I’m going to attempt to talk about brand without using any of the usual marketing phrases and buzzwords that go with it. Stay with me and let’s remove a little of the bullshit.
Branding is a way to define your business.
The brand you create should define your business to yourself, to your customers and to your staff. That’s important, right? It brings everything together, it unites and gives a strong platform to build on.
The power of the black jersey is what makes the All Blacks such a successful team and such a powerful brand – it unites those that wear it.
When you create a new business, there’s a whole lot of forms to fill in. The bank wants a business plan. The Accountant wants a profit forecast and the government wants an IRD number. Your customers and staff want a Brand Definition.
Your Brand Definition will help guide your future decision making and define your growth journey. Spend time on it and really think about it. Once completed it will actually make your life easier – you’ll know what images to use, you’ll know what to talk about on social media, you’ll know how to treat a customer issue and you’ll know what that leaflet should look like. Once you have your brand defined then you have a solid platform from which to work. And because you and your colleagues are all on the same page, you’ll probably succeed.
Breaking it down
Brand is a pretty complex thing – a mixture of science and more wishy-washy stuff. So let’s break it down and make life easier.
Brand as a person
If like many NZ small businesses, you are your brand then take a good hard look at yourself and write down what you’re about and what you stand for and what’s important to you. Why did you get into business and why this particular business. It’s what Simon Senick refers to as the Importance of Why. It’s worth searching out his Ted Talk ‘How great leaders inspire action’ to get inspired!
Brand as a symbol
For some this is the fun stuff – what do you want your brand to look like? What symbol or icon reflects your brand or differentiates it in the market. You want to get noticed and you want something that customers will recognise and remember.
The key here is to define your identity and set some rules around its use. The reason Apple is so successful is that they have created a very strong brand identity (same for Coke too, but the product is killing them now – more on this later). Create a brand bible document that defines the exact colour of your logo and how it can be used. Don’t let anyone mess with your brand. Stick to your own rules.
Brand as a product
Consider your product or products that you sell under your brand – do they match the brand definition? Think about features and benefits and consider how your products are different from competitor products – this becomes your niche and means you can focus attention on a smaller space – now you’re a bigger fish in a smaller pond. This is a battle you can win, easily!
Brand as an organisation
Your brand definition needs to flow through your entire organisation. The power of brand lies in brand consistency, so make sure you deliver your brand promise every step of the way, from customer service, through to product despatch, through to warranties and even invoicing.
Because brand lies at the heart of any business, it’s important to define it in the early stages of setting up your business. What they don’t tell you is that in defining your brand, you’ll create a business that’s easier to sell. That ‘goodwill’ you’re looking to recognise can come from your brand.
Brand Strategy with VOLOM
We work with SME’s to develop a brand strategy. Sometimes we work with them at the beginning of their journey, but usually they’re already on their way. Often we find they’ve stopped growing and can’t understand why. The answer is likely quite simple. There might be no cohesiveness and no shared plan. Sometimes the product has changed or evolved, but the brand hasn’t kept up. Sometimes the business has grown with more staff, but as a result the power of the brand has weakened.
We help businesses to find direction and definition, and then create a marketing plan they can share in and stick to and that we can help them action. But it all starts with getting the basics right.
Take a moment to define your brand, and write it down. It’s only in writing it down that you gain clarity.
Jason has over 15 years marketing experience, gained both here and in the UK. Over the past 4 years he has had General Management roles running two well known marketing agencies specialising in sales promotion, brand experience, public and media relations, and social media. He has worked on a wide variety of campaigns, and specialises in integrated creative thinking across multiple channels. His approach is always collaborative, committed and hands-on. Jason works along side Emily Willis, who happens to be both his wife and a VOLOM marketer!