A brand is a persistent, unique business identity that encompasses the personality, quality and origin of the business. Before you think to yourself “I know that,” consider this: what is your brand? Are you instantly recognisable to your clients? Do they instinctively understand what your brand values are?
Continuously evolving brands determine what consumers eat, wear, drive, and more than ever, how consumers choose to lead their lives. They make a difference to how we act, and if you aren’t leveraging that, you’re losing out.
Brands create an experience, and these experiences form part of the equity of the brand. It fosters a strong relationship between the consumer and the brand, which means brands can ultimately become part of a consumer’s life, and this is the key to success for many businesses. Although every business has a trading name or a specific logo, only a minority of those businesses have what could truly be considered a brand.
Although brands are often associated with big businesses, they also play an integral role in differentiating an SME’s products or services from their competitors.
It’s simple: A brand that captures your mind gains behaviour. A brand that captures your heart gains commitment. Having a strong brand enables SMEs to not only distinguish their product or service from their competition, but also creates consumer confidence and loyalty in purchasing their products. This assists the business in exercising greater control over promotion and distribution of the brand. Here are the five key rules to creating a winning brand.
1. Timeless brands make time for their customers
Growing the customer grows the brand and the business. ‘Timeless’ brands are created by consumers. To ensure that this relationship is formed, a brand must recognise that its customers are not external ‘targets’ to be aimed at, but part of the brand essence, just as much as the company and its products.
Make time for your customers when you include their interests in key decisions on company policies, innovation, product and performance. Time spent factoring your consumers into your brand is time well spent. Your unique brand emerges when your customers are part of your business.
2. Simplicity is the new black
Keeping the design of a brand classic in look and feel rather than trendy allows businesses to adapt to market changes more easily, taking into account elements such as typeface style, use of photography or imagery and messaging. Brands are moving towards a more simplified, cleaner design. A simpler brand will enable consumers to create brand ‘moments’ that are memorable and indirectly drive future sales.
3. Strong internal branding
Employees must understand the value and origin of a brand in order to effectively communicate its offering to the market. If the internal branding process is weak then you may lose the impact of your brand’s unique offering. SMEs have an advantage here: With a maximum of 250 employees, they are able to become more actively involved in being ambassadors of the brand. Engaged and motivated employees who understand the brand and where it is going, translates into happy customers. Helping employees to feel equipped and motivated to support the business’s brand may be one of the most effective ingredients in building market share and a timeless brand.
4. Create an identity
The fundamental idea behind having a brand is that everything a business does, owns and produces, should reflect the values and aims of the business, thus creating a unique identity. It is this consistency in look and feel of a brand that will aid SMEs to compete with already established brands. Use symbolic graphics, colours and typefaces within marketing collateral. Meaningful text will express what your business is about and help to give depth to your brand development process.
5. Build trust into your brand
A brand will fail to achieve its goals if it does not gain its market’s trust. Trust is a fundamental block in building your brand and contributing towards revenue growth. Establishing a firm foundation, creating and maintaining solid relationships, displaying competency and value will assist in gaining consumer trust. That trust will motivate consumers to buy more, be eager to try new products and perhaps even be willing to pay more.