Branding is something many small to midsize businesses overlook from a priority standpoint. Even the smallest one or two person operation in trades such as plumbing, janitorial services, or lawn maintenance are examples of brand building opportunities. Your business name over time carries goodwill, the reputation of a company, and can often be the deciding factor for customers seeking products and service.
Startups and 100 year old companies face the same challenges with brand building. Customers make an important association with the business name or tagline and the products and services they provide. Take, for example, companies like Nike®, Coca-Cola®, UPS®, and Ford®. Their company names have become synonymous with the products and services they offer.
Your brand is important and BridgeHouse Marketing can not only help you identify branding opportunities, but we can help build it out over time so new and existing customers alike develop a deep loyalty to your brand which translates to incremental and consistent sales growth.
What is a brand and why should you be concerned? It's you, your business, what your business does and what it sells. Branding doesn't stop there, any facet of day to day operations is an opportunity to build a brand that customers, staff, and competitors will notice.
Small businesses often overlook the critically important opportunity to establish themselves and their offerings as a brand. At the end of the day, what is that your customers will remember? The product you sold? The service you performed? The customer service you provided? The warranty you offered?
Each one of those in their own right, or collectively, represent a brand. Building customer loyalty to your business means consistently and effectively marketing the brand(s) wherever possible. Over time, this will be the reason customers return despite heavy competition. Thus, sustainable revenue for you and your business.
Goodwill takes years to develop and is nearly impossible to quantify, yet it is perhaps one of the most valuable resources possessed in business. With trust in a brand, moreover loyalty, customers are compelled to become pro bono sales agents intent on using their testimonials to increase awareness.
Building goodwill starts by simply doing an excellent job at that which is what you do. If work ethic, timeliness, or customer service is failing on any level, then the goodwill meter plunges backwards often irreparably.
A dedicated employee training program will help establish the company mission, and provides a standard for quality control. The next step is carefully planning marketing and advertising campaigns that emote the brand's goodwill to ensure repeat business now and well into the future.
Brand building by way of products is the most widely recognized strategy and for good reason. If you have ever worn Nike® shoes, or driven a Ford® truck, or enjoyed a Coca-Cola®, then you understand the importance of a branded product.
Before you get all starry-eyed trying to invent the next big multi-billion dollar brand of (insert any product idea), relax for a moment. Look around, your business probably offers a number a great products already that could use some help. For the family owned diner, what is that one dish all the regulars come back for again and again? Now, brand it.
For the retailer of manufactured goods, there is already a wealth of goodwill in branding perched upon each shelf and display. Now, use it. Consider it decades worth of crafting, testing, and converting experience that you will not be required to duplicate.
Brand building by way of services is another excellent strategy, especially for complex services. If you have ever opened a checking account at Bank of America®, or gotten a haircut at Supercuts®, or searched the Internet using Google®, then you understand the importance of a branded service.
From the plumber to the electrician, the tax preparer to the accountant, and the photographer to the web designer, they all offer a bevy of services that customers are seeking. And each has a unique opportunity to brand their service(s) to build loyalty and a recurring revenue stream.
Franchise businesses are often developed on the strength of a branded service or combination of service and products. For the truly pioneering style of business, franchising provides an entirely new revenue stream to fund R&D, marketing, and advertising.
When it comes to effective advertising, brand recognition is just as significant as the medium being used. Campaigns may vary over time but the messaging should be consistent with the brand. This will remind customers, by way of endorsement, that they can expect the same, great product or service just as they always have.
For example, when Nike® launches a brand new shoe design, their customers have already crossed the hurdle of trust. Most have worn Nike shoes before, and most will again. So advertisement using their brand (Nike) significantly helps sell the shoe.
Conversely, a new shoe company launching a shoe will need to effectively convince the customer of their wherewithal as a company while also showcasing the features and benefits of the shoe itself.
Considering all the brand building points listed here, it is easier to understand why a clear vision from the outset will cut corners on scaling (or establishing) a business. What are the top three things your company does well? What are the top 3 things your company hopes to do well in the future?
Both answers, once clearly denoted, should then advance to branding discussions to learn what (if any) opportunities have been missed with existing products and services and what might work for future products and services. Although it doesn't hurt, a brand does not require a super catchy name.
At the end of the day, customer loyalty will teeter on how the company executes the quality and core beliefs built into the brand. When done correctly, your customers will reward you with repeat business and positive reviews.