Brand by Accident

By Chris Wadsworth

Published in The Source issue 19

Every business has a brand whether it is planned or not. So what does this mean for those businesses that leave it to chance?

Brands are shaped in part by the products and services a business offers along with the marketplace they operate in. For example, someone offering professional services will instinctively present themselves differently to a trades person and both will behave in a way they deem appropriate. This is the beginnings of forming a brand but unfortunately for some businesses this is a far as it goes.

Behaviour and presentation

Your brand can be split into two parts - the way you behave and the way you present yourself.

Behaviour is what drives your reputation and in a nutshell your brand is your reputation. What promises do you make to your clients? Do you promise what your market needs? Are you delivering on your promises? How well do you look after your clients? The experience your clients have with your business and its products will shape their perception of your brand. If you don’t have a strong idea of their wants and needs or if you haven’t established the right values that drive your business then your brand has no direction and will be ineffective.

Presentation is the aspect that is most commonly associated with brands. The logo, graphics, colours, typography and imagery that are used on communications and marketing materials present your brand to the outside world. If done properly people will start to recognise your branding as they come across it over time. But what does your presentation say about your business? Do you look professional? Are you consistent with your presentation? Are you being perceived the way you want to be? Is your branding appropriate for your marketplace?

To get both these aspects of branding right you need to know what your market needs and develop a strategy that positions your business as the best option to meet those needs. Once you have developed a brand strategy that drives how you behave and how you present yourself gaining new clients will become something that is planned rather than left to luck.

Brand investment

Why should you invest in your brand?

Competition – You might have happy clients and good relationships that have been built up over time but no matter how loyal your clients are they could be tempted by an offer from your competition. A competitor that presents themselves professionally and clearly communicates the benefits they offer for needs that your client has would be very tempting, especially if they have the right price structure. By understanding your clients and positioning yourself to continually meet their needs competitors will find it harder to get an audience with your clients and when they do they are less likely to succeed.

Growth – Most businesses need new clients to survive and few prospects talk to only one potential supplier. This is where a strong brand can be the main factor for turning a prospect into a client. In fact a strong brand can bring a prospect to you in the first place. Building a strong reputation in your marketplace for providing the right products and services with the right attitude and communicating this well will bring you the clients you seek, will reduce the time you spend dealing with unsuitable prospects and will improve your conversion rate meaning growth takes less effort and time, and results in more success.

Flexibility – Markets change, new opportunities arise, old products and services fade away. When change comes as a result of a declining market or in the form of a new opportunity a strong brand will help with the transition or expansion. The flexibility of a business to change direction can sometimes be the difference between their success and failure. Not something you want to leave in the hands of fate.

Profitability – A business with a strong brand can charge more for their products or services than their competitors can. For example, a product in a glossy box from a reputable brand will sell for more than the same product in plain brown box from an unknown company, and an unknown finance company offering the same services as high street banks will need to offer better rates to attract customers. If you want to increase profitability it won’t happen by accident.

Every business has a brand

Everyone who engages with your business forms an impression. The key to making business easier and more successful is to have the right offer and to present the right impression for the clients you target.

Posted 5 February 2014

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