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.