Every successful business trades on its reputation, so building a trusted brand is essential whatever your size or sector, says Carol Magill, Network Manager, Chartered Institute of Marketing
The process is always going to cost time, effort and money. But you don’t need a bottomless budget to do the basics well. Here is a simple reminder of the fundamentals, with entrepreneurs and smaller businesses particularly in mind:
Identify your values
Your brand is a combination of symbols, such as logos and colour schemes, and the core values that make up your company’s ‘personality’, like reliability or creativity. These values are lived through every aspect of your business activity, from the way a phone is answered to the way a client or customer meeting is followed up.
Your values need to be based on the strengths and goals of your business. They must resonate with the emotions and personal values of your target audience.
Being clear about what you stand for, from the moment you launch the new brand, will help to differentiate you from competitors and deliver a consistent service. Taking the time to define and articulate these values clearly will reap rewards in the long term.
Commission a logo
If you do the job right, your logo can be the centrepiece of your branding for years. Whether you commission a graphic or a specially designed font for the company name, it needs to fit with your brand values.
Don’t skimp on the initial design of the logo, but your signage, stationery and advertising featuring the company logo can be expensive. Consider how essential these are for you at the beginning. It may be that they can wait.
Make sure employees are on board
In a small business, committed employees (however few you have) make all the difference. It’s important to involve them in the process since your new brand can affect morale, and seeing that their interactions with customers can either reinforce or contradict your brand values.
Canvassing employee views, or giving them a chance to contribute, will help them to feel invested in the new brand.
Blogs, webinars and social media outreach cost less money than ads, but can take up a lot of time. So decide which route is more valuable to you. It takes a lot of effort to build and maintain an audience, but it can be very beneficial in helping you position your business as an expert in its field.
Find your niche
Well-heeled competitors can monopolise many channels. So find a content niche that isn’t being exploited and set about establishing your company as the industry expert using targeted content.
Also, think about focusing on channels where competitors have little presence.
Pitch to journalists
Build up relationships with journalists and bloggers directly; a good review from a trusted source is worth the hard work. Try to provide material they can use to create an eye-catching article, such as original research or a human interest story as this is where the messages about your brand values are best vocalised.
Keep it consistent
Make sure everything you put into the public domain, and every interaction you and your team have with your clients or customers, is in tune with your brand values. The customer should always have the same positive experience they have come to expect. This is about customer and sales service as much as your marketing activities.
Upcoming Training Opportunities from CIM Ireland
Video Content: An interactive workshop
26 September 2017 :10am-4pm; QUB, Belfast.
Discount for CIM members, open to non-members : charges apply. Book here http://regions.cim.co.uk/Ireland/home
Cisco recently announced that online video content will account for 69% of all online traffic and many marketers are looking to be ahead of the curve and exploit this opportunity. This small interactive full-day workshop will support you in moving forward and making video a central part of your marketing and communications strategy. Delivered by Peter Craven from Blue Sky Media.
Digital Transformation: Adapt or Die
16 November : 9:30-12:30 : BT Tower, Belfast.
Free to CIM members: Charge for non-members. Book here http://regions.cim.co.uk/Ireland/home
Faced with today’s ‘plugged-in’ society, Government needs to adapt its communications and services or it will become obsolete. This event will present two case studies which will form the focus for the event. These will demonstrate how the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) is responding and adapting to the enormous impact that digital technology has been having on its customers. BT, Kainos, the Department of Finance and the Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs will present how they have worked together and with other stakeholders to create two independent solutions. These have been designed to strengthen customer engagement, influence behaviour change and improve customer service.