, when the supermarket’s own brand is half the price?
- Not having a brand, even if it’s a personal one, can impact on customer relationships – your customers will be filtering a lot of promotional information throughout the day, you need to have something up your sleeve that will make them sit up and take notice. A strong brand is a great start.
- Harder to establish loyalty from customers – in some marketplaces and for some products and services brand loyalty is everything, from going to a particular hair salon to only buying a specific brand of cola. Building brand loyalty increases repeat business and creates ambassadors for your company.
If you are looking for some expert help with your branding, call Michelle now on 0330 088 9277. Start building your brand today!
There’s no excuse for just being lazy!
August 12, 2013 1:03 pm
Years ago, Siouxsie Sioux (of punk & goth-pop fame, for the benefit of younger readers, and by default, showing our age) commented that people just don’t pick holes out of society anymore. Perhaps we’re all becoming lazy. Lazy with our marketing too? Well we’d hope not…
There are many famous and amusing marketing blunders that spring to mind …Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux using “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux” in one US ad campaign, and Vauxhall didn’t think to change their Nova model’s name so when it launched in Spain the locals thought it was a car called “doesn’t go”.
Well the Ketchup team were out and about in Birmingham in July and saw this lovely campaign The Big Bandage which is an initiative to raise support for the work of Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
Great idea, really nice branding which is consistent across their web presence as well as this ambient media – and this was a particularly novel way of taking the message to the people – but something was wrong. And it was one of those things we’d spot – picky as we are.
The last time we used a safety pin in the office was to hold Gary’s shirt closed when he realised he’d lost a button in a critical place, just before an important client meeting. And so we can say with some confidence that the safety pin holding the bandage around the injured tail of our four legged cow friend above was, in fact, the wrong way around.
We marketing folk can’t be perfect all of the time, but there’s no excuse for just being lazy.
If you need an injection of marketing brilliance, ask our (ever so picky!) team to come and help you with your next marketing campaign; just call us on 0330 088 9277 or contact Michelle here.
March 15, 2013 5:20 pm
A wise man once wrote “Loyalty is for the dogs. Count me among the cats. And count me twice—once for each of my faces.”
The truth is, that with our purses and wallets having been squeezed over the last few years, our buying decisions are perhaps not as straightforward as they once were. But when I recently overheard the owner of our local farm shop proudly telling a customer they’d be launching a loyalty card next month which would give shoppers a discount on their basket price, it took all the self-discipline I could muster to not to go running up to him and plead with him to reconsider. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against small businesses adopting successful practices of larger businesses, but let me tell you why I think this particular scheme is a bad idea.
How many of those plastic rewards cards have you got crammed into your purse or wallet? I seem to have more loyalty cards than bank cards. The reason why stores like Boots and Tesco introduced these kinds of schemes wasn’t to reward loyalty. Oh no. The ingenious truth is that when we swipe our loyalty cards at the checkout, we’re giving away hugely valuable data about our habits as shoppers – what products we buy, how often, what incentives we take advantage of, how we pay etc. Data like this is priceless. The stores can build up a detailed picture of their customers, categorise us and send us tailor-made offers based on our shopping history to encourage us to return to the store and buy more stuff. And they see which vouchers and offers we use and which we don’t. So every time we go back in the shop they are finding out more and more detail about us. It’s actually a bit creepy.
So why shouldn’t my local farm shop do the same? Well, that’s because they won’t be collecting and harvesting all of that important data using an expensive EPOS system. What they’ll be achieving is something quite different. There are, broadly, 2 types of customer at the local farm shop. The first type is those people who support the shop because they want to see it succeed, like the produce and the whole experience of shopping there. The second type of customer is the one who use the local shop to top-up their weekly supermarket shop. That’s not to say that this second group of customers isn’t as valuable, but you probably aren’t going to change their buying behaviour any time soon. The farm shop is a single store, not part of a big chain. The people who own it, as they serve you at the till, see with their own eyes who is buying what, how regularly they use the shop, gather feedback and ideas, so they don’t need a complex computer system and computerised systems to give them that customer insight.
So what does the loyalty card achieve? Actually, what it will potentially achieve is what worries me. It’ll mean that every customer who has a card will be contributing a smaller amount of profit to the business. Which means that the farm shop will need to increase the number of customers and volume of sales to achieve the same level of profit as before they introduced the card. And when you’re located in a rural area, that’s not easy.
So does brand loyalty still exist? Yes. Some of the time. But it’s not as simple as it might first appear and these days loyalties are tested almost hourly. And it depends on which face we have on.