Branding: not just a logo, but how you do business
Frankly, I get a bit annoyed when people think that branding is 'just a logo'. True, it can be; however a brand that really has depth and clarity about its attributes is a reflection of the values and vision of the business owner and the way they do EVERYTHING in their business.
Branding is a set of marketing and communication methods that help to distinguish a company or products from competitors, aiming to create a lasting impression in the minds of customers. As customers get bigger, there can become tension between new hires, new visionaries, extended groups of external stakeholders etc. who create tensions that can start to pull the brand away from its original values and vision. At this point there can start to be tension with customers who start to lose the original connection they had with the brand around its clear values and behaviours.
At its best, a brand encapsulates everything you do, how you do it and why you do it. This permeates every aspect of your business, from how you behave with employees and outsourcers, to how you engage with clients, one on one, en masse or through advertising and promotions. Everything becomes consistent because its is anchored in one clear, true vision and mission from which everything stems.
The key components of brand’s identity, brand communication, trademarks, brand awareness, brand loyalty, and various branding strategies embody these for the outside world to see. Brand equity is the measurable totality of a brand's worth and is validated by assessing the effectiveness of these branding components, and tends to be linked to the consistency of how a
As markets become increasingly dynamic and fluctuating brand equity is the marketing technique which engenders customer satisfaction and loyalty, with the side effect of reduced price sensitivity. For example - there are thousands of web designers out there - so what differentiates me?
I'd like to think that I represent the following to my consumers (I'm about to research this!)
And that my unique combination of values is what makes them want to work with me (on a repeat basis and often doing brand and design work for them which is non web related).
Once you build your brand it is defined as an intangible asset and can be the most valuable asset on a your balance sheet if you come to sell! Small business owners need to ensure that that asset still has value when they leave the business if they wish to exit and make a lot of money when doing so. They have to have embued what made their brand special through their businesess DNA so that a prospective acquirer is buying those values and behaviours which will continue after your departure, not ensnaring them into having to continue working beyond the point they wish to. That's why my vision for Cherrysites anticipates recruiting people who share my values from day one and who ultimately will take the company over! I've started my business with my exit plan in place!
So, at the bigger level, branding literally comprises how you do the things you do and why you do the things you do. This should naturally be congruent with every other business activity because it is a deeper reflection of the core identity of the organisation. If professionalism is part of your brand values you're unlikely to be late for meetings for example. If smartness is part of our brand values you're unlikely to recruit someone who turns up for interview in their jeans. If environmental responsibility is important to you, then you'll probably be unhappy if people waste lots of printing paper or leave all the lights on. So the process of defining your brand starts to inform how you do all sorts of activities in your business.
What would your ideal business structure be?