Digest 

Friday, November 29, 2013 

How to Build Your Brand


Kampala, Uganda-“I don’t understand branding,” the engineer told me, as we planned his firm’s strategy in my office. “I know that it is important to create a cohesive image for my firm, and I know that people are using social media to accomplish this. However, I fail to understand the processes, and what the benefit is for my company from a financial perspective.”

This is a common challenge for many companies—especially small businesses. Today, I’m going to explore the value of branding and tips to help you strengthen your brand.

What is Branding?

Branding is the process of using visual and written elements to identify a company, product, or service. Examples include the company’s name, logo, and tagline. It helps to differentiate you from competitors, build customer loyalty, strengthen emotional connections with your customers, and establish your credibility, among other things.

How Does Branding Help Me to Make Money?

Branding is an important tool in helping customers to identify and accept your brand. For example, pretend that your new company makes and sells solar lights. You create a series of advertisements for the television and Internet. You launch a social media campaign that includes Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and other popular tools. You make brochures and distribute them throughout your target geographic region. You successfully educate your target market about the benefits of solar lights.

But what happens when your target customers go to the store to buy a solar light? Perhaps they find several different brands from which to choose. If your branding is weak—if customers don’t remember or accept your brand—they may select a competitor’s product. The money you invested in promoting your product would be wasted.

What is Branding?

Branding is the process of using visual and written elements to identify a company, product, or service. Examples include the company’s name, logo, and tagline. It helps to differentiate you from competitors, build customer loyalty, strengthen emotional connections with your customers, and establish your credibility, among other things.

How Does Branding Help Me to Make Money?

Branding is an important tool in helping customers to identify and accept your brand. For example, pretend that your new company makes and sells solar lights. You create a series of advertisements for the television and Internet. You launch a social media campaign that includes Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and other popular tools. You make brochures and distribute them throughout your target geographic region. You successfully educate your target market about the benefits of solar lights.

But what happens when your target customers go to the store to buy a solar light? Perhaps they find several different brands from which to choose. If your branding is weak—if customers don’t remember or accept your brand—they may select a competitor’s product. The money you invested in promoting your product would be wasted.

It is important to have a strong brand image that shows your target market how you are different from your competitors, establishes the value of your products and/or services, and creates brand loyalty.

What is Brand Loyalty?

Brand loyalty is achieved when customers repeatedly purchase your products and services instead of ones offered by your competitors, usually due to favorable past experiences with your company. The next time you buy toothpaste, consider which brand you choose. Do you always choose the same brand? If so, why? Do you like the flavor? Did you have a positive experience with their customer service department? Is it the brand that your mother purchased when you were a child?
Elements like these can create a sense of commitment to a company. This loyalty can be so deep that customers will continue to buy the product even if it is significantly more expensive than other brands.
We want to achieve brand loyalty with our customers; it costs much less money to keep an existing client than it does to earn a new one. Also, satisfied customers may tell others about the quality of our products and services, resulting in more customers.

How Can I Strengthen My Brand?

There are many steps that we can take to strengthen our company’s brand. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:
Define Your Firm in Three Words
With your team, list all of the words that define your company. See the “Who We Are” sidebar for a list of adjectives to start the process. Reduce the number of adjectives until you have three words that best describe your company. If your company is well-established, consider asking your clients for their input.
Let’s return to the example of the solar light company. Imagine that you are the CMO, and you choose the following three words:

Innovative. Ethical. Dependable.

Everything your company does needs to connect with these three words. Your lights should include cutting-edge materials and technology—preferably invented by your team. You lights should be durable, with good warranties. Your customer service department should be respond quickly to customers’ needs in a positive, fair manner. Your marketing materials should demonstrate these concepts.
Humanize Your Brand
Marketers love catch phrases. In the last few years, many of us have embraced the saying: “humanize your brand.” This concept describes the need to connect with consumers on a personal basis. Social media creates unique opportunities for us to accomplish this. Here are a few suggestions:
Personally respond to customer posts and messages in a timely manner.
Involve customers in product creation. Examples include asking them to vote on product colors or choose the topic for a free monthly seminar related to your services.

Share photos, videos, and anecdotes to help customers feel like they know your team. (Make sure you have employees’ permission first.)
Share your company’s history on your website.
Be unique. Show your company’s personality. (Remember those three words!)

Focus on Your Customer

Have you ever had the experience of meeting someone who only talks about herself? She never asks how you are, or offers to help you with a problem that you’re having. Instead, she constantly talks about how wonderful her life is, how many people love her, and so on.
Like this inconsiderate person, many companies make the mistake of constantly talking about themselves to their customers. Regardless of how wonderful your company is, customers will become tired of hearing this message on a regular basis.
Instead, focus on the customer. Work to identify problems that your customers are experiencing, and find ways to solve those problems with your products and services. It is okay to share good news with your customers—like when you win awards—but limit the number of times you make this announcement. Always focus on the benefits that your products and services bring to the customer.
When you know who you are as a company, interact with clients on a personal level, and focus on meeting your clients’ needs, you are taking action to build your brand. Keep reading Marketing Moxie for more branding guidance.Sidebar:

Who we are

How would you best describe the personality of your firm? Circle all of the words below that apply to your company. Next, add any other words that are not included in this list. Finally, reduce the adjectives that you have selected until you have the three words that best describe your company.

  • Adventurous

  • Artistic

  • Bold

  • Capable

  • Casual

  • Chic

  • Classic

  • Compassionate

  • Conservative

  • Consistent

  • Contemporary

  • Creative

  • Cutting-Edge

  • Dependable

  • Dynamic

  • Ethical

  • Excellent

  • Expert

  • Fashionable

  • Focused

  • Formal

  • Fun

  • Global

  • Innovative

  • Inspiring

  • Intelligent

  • Luxurious

  • Modern

  • Playful

  • Powerful

  • Reliable

  • Responsible

  • Risk-Takers

  • Serious

  • Sophisticated

  • Traditional

  • Trustworthy

  • Unique

  • Versatile


Hope Wilson, CPSM, is president of Wilson Business Growth Consultants, a firm that provides international business strategy and communications services. Specializing in infrastructure development, Hope has received 11 international awards for her work. Have a question about marketing? Email: hope@wilsonbgc.com

By Hope Wilson, Friday, November 29th, 2013