Branding is critical in understanding where your company fits into the grand scheme of things. In the public domain, discussions on branding are almost exclusively focused on multi-national brands, brands we see in our daily lives. Brands such as Apple, General Motors, Google and McDonald’s. In discussing these powerful brands it becomes hard for small and medium size enterprises to recognize the value of branding. To these entrepreneurs, branding is the domain of world companies. Not so.
Small to medium size businesses are the main employers in our marketplace. From my experience a great majority of them do not take any control over the management of their brands nor do they claim any resonating position in their marketing. Re-branding, to a large number of them, is simply putting on a new face, e.g., new logos and marketing materials.
SME’s are a demographic who could stand to benefit immensely once they get a handle on how branding can position them as a leader in their category, invigorate sales staff and control perceptions on the street. Understanding just what their brand stands for allows them a greater opportunity to consistently tell their story, build relationships and drive sales.
With each passing step in the branding process I facilitate with companies, I observe a growing excitement with each participating company. Step-by-step, I see the branding team starting to get it, from discovering their governing brand values to discovering their brand personality. Each reveals truths good and bad that guides them forward to an improved understanding of their brand. As SME’s start gaining control and recognizing how they can differentiate themselves as a leader they begin to realize just how much the exercise will benefit them. It is inspiring to see their management and stakeholders excited in how they are going to bring this newly acquired brand awareness to their customers. They begin to recognize that they can definitely have an impact on how their brand is perceived and what what measures are needed to nurture it.
What’s fascinating is that the unique positioning is typically not something we have to invent, but more pulling from their existing experiences. Buried in their work flow are gems (or seeds) that need feeding. My job is to pull these forward and get the brand to see their unique benefit as a bridge to satisfying the customers needs. This discovery of their new positioning strategy absolutely empowers everyone. It shows that if you take a bold position, you can stand for something greater than simply a clever slogan. Branding in totality changes a business. In most cases it encourages management to take a harder and critical look at themselves and make changes that make your brand authentic in your customers and other stakeholders eyes.
Managing this understanding is where the control of your brand comes into play. Ignoring branding leaves you exposed to an unforgiving marketplace, where customers don’t understand or care what you stand for, and your competition takes great joy in defining your brand for you. You have to step up if you want to become the leader, if you want to own your color and if you want your brand to stand for something that gets prospects to your doorstep allowing sales to welcome them in. Once past your threshold can you then build a mutually profitable relationship that you both can grow on.
Customers want to work with strong brands and strong brands want to satisfy customers through exceptional relationships. Branding delivers on this in a memorable way.