Brands – what’s all the fuss about?

choosing brandsAs with people, brands are the sum of all interactions they have with customers and prospective customers says Adéle Maritz.

There is a famous and very true quote from the American poet Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. The same holds true for a business and strikes very close to the core of what a brand is meant to achieve.

However that would mean that a brand is much more than a logo, tag line or audio jingle. Indeed it is – think of your favourite brand, whether it’s a luxury car, sportswear or a restaurant. Inevitably the thought conjures up an emotion, the same would be true for your least favourite brand. It’s the same type of feelings you would experience when thinking of a person. That is because as with people, brands are the sum of all interactions they have with customers and prospective customers. These interactions include visual elements such as logos, signage and store design, but also perceptions, quality of products / services, reliability, social involvement and innovation to name but a few.

In other words the way your brand is experienced and the belief that it will be an experience that will remain consistent in future.

Up to this point it might all sound fabulous and exciting, but where do you start? When developing a new or evaluating existing brand strategies there are key components that should be included:

WHY? What is the fundamental purpose behind your business that inspires everybody involved in the business to work towards the same goal? Even more importantly why would customers and potential customers believe your promise?

HOW? How are you different from your competitors? How can your business stand out in a crowded market place? How does your brand fit into a larger brand portfolio? How does your brand support your approach to product development? How can it evolve over time?

WHO? Who are your consumers and what do they desire? What drives your target market and are any of their needs currently not being met in your environment? Do you need to cater for smaller sub-groups within your larger target market?

WHAT? What are your non-negotiable values? What is the fundamental idea that you own in your customers’ minds? As what are you being presented, or rather what type of personality is your business reflecting? What will you need to bring your brand alive in the form of creative elements?

WHERE? Where are the points of contact with consumers that enables the above points to be brought to life? Where are they searching for, shopping at (environment) and consuming (experience pre- and post-decision to buy) your brand? Can you answer all these questions for your business? Do your staff and marketing efforts reflect the same consistent message across all your brand touch points? Fabulous if the answer is yes, if the answer is no there are huge potential for future growth.

For a smaller business wanting to grow and accelerate the brand building phase, becoming part of a franchise might be a good idea. Franchise brands, as with almost everything in life comes with a set of pros and cons. Customers are more likely seek out the reliability and familiarity of well-known brands and big budget national marketing campaigns are sure to drive feet to your business. On the other hand your unique brand story, brand experience and value currently attached to your brand will be lost.

It is a proven fact that brand experience affects customer satisfaction and loyalty. Are you trying to increase your customer base or to connect and engage better with existing customers to grow your returning customer sales? Are your efforts successful? If not the solution might lie in your branding efforts. If you want more engagement with those you wish to do business with, you have to build the strongest brand in your space … and that is what the fuss is about.

AUTHOR: Adéle Maritz

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