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Want to Build Sales? Build a Brand.

Ask Disney, ask Nike, ask Coca-Cola, ask Mercedes-Benz. They’ll all confirm that one of the most effective sales strategies your business can put to work is the crafting of a powerful corporate brand. Put your company branding together well and it can:

  • Make your business even more distinctive in the marketplace
  • Increase sales and profits
  • Attract top quality opportunities amid times of prosperity
  • Help your business stay resilient and emerge stronger from times of austerity

Professional corporate branding connects customers and prospects to your company through emotions, rational presentation of facts, and provision of services and products that please the customers. A robust, sure-footed brand also finds ways to say to clients, “Here is a successful, problem-solving way forward: this is the brand that helps clients resolve their issues and equips them with what they need.”

Effective branding isn’t a Mickey Mouse affair (or maybe it is)

Consider Disney. The Disney brand didn’t just appear fully formed, like Mary Poppins arriving on the east wind: here is a brand created over many years – from inauspicious beginnings – to consistently extol values that complement wholesome family fun, service excellence and clean environments.

Nothing is left to chance at Disney. It is Disney company policy to hire only people who meet its high standards; full training is undergone before anyone is allowed to mingle with ‘guests’ to deliver exemplary customer experiences.  The brand culture and vision suffuses all that they do, all the time. There was even a heated debate over whether male employees, or rather ‘cast members’, at EuroDisney Paris should be allowed facial hair. It was a close shave, but French defence of personal liberty won the day (although beards must be no longer than a quarter of an inch). That’s how seriously Disney take branding.

Thankfully for branding directors like me, you don’t need to be a large company to benefit from branding expertise. Any medium-size enterprise, small business or even individual who uses branding properly will experience a positive difference when it comes to results.

Experience the difference 

When building client loyalty one of the cornerstones is to provide a rewarding experience, from the first phone call, first use of the website or first meeting onwards. The more positive the introductory experience, the easier it is to instil a preference for buying your products. This will then build the value of your brand.

The next step is to leverage the results to go deeper into the market and extend your market share. With the goodwill and favourable reviews you generate with those first, positive branding experiences, you should be able to generate more forward (and upward) momentum.

Most successful companies have a brand that is recognised and respected (at the very least within its own sector), has a positive image and possesses a worth that is perceived to be higher than the other businesses in its market.  For example, when it comes to ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s provides an enviable customer experience and has scooped a very strong position for itself in the ice cream market. They can charge more than rivals because the perception is they are the best in what they do.

Is Ben & Jerry ice cream the best? Or is the finest ice cream among the exotic gelatos highlighted in Conde Nast’s upmarket travel magazine Traveller*? Or is it the family-recipe ice cream from your local café? Does anyone really know? From my twenty-plus years as a brand director/consultant in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester, I can safely say there’s a lot of subjectivity involved … and that’s why building your own brand is so important: when faced with a multiple choice, customers regularly and willingly pay extra for the brand they’re familiar with, or at least have heard of.

One easy way to build your brand status, personality and equity is to communicate the passion of the business on marketing materials such as your web site, logo, packaging and business cards. Another tried and trusted technique is to develop a personal story as to the roots of how your business started, and that can work well for you too: you start connecting with emotional touchpoints as well as rational ones.

Check the consistency

It’s important to develop brand consistency as it helps to engage clients, build trust and ultimately increases awareness, sales and profits. Every time a customer or potential customer sees your brand, they should see the same colours, typography and logo. For example, did you ever see a bar of Cadbury’s chocolate that’s not in that distinctive purple? It’s so much part of the Cadbury brand DNA they tried to trademark it: as Intellectual Property professionals Barker Brettel point out, “Obtaining a registration for a colour can give a huge competitive advantage, as shown by Cadbury fighting for so long (ten years) to protect the colour purple**.”

When your brand is consistently represented, you remind customers of every time they’ve seen it before and you build that priceless feeling of trust. Don’t be content with building a good business: build a good brand and great business will follow.

*Source: cntraveller.com/recommended/food/best-ice-cream-world

**Source: barkerbrettell.co.uk/cadburys-purple-battle

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“To see ourselves as others see us.” – Robert Burns.

You can maximise the strengths of your business, uncover unsuspected opportunities, eliminate weaknesses, increase efficiency and generate more business – all from taking an objective view of your company. Expertly derived information can be immensely valuable.

Scotland’s national poet was a highly observant man, sensitive to all that was going on around him. He understood that how you view yourself is seldom how others see you and judge you.

Now, be honest: wouldn’t you love to really, really know what your customers and potential customers think of your company, and how they see your services and products?

Such insights are notoriously difficult to gain, but they are definitely worth having:

  • Constructive self-criticism in business can be a tricky skill to master and maintain. An outsider’s view often focuses concentration and allows faster progress.
  • 360o awareness of the reality of the situation is always valuable, but often it requires an outside opinion to clearly evaluate all the issues.
  • New ways forward can be highly rewarding. How do you find them, quickly and accurately? What will be the catalyst for action? Could a fresh mind accelerate the drive forward?

Not many companies fully comprehend where they stand in the market and in people’s minds. Those companies include some of the biggest multi-nationals ever built – you know the usual suspects, the Coca-Colas, Apples and Googles of this world. (Ask yourself why you know who they are and what they look like, and why millions of people think well of them.)

Those businesses succeeded and go on succeeding because they not only provide exceptional products, but also because they manage their brands brilliantly in pursuit of the right kind of awareness, inside the company as well as out-facing.

What helps distinguish successful businesses is their willingness to go the extra mile or more to discover what customers, suppliers, investors and employees want; then they use the findings to sustain their position and improve it.

Successful businesses regularly invest in information-finding techniques such as brand audits.

The purpose of a brand audit is to ascertain how your business and brand are performing. It delivers value and benefits by enabling you to:

    • Assess how well the brand is delivering against the company’s objectives
    • Diagnose trouble spots
    • Discover the strengths and weaknesses of your business
    • Determine the positioning of your business and to plan corrective strategies
    • Get up to speed with the perceptions (positive or negative) about your business
    • Provide direction for your business and brand into the future

Successful businesses believe in the power of knowledge. Shouldn’t you? You don’t need to be a vast corporation to make your brand work harder for you: the principles apply on almost any scale, as a professional brand consultant can prove.

Think what you could do with reliable, objective knowledge on your business and your brand. Imagine you had the power to see yourself as others see you – oh, if Rabbie Burns could only return as a Brand Director!

If you’d like to make your brand work harder for you, then please give us a call or drop us an email. Tel: 0844 880 4281, email: hello@darwinbrandconsultants.com

Vincent Bissette is Managing Director of Darwin Brand Consultants, a Glasgow-based brand and marketing agency with clients in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester.

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