Brand building is one of the key steps towards effective marketing, especially for small businesses.
Dr. R. Kay Green argues a brand is the power of a company on paper, in person, on the airwaves, or on screen.
She adds “it is the extension of all marketing materials attempt to project. Brands work the same way whether large or small. The brands that succeed are the ones that are unique, but they’re also the ones that are authentic. A brand must always come from the heart. It must define the essence of what the company is. A brand will only succeed if it represents the true picture of the company. “
From her experience, she says, “a brand is a direct representation of the company’s products as well as the promise about what will be delivered to customers or clients. The branding goal can’t be achieved if it is not in tune with what is being offered.”
Green offers these key insights into how to develop a brand that is true to the company’s mission.
- Determine the vision and purpose. The basic question is: “What is the business really about?” The goal of successful entrepreneurs is almost always to make something happen first and foremost. So what is it that the company’s marketing efforts want to make happen? Answer that question honestly and thoroughly, then write it down in the fewest number of words possible.
- Build the right network. The point to take away from this segment is that not everyone belongs in the company’s network. Some people can’t help the company. Some people won’t deliver what they promise and others are just clutter for a contacts list. So build a network, but make sure everyone that stays in it is right for the company and its business.
- Conduct a SWOT Analysis. A SWOT Analysis is a method often attributed to strategic planning that calls for the analyzer to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) involved in a business venture, project, or in this case, brand. With a SWOT Analysis, a small business leader can create a detailed and honest assessment of where the brand soars and where it suffers. This also identifies key avenues through which a company might grow that brand, and of course determine potential threats to brand awareness and uniqueness.
- Determine the target market. Identify the most profitable segment of market that is likely to purchase the company’s product or service. Once this question is the company can craft an effective strategy to attract these target consumers. A small business leader must be clear on who is being targeting and how to attract these consumers.
- 5Determine who the competition is. Sometimes the best answers to brand questions can be found out in the field. Often, if a company is stuck on what the brand should be, the best way is to study what the competition is doing. It could be that there’s something specific about their brand that might help a small business leader to shape the brand. Maybe it is a perceived shortfall on the part of the competition’s brand—one that will fit nicely into the brand that the company is trying to create. That is certainly something to capitalize on. Perhaps through a survey into target market, it may be determined a flaw in something the competition is doing. Again, that is something that can be used to the company’s competitive advantage.
- Remember the Three C’s for branding. The Three C’s for branding are Clarity, Consistency, and Constancy. With regard to clarity, brand image, purpose, and message must be unassailably clear. When people see, think about, or learn about the brand, it is important to want them to know immediately and exactly what it stands for. Consistency is a matter of keeping the message uniform. A brand can’t be presented in print differently than in person or on the radio/television. Constancy is a matter of getting the message out there to the point where it is almost ubiquitous. It means carefully considering how to position the brand to where it can have the most lasting impact.
- Conduct a brand assessment. Ask twenty customers to name one word that they would use to describe the brand. If the twenty responses all come back different, there is work to be done to build Consistency. If the large majority of them don’t meet the message the company was hoping to send, then Clarity needs improvement.
- Deliver an authentic self. When building brand awareness, the company must deliver an authentic self. Be original, be yourself, and be honest. The more the authentic self brought to the table, the more successful the company’s efforts will likely become.
- Understand value. There is only one company “you.”. That has value and that has power—but only if the small business leader knows what is his or hers own personal value and power is. What does the company bring to the table that no one else can? Why would someone want to invest in the company? What makes the company different from everyone else? These are all questions whose answers belong in the brand consideration.
- Define the positioning strategy. When customers think about the brand, what kinds of thoughts should be there? When the answer to that question is in mind, the company is in position to craft a brand that will reach its target market effectively. Remember, however, that it’s important to conduct a brand assessment every quarter to ensure that the message is being delivered and received properly.
Greene adds this final point, “don’t attempt to build your brand like anyone else. Be authentic. If you can be open and honest with yourself about your personal value, you won’t need to fudge facts on your brand. Focus on your passions. Determine what it is that you’re inherently good at, what value you bring to the table, and how you can make an impact in your chosen market.”
Dr. R. Kay Green is CEO/President of RKG Marketing Solutions, a professor of marketing and author of the new book, I’ve Been Called the B* Word… Now What Do I Do? 13 Rules for the New-Age Professional Woman; see www.ivebeencalledthebword.com, barnesandnoble.com and amazon.com.