In a crowded market-place, you have to stand to get noticed or make your peace with being invisible and forgotten.
“Branding” might seem like just another marketing term to you, but it could mean the difference between feast or famine for your business.
A few decades ago, someone called Valentino Liberace started playing piano and performing in concerts. Legend has it that he was approached by a critic who said to him, ‘You play piano well son, but you’re not memorable.’
Liberace went away, thought about it and returned wearing a suit made of lights that went on to define his every performance and public persona, shooting him to fame and fortune as the top paid entertainer during the 50s, 60s and 70s.
A modern day example would be Lady Gaga: do you think she dresses in those outlandish outfits because she wants to? No, she wants to stand out in a market filled with thousands of pretty blonde girls with averages voices who sing pop songs.
It’s worked for them but will it work for you? How do you make this type of flashy showmanship relevant to your stationery business or your printing company?
What is branding?
Let’s start at the beginning: what is branding. Branding isn’t something that happens organically or by itself; it is the result of a conscious effort by the business to create a perception and an experience that leads to differentiation from competitors and loyalty with a preselected audience of potential buyers or users.
When I ask you how Samsung is different from Apple, at least five things should flash through your mind; from the presentation to how it makes you feel to use it. This is all a by-product of a successful brand strategy. Mediocre branding leads to a mediocre product perception.
Branding is filled with terms like ‘brand equity’, ‘brand assets’, ‘brand value’, ‘brand promise’, ‘brand pillars’ and so on. In order to be as productive as possible, let’s avoid terms that smack of jargon and just focus on the key things.
1. Get a plan of attack together
Why do you think rock stars have managers? These people know what they’re trying to achieve, which types of songs are right or wrong for their image, where they should sing and what their public image is.
Sit down with a brand strategist who understands what you’re trying to achieve and figure out the roadmap together.
Without a strategy, you’re not going to know whether you’re on the right path or not. You need to know where you are at the moment in order to effect change. Your roadmap should cover the key points below. Remember the goal is to be memorable!
2. How are you different?
Every brand needs an element that will make it stand out from competitors. Is it your location or know-how or your wide product range? It might be your cool brand or the quality of the product or experience.
Just another country singer producing cowboy songs? Do a Dolly Parton and differentiate yourself using assets other than just your voice.
Remember that using price as a key differentiator is fine when you first launch your service but isn’t a sustainable strategy when meeting the potential pricing war it will spark between you and your competitors, where ultimately nobody wins.
3. Who are you competing against?
Sun Tzu, the famous military general, said ‘Know Thy Enemy’ and as in war, it is imperative you have an understanding of the competitive landscape in order to find a gap in the market and position yourself therein.
Know who is closest to you in product offering and what they’re offering that might win your customers over to them.
Competitors make you better at what you do; they’re not to be hated or feared but competed against in order to raise your game and make you better at what you do.
Remember, this is all about standing out, so find that gap and take advantage of it.
4. What do your customers think?
Research is powerful and highly underestimated by many businesses.
Find out what your customers think of your company and service before deciding on your new brand roadmap.
- Why do they buy from you?
- Why are they loyal?
This might just be the essence of your brand and a reason for differentiating. You might find that your brand is just fine, and nothing needs to change, or you might realise that you’re about to be overtaken by a competitor.
Research will colour in the landscape you operate in and tell you objectively how you are performing against others.
The other day I walked into a shop and asked the sales rep about their prices, only to have another customer start telling me how great they are and why I should use them. Now that was impressive! You know you’re doing something right when your customers start convincing potential customers to buy from you.
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5. Is your staff living the brand?
Your staff is the most important part of your brand because they are the ones who interact with your customers. If they don’t have the right values and personality you will find your customers shopping elsewhere.
Now that you know what you stand for, the key question is whether your staff has the right personality to match your brand.
Put the right people in the right roles; administrators to deal with tasks and people-oriented staff to deal with humans.
The team at Hirsch’s Home Appliances in Milnerton Cape Town, stand out to me time and time again for their exceptional ‘go-the-extra-mile’ service. Nardo, the head of PR has personally hand-delivered items to me at my offices when they weren’t in stock. This smacks of staff that live the brand.
Ann, the brand manager at Woolworths, Sunset Beach, also drove to my house to drop off items that the checkout clerk failed to pack into my bag, with a bunch of flowers. No wonder she’s won top awards year after year.
6. Barriers to entry
The trick is to make it difficult for competitors to enter the market. Service, friendly staff, product range, brand, all of these things are ways you can wrap up the market so your customers refuse to shop elsewhere.
7. Touchpoint analysis
Assess each point of contact between your company and the client.
- Does your staff greet customers when they walk in, or are they heads-down, working?
- Does your cashier thank the shopper for each purchase?
- Do they go the extra mile to satisfy the customer?
- How long does it take to answer the phone, reply to emails or get work down?
Certain elements are ‘non-negotiables’. Typing errors, mistakes on invoices, pricing mistakes, wrong deliveries, breakages, poor quality; if you don’t have these ‘hygiene factors’ in place it won’t matter how funky your brand or brand strategy are, and it won’t matter how amazing your service or staff are, your business won’t stand out and might not even succeed.
Those who excel at every point win the war for a share of wallet. Good luck!
The First Thing You Should Do When Building Your Brand (Hint: It Isn’t Pick Out A Logo)
The best way to build your brand is to start from the inside out.
When you’re launching a new business, it’s tempting to go straight to the fun stuff – the logo, the colours, the mood board. But, before going down the Pinterest rabbit hole, it’s important to establish the core purpose and belief system of your brand.
Indeed, studies show that companies with purpose grow twice as fast as those with a low sense of purpose. So, a beautifully designed visual brand identity without a clearly defined purpose is like an exquisitely wrapped present that’s … well, empty.
Despite this, a Gallup survey shows that only 41 percent of workers know what their company stands for and how it differs from competitor brands. That’s a problem. Because informed and engaged employees are often the front line ambassadors for a brand, this disconnect can lead to customer confusion or worse, indifference. The snazziest logo in the world can’t save the business that neglects the heart of its brand.
As a brand strategist, one of the first steps I take in developing entrepreneurs’ brands is to help them to establish their core purpose. Having a clearly defined and expressed purpose not only serves as an internal compass that guides their decision-making and strategic direction, but it also acts as a beacon for their ideal customers – making it easier to understand, relate to and remember what the business represents.
Related: Are You A Commodity Or A Brand?
The best way to build your brand is to start from the inside out. It’s like constructing a building: You need a strong foundation. The following three steps will help you to understand and articulate the heart and soul of your brand.
1. Create your mission statement
Articulating your mission is one of the most important, yet often overlooked steps in creating a powerful brand. Simply put, your mission reflects what you’ve set out to do.
What makes a great mission statement? It should be clear, provide some strategic direction and inspire. When crafting your mission, think about your business goals, the value you’d like to bring, whom you serve and how you do it. Ideally, your mission will also be clear enough for people outside your organisation to understand and concise enough for you – and your employees – to remember.
Let’s take a look at how Honest Tea does it:
“Honest Tea seeks to create and promote great-tasting, healthy, organic beverages. We strive to grow our business with the same honesty and integrity we use to craft our recipes, with sustainability and great taste for all.”
The first sentence describes what’s being produced (great-tasting, healthy, organic beverages), while the second sentence touches on important elements of the value the business brings (honesty, integrity and sustainability) and who it serves (for all).
After you’ve written your mission statement, revisit it regularly as you build your brand. You might find that it needs some tweaks as your business grows.
2. Define your vision
If mission is the “what,” then your brand’s vision is the “why.” Your vision is a future-focused statement that paints a vivid picture of what the world will look like once you’ve accomplished your mission. It’s not just inspirational, it’s aspirational. Rallying around a powerful vision can help everyone in an organisation stay motivated, inspired and focused on the big picture when things get tough.
A great way to approach the vision statement is to think about the ultimate impact of the product or service you provide. A good strategy is to focus on the benefit of what you offer. Then dig a little deeper … What is the benefit of that benefit? Keep going until you have a clear picture of what the future will look like when you’ve succeeded. Above all, think big.
Ikea’s vision is:
“To create a better everyday life for the people.”
It’s a deceptively simple-looking statement. For anyone familiar with Ikea, the explanatory statement that follows is unnecessary, but it explains each component of the simple vision statement:
“Our business idea supports this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.”
3. Identify your values
Your brand (or core) values are like the pillars of your company. They are going to help guide your organisation’s actions, influence the workplace culture, help your team to make sourcing and hiring decisions and ultimately impact customer loyalty. Why? Because it’s in our nature to want to align ourselves with people, products and organisations that share our values.
Think about what you stand for – and what you’ll never compromise on. Consider the beliefs and qualities that have a unique, direct and meaningful impact on the way you do business. While there’s no “magic number,” for brand values, more than five can be difficult to remember and internalise, and fewer than three isn’t really enough to give the full picture of your business.
Once you’ve determined your brand values, write them as statements that exemplify how they’re implemented in your business. A great example of this is Starbucks’ values:
- Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome
- Acting with courage, challenging the status quo and finding new ways to grow our company and each other
- Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect
- Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.
Imagine the difference if they had simply listed words like “Inclusion,” “Courage,” “Transparency” and “Accountability,” instead of illustrating these concepts with these descriptive sentences.
It’s not enough to simply slap some values up on your website and call it a day. Successful business owners know that it’s all in the implementation. We must weave our brand’s mission, vision and values into the fabric of our business. Everything we do and say, from our offerings to our marketing to our hiring approach, should not only align with, but reinforce our mission, vision and values.
Once you’ve laid the foundation, other elements, like a logo, will come easier to you, your team and any outside partners.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
How A Branded Car Can Boost Your Business
Below are just some of the ways a branded car can boost your business.
If you own a small business or you have a franchise to run, you know the power of branding. And you likely use it on a regular basis to draw in more clients and retain your current ones. If you understand that getting your brand out there in the eye of the public is important, then you will have looked into unique ways to do so. One of these is to invest in a branded vehicle for your company.
You can speak to the used car dealers in Gauteng and surrounds about which cars are the easiest to brand and move on from there. Be sure to choose branding that reflects your company or you could choose to have your logo incorporated on the vinyl. If you are looking at pre-owned vehicles, a luxury car will help to improve the message of your brand, depending on your industry.
Awareness of your brand is increased
Roadside advertisements are eye-catching, especially if they are on billboards or larger signposts. But when was the last time you actually stopped and noticed one? This is likely because, as a driver, you are paying attention to the other cars rather than advertisements on boards and poles.
Branded vehicles are much more effective at increasing brand awareness because they are noticed more often by other drivers and passengers. If you are sending your company car into the traffic every day, then your brand will be getting more exposure than it would with a billboard. This is because other drivers are noticing it and can spend longer looking your logo and contact details.
People will become familiar with your brand
Consumers would rather purchase from a brand they know or have heard of than from one they know nothing about. And by branding your vehicle, you will create familiarity in consumers, leading to trust and eventually to more customers.
If people know your brand, they will buy from you. You can breed this familiarity by branding your company car so that whenever your staff are out at meetings or making deliveries, the public will notice your brand and company details.
For example, if you sell bespoke wedding cakes and you drive around a certain geographical location on a daily basis, the next bride who lives in that area will recognise your brand and might use you to create their wedding masterpiece.
It creates a positive association
Having a positive brand association is ideal for every business. And vehicle branding can help with this. Once you have chosen your company car from one of your local second-hand car dealerships, you can create a vehicle wrap with your company logo, branding and details on it.
An effective way to create a positive brand association is to ask your staff to park in front of health and wellness centres when going to meetings or high-end shopping centres. You should also always ensure that whoever is driving the company car obeys the road rules and does not cause any accidents on the road. This will show the public that your business or company values people and thus values consumers, giving them a positive association with your brand. It is a simple but effective way to garner new clients and impress current ones.
You will look professional
There is nothing more embarrassing than turning up to a client meeting in a dilapidated car. The first impression that you make on the client will not be positive and you will be entering into an agreement with someone who views your company in a negative light, which is never a good sign.
Having a branded car will make you look professional and will set you aside from the competition. You should look for cars for sale in Gauteng and surrounds with little to no rust or damage before branding the vehicle. You will show the clients that you take your business seriously and want to make an impression on them.
If you are making house calls or delivering goods to a customer, they will feel reassured when seeing a branded car pull up outside. Not only will you look professional, but you will be proud of your company and will want to show it off.
Related: The Economics of Branding
Show the world your style
Aside from helping you look professional, a branded vehicle will show the world your company’s style. You will be able to show clients that you take your work seriously and, because your car is out in traffic, you will garner familiarity with consumers.
People will become more aware of your brand and will have a positive association with your brand and image. So, if you want to boost your business and stand out from the crowd, be sure to look into branding your vehicle and making it shine among normal cars.
3 Keys To Growing Your Brand Via Livestreaming
To do so, here are three key tips on how you can effectively engage them via livestreaming.
On March 2018, hip-hop icon Drake and a who’s-who of celebrity friends – NFL wide receiver Juju-Smith Schuster, rapper Travis Scott, and Twitch mainstay Ninja – set a livestreaming record with 628,000 concurrent viewers who tuned in to watch them play Fortnite: Battle Royale. The milestone was a watershed moment for the new medium, especially for brands: The ability to connect with fans via live video of others performing, playing, or even just talking to the camera had finally come of age.
As household brands like Nike and National Geographic advertise on livestreaming quiz show HQ, many entrepreneurs may mistakenly think the medium is only fitting for large multinationals. This could not be further from the truth. Livestreaming is in fact a great content marketing, branding, and advertising tool for entrepreneurs with businesses of all sizes, precisely because there is such a low barrier to entry. All you need is a camera and some creativity.
Even in places like Africa where internet speeds tend to be lower, leveraging livestreaming as a tool for your brand can pay off great dividends. There are digitally-savvy, upwardly mobile people across the continent who have been early adopters of both international and local livestreaming platforms. And you can reach them.
To do so, here are three key tips on how you can effectively engage them via livestreaming.
1. Make your livestreaming experiential
Some may assume that most of livestreaming is vlogging about your day to the camera. While many users and shows do rely on monologue or dialogue alone, you stand a better chance of attracting an audience if you do something related to your business. Activities that are exotic to the average viewer tend to do particularly well.
One livestreamer from China, for example, opened pearls from caught freshwater mussels. Viewers were mesmerised by the simple act of discovery and bought potential pearl-bearing muscles in droves, turning the once humble businessman into a multi-millionaire. Does your business have “pearls” that would appeal to livestreaming viewers?
2. Treat your livestreaming like a television network
Another major misconception about livestreaming is that it is only appropriate for capturing spontaneous moments or events. While livestreaming does lend itself well to serendipitous video, brands who want to develop a following on the medium need to treat it like a television network. In other words, they must stick to a set schedule, so viewers know when to tune in.
The schedule not even need be particularly demanding – the importance is the regularity. Our flagship quiz show on Kumu – the livestreaming platform we founded out of the Philippines – airs only three times a week. But because we were disciplined in sticking to this time slot, even when it was difficult to do, the quiz show now enjoys some of the highest audiences on our platform.
3. Build your livestreaming tribe
Since livestreaming gives brands the opportunity to flick on a switch and instantly connect with a viewership, they can sometimes neglect to engage other content creators in the community. This would be a huge missed opportunity. While the big brands who turn to community engagement via livestreaming may command all the headlines, there are plenty of ways that any entrepreneur can connect with their peers in the space.
You can offer to guest or co-host a livestreaming show that has a similar audience. You can donate branded giveaways to their viewers. You can even sponsor native content, wherein your brand plays a key part of the conversation or action. All of these community-building efforts will create more direct visibility for your brand, as well as funnel fans to your livestreaming show or channel.
Related: The Seven Rules Of Social Media
As with any digital marketing effort, success will not occur overnight in livestreaming. You need to stay committed and work hard, but the results will be well worth the effort: Unlike with other social media channels, you will be able to connect with potential customers intimately and in real-time. As an entrepreneur, what more can you ask for?
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