We see it in our environment every day – small and medium sized businesses, that do not take care of their brand. Brand? What brand? You might be thinking. Surely they are ‘only’ running a local business, selling one or two different products or services, catering for the local community and investing all their time in developing the product or service, making sure their cashflow is up to scratch, keeping the bank happy. But small medium sized business deserves strong branding.
In order to see how important branding is, even for the smallest business, we have to understand what the term ‘branding’ means.
People mainly think that branding means ‘having a logo, letterhead and a sign above the shop’. But a brand is much more than its visual elements. Branding should start with a clear idea on what a business or organisation stands for and how it will serve its customers and community delivering relevant benefits. How is your business better than the competitor, how can you give your customers better value. Once this understanding has been achieved, products and services can be organised to do so. And customers will gain an understanding of exactly how your product or service will benefit them. A strong brand will create trust, resulting in sales.
The first step would be to evaluate your brand, but how?
A good start is to create a brand board. Gather everything together about your business. With everything, I mean all the bits and pieces that have anything to do with your business. Get a picture of your logo, your business card, pictures of all your products, pictures of services you provide, a picture of your shop or premises, your staff, write down words that represent your business, get feedback from customers, images of people using your products or services. Packaging, newsletters, ads, signage, leaflets, flyers, pens with your logo on… you get it, I mean everything. Once you have gathered all of those things, you can start putting a board together. And it will come to you like a flash… Does it all fit together and create a clear idea about what your business is about? Or does it create questions? ‘Is my business about providing my customers with local high quality products, serving the community or is my business about providing national or even international customers with quick and affordable solutions’? Whatever your business is about, your brand board should represent those ideas and benefits.
‘What if it doesn’t?’ I hear you ask?
Don’t worry, go back to those questions that were created, whilst putting your brand board together. What is your business about? How do your customers feel about your products and services? What are the benefits? You might have to do some more research on your competitors or you might need to ask your staff and customers about their opinions. But you will come back from this with some valid answers, which will give you a clearer insight into how to make your brand stronger.
Below some examples of brand boards I found. These are strong global brands, but they illustrate how a brand board works. Yours will probably not be as polished and professional looking as these, but that does not matter. Your brand board is for you alone to see, you might want to share it with staff, but it is mainly there for you to understand how to move your brand forward.
Converse – cool, hip, authentic, young, rebel
Hello Kitty – fun, quirky, girly, different
VW Beetle – modern, functional, fun, unusual
If you have more questions about branding or need some advice and guidance, contact Eva on email@example.com