Your company brand is one of the most vital features of your business and can literally make or break your company. Take a look at Kraft’s recent acquisition of Cadbury for $9.5 billion dollars. This hefty price tag had nothing to do with the market value of the factories, inventory or secret recipes. It had to do with the branding that came with the Cadbury name. This acquisition and many like it go to prove just how valuable a business brand is to a company.
Unfortunately, branding requires more than creating a tagline for your company. It takes time and a commitment to establish the type of branding that resonates with your customers. Here are some actionable steps you can take now to start building a brand for you company that will work to attract and maintain customers.
1. Determine Your Brand. The first step to creating a brand is determining exactly what your company brand is. While you may be tempted to sit down in the boardroom and throw some ideas around, your brand has more to do with how your customers already perceive your company than it does what you want your brand to be. Try to determine what areas of your business your customer like and appreciate and build upon that.
2. Know Your Customers. It would be impossible to build a brand for your company without first understanding who you customers are and what they need. Stay directly connected to your customers, so you can better determine what they want. For example, are they looking for customized products, efficient customer service or fast delivery. Whatever seems to be driving customers to your business, is where you want to focus your branding.
3. Understand Your Industry. In addition to knowing your customers, you must also have an in-depth knowledge of your specific industry. Check out your competition’s website or social media sites, and see what their customers are complaining about. Is there a gap in services that your business can fill and fill well. Be careful not to just jump into some branding idea based on this gap in services. Your business must be able to follow through and deliver the brand you promise.
4. Value of Social Media. Social media sites provide companies a unique opportunity to reach out to their customers in real-time. You can instantly determine what your customers concerns are and what areas they feel your business is excelling at. This can be a great way to determine if your branding is reaching the customers. Be sure to reach out to them, ask their opinions and interact with them on a regular basis. Keep in mind that your customers on social media sites are looking for you to be authentic, relevant and consistent with your communication. They will be quickly turned off if you appear to “salesy” or only use the site for self-promotion.
5. Be Clear on Your Brand. You must be able to prove that your company is committed to your brand. This is how you build and maintain trust between yourself and your customers. For example, if you brand yourself as a company that provides fast delivery services, you better be able to follow through on that commitment. Put a plan in action and then have a backup plan to make sure packages go out in a timely manner. Customers must find your business believable a trustworthy.
6. Be Consistent. Consistency is also a very important part of branding. Your specific brand must encompass your entire business and adopted by every staff member. It is crucial that you work as a team towards building a brand. If there is a breakdown in just one area, it can destroy the brand name you have been building.
Brand building that creates a trust between you and your customers is not going to happen overnight. It will take time and a strong commitment from your entire staff. However, once establish, it can help you create a loyal customer-base that will stick with your business for years to come. It is important, however, that you take the time to reevaluate you branding strategy on a consistent basis to ensure it is still resonating with the customers, and be prepared to make changes if necessary.
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