The first thing to understand is why you need to brand your company. There is no essential need, but the fact is that without branding, you remain a commodity. No entry barriers, great pressure on pricing, and no security for the future of the business.
Now, if you have sufficiently explored the benefits or otherwise of being a commodity player, let’s get on with the branding, and see what you need to do to do it effectively and drive your sales efforts.
1. You are your Brand. Your brand is You
Branding is essentially your identity. For the consumers. For your staff. For your investors. For your community. For your markets. For your trade. For the media. In fact, it is your identity for everyone.
2. Brand is perception. Perception is driven by positioning
Positioning is what you are and what you stand for a particular target segment of the market. Your positioning should identify a problem that you solve for your target market. Once you have positioned yourself, stick it over the long run until you become the go-to people to solve that particular problem. Your positioning and branding extends to all with whom you interact.
3. Create a tag line that captures your value proposition and positioning
Branding is about being one thing to a specific audience – not about being all things to all people. Brands are becoming specialised today – So define your niche, define your value proposition and capture it interestingly in your tag line. Getting professional help in this is definitely advisable, though you can do it yourself if you have a way with language.
4. Planning the personality of your brand is as important as its amplification
The brand consists of two components – the persona of the brand and its amplification. While it is true that it is amplification that brings about public awareness, it the cohesiveness of the brand, the type of language it speaks and its innate personality that makes it attractive. Focus on the personality first, define it, flesh it out before you go and amplify.
5. Taking the brand to the customer or bringing the customer to the brand
Traditionally, amplification of the brand required you to have a presence in mass media. That was when you put an ad in Times of India and you reach all the people you wanted to. Fragmentation of media and shorter audience attention spans for advertising have made media choice very difficult. Interestingly today, with Social media and Youtube virals, you can get the audience to come to your media property – reversing the logics and business rationale of media spends. While traditional media is always a part of the brand awareness program, use social media advertising to cement your brand communication with the audience.
6. How do you build brand equity?
Brand equity is the value the company gains from having a well known and recognised brand in its stable. The brand of the company makes selling easier, and gives the company a dedicated revenue stream that it might not have got were it to sell the product or service as a commodity. The brand Equity is also valued and many people consider it to be more valuable in the long run than the other assets of the company. Elements that can be included in the valuation of brand equity include (but not limited to) changing market share, profit margins, consumer recognition of logos and other visual elements, brand language associations made by consumers, consumers’ perceptions of quality and other relevant brand values.
7. Once you build a brand persona, live it 24X7
You cannot say one thing in your tag line and be another. People will dump you. Once you position yourselves, you have to live, breathe, sleep that position. So for example, if you are a price cutter, you have to be the cheapest deal in the market.
8. Use frugal means of amplification and publicity
There is no need to sacrifice big bucks on media spends. Good communication can be done in a guerrilla fashion – remember mouthshut.com and its ubiquitous presence on the back of rickshaws? Use frugal means to amplify. Here are some ideas:
- Start a Blog and popularise it.
- Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest are all good ways to connect without spending great deal of money
- Go viral with videos on You Tube – connect to your customers through interesting virals
- Use Press Releases to broadcast events and happenings
- Use Link exchanges to increase your website ranking
- Use SEO to optimise your website for key words and phrases
- Get yourself reviewed and have people talking about your company and what you do
- Offer free downloads on your website – and give away vital information that will help potential buyers
- Do something outrageous and get yourself noticed – Randy’s Affiliate Marketing Programs Blog discusses a few of the more famous outrageous branding ideas, from Alex Tew’s Million Dollar Homepage (the original dollar-a-pixel site) to John Freyer’s All My Life for Sale (a wildly-successful eBay project)
- Do guerrilla marketing – One client of mine who could not afford to take a stall at an expensive exhibition took up a room in a hotel next to it and had four people distributing pamphlets inviting the audience at the exhibition to his room
- Become a speaker at conferences and events related to your industry – become an opinion leader.
9. Check your marketing communications, website, presentations and other collaterals – make sure it sells, not tells. Getting professional help with your communication is important. Don’t get your salesman to write your copy, don’t get the cheapest designer around – pay for professional help and see the returns it gets.
10. Make your presence across free directory listings
Put up your corporate profile everywhere where it is relevant and piggy back on the popularity of the directory sites.
Launched 9 months ago, Hatch, a services focused business incubator believes in what is called an Invest Mentoring engagement model. They provide hands-on mentoring and guidance almost like co-promoters bringing an entire ecosystem along with it – investors, corporate connections, suppliers and service providers, government liaison, etc.
More about Hatch, here.
You can also visit their website, here.