Learn from the Big Players
You know all the major multibillion dollar or, in a few cases, trillion dollar corporations. Don’t you? You know about Apple, Coca Cola, PepsiCo, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, HP, Mercedes, Rolls Royce, Vodafone, BA, BT, and others. You know their colours and their logos, and have their websites bookmarked on your phone and web browsers, you know the sound of their jingles and the big models they are paying to sell their identities all over the world. Why do you think these big corporations and their products are easy to identity, even in crowded market settings?
Your business needs maximum visibility.
While it is true that all of them make world class products, it is also true that you may not have used any of these products yourself nor known anyone who has. I don’t have any personal relationship with anyone who drives a Range Rover neither do I drive one myself. I heard about them and bought into the story. Rolls Royce Limited is known for producing high end cars; Apple makes superior phones, run by a super-efficient operating system. You probably already believed that Apple products are superior before you walked through the door of an Apple retail store. That’s the power of branding at play.
The Magic Before the Reality
You need to understand the concept of branding and why your business needs it like your body needs oxygen. Branding is any feature—name, term, design, byline or symbol—that marks out your products or services from those of your rivals. Your brand tells prospective customers who you are, what you represent, who you serve and how you serve them. People want to know what to expect when they buy your products or contract your services, they want to know your unique selling proposition and why they should choose you and not your competition. Remember, it goes beyond pricing, potential customers want to know just about everything they can about your products and services before even knowing your business address or meeting your team. Price, business address and other details only come in when they realise you have what it takes to deserve their commitment.
It is possible that in the past, people may only have cared about your products and no more. These days, customers want more. They want to know how you source your raw materials, to see if it aligns with their values; they want to know your business mission, goals and customer-service approach, and how they would be treated during the pre- and post-transaction periods. The Internet has created millions of empowered customers who use all the internet tools to rate your products and services.
This reality holds true for all businesses—it does not matter which it is and who you serve. Whether you are into publishing, online retail, appliance manufacturing, business consulting, furniture making or education and aviation services, people want to know you, they want to know how associating with you can benefit them and want to be certain they are not violating their ethics by patronizing you. It is your duty to present yourself in the right manner to your customers. Do not blame them for asking too much or wanting to know more than you think they should know. There are plenty of public advocacy campaigns in diverse parts of the world today. Some are interested in preserving the environment, they would prefer to deal with companies that have adopted environmentally friendly policies, others care about social justice; they want to be certain the business they spend their money on is not involved in slavery or forced labour. Others care about children and education. It would be comforting for them when they patronise businesses that support education. You sure know about health and the endless campaign for healthy living. These are some of the seemingly non-business concerns you have to deal with to be competitive today.
Again do not whine about the preferences of your customers. Do not expect them to care only about your superior products, they care for more and it is your duty to tell them you care for more than profit or money. Modern business is about relationships. Every entrepreneur or business manager must be very keen on how his business operations affect the community.
When you align your business with what your customers care about, your next line of duty is to communicate this in as subtle way as possible. They don’t want you turning it into another profit-seeking venture. Such communication of value should reflect on your brand, how your products and services are sold and its support for the environment.
What should I do?
You may ask: How do I present a good image of my business to prospective customers? We have identified business branding as a very important success factor for the big multinationals. If branding is vital to the success of Fortune 500 companies, then you will no doubt agree with me that it is even more important for a growing business. Business branding involves everything you present to the outside world—your logo, business cards, packaging materials, business colours, website and just about everything you want your business to be associated with.
Here’s why you have to take a second look at your current branding materials and consider going for a makeover.
Branding gives you the advantage of distinct visibility. People identify with your brand without asking questions and know instantly what you represent. What message does your logo convey? Efficiency? Speed? Top class customer service? How about your website? Is it easily accessible? What information do customers find in there? All of these are very important and if done right, increases your Returns on Investment significantly.
As an expert in your niche, you know that when people want to spend their hard-earned income, they like to be certain that the person they are handing the money to does what he said he can do, better than anyone else. If you get your branding right, you put your existing and prospective customers at ease.
You will be placing yourself in a vantage position if you present your business as being professionally run, and of course, demonstrate subtly, what you are capable of. Good branding gives you the leverage to charge the right fees and win the respect of clients. Don’t sell yourself short.
Your brand makes it easy to bond with your customers. So many of us have been using mobile phones made by a particular company for as long as we can remember. My dad has never driven any other car except one manufactured by a particular car maker since the late 1970s. He does not care that the competition has better options at more affordable prices. Call it extreme loyalty but that’s the power of branding.
You want values around which your business operations and goals revolve. In branding your business, you articulate your goals and your vision. When you do this, it becomes easier for your employees, suppliers and customers to sail with it. You are most likely to be irregular in just about every aspect of your business operations, from customer service to dispute resolution without properly articulating these values. You can do without the drama, just get it right from day one.
Time to act
There is no question that good branding will benefit your business in more ways than you can imagine. Think about the pride in being the owner of a popular brand, the ease of referral, the retention of a large pool of customers and ease of identification by media agencies. Please, delay no further, give your business a name and a face immediately. Talk to experts here if you need practical assistance and step by step guide on how to go about getting that identity that will propel your growing enterprise forward.