Almost every business has a name, from the smallest market trader to
the largest multi-national corporation. However, not a lot of those
businesses have what could be classified as a ‘brand’ or a ‘brand name’.
Often times, what is prevalent are products or services that are made
available, but which does not distinctively stand for something in the
minds and hearts of its users.
WHAT IS BRAND?
There are many definitions of a brand, the most effective description however, is that a brand
is a collection of perceptions in the minds of the consumer/customer.
It communicates the value derivable from that brand, business or its
services. Brands are born out of experience and reflects trust that is built over time. A brand is not just a logo or design.
When you see some colours or features, there are certain brands that come to your mind.
- The Nike brand name is known throughout the world, people can
identify the name and logo even if they have never bought any of their
products. However, not only is the company name a brand, but the logo
(The symbol - ‘swoosh’) is also a strong piece of visual identity in its
own right. The majority of people that are aware of the company can
also identify it (or its products) from this symbol alone.
- When you see an Apple with a bite, what immediately comes to mind is
the Apple Company which has consistently over time, entrenched
themselves in the minds of users of its brand and non-users alike. That
is the power of branding.
- The clothing and running shoe company Adidas is well known for using
three stripes on its range of products. This design feature branding
allows people to identify their products, even if the Adidas brand name
and logo is not present.
HOW DO YOU BUILD YOUR BRAND?
Building long lasting brands take time and requires consistency. It
is an on-going process that requires the commitment of business owners
to see to. The following steps highlights the process of building your
- Take Inventory: this is the time to ask yourself some
questions and ascertain where you are currently on the journey to
branding your business.
- Appraise where you are now. Have you made any attempt to build your brand?
- What knowledge do you have of your target market? Their demographics, their habits and behaviour.
- What do you have to offer the customers? What is your proposition
and unique selling point? What experience are you promising your
Craft your identity & positioning: This is what your brand identity will look like and stand for to your customers.
- Your brand name is part of the identity system and you need to
ensure that the name you have chosen resonates with the value and the
service that you are providing.
- Other elements of your identity are the logo, text, font size/type,
colours. You need to ensure that all these elements reflect what you
want to communicate to your end users. Your logo has to be distinct and
creatively crafted in a way that it is memorable. Colours are very
important and note that whatever brand colours you choose at this stage,
will be what you will use over time to depict the brand.
- Develop your brand positioning. You cannot be everything to
everybody. Be focused on the role you want to play in the lives of your
users and the tone and manner in which you will communicate with them.
Once you have concluded on your brand identity, please document this
as a guideline. This will be what will subsequently serve as a guide
when you need to develop designs and content for advertising for your
brand. You will need to stay true to your brand identity; when you
deviate from your brand identity & guideline; then you are eroding
your brand and diluting your equity.
Develop a Brand Plan: You will need to let your target market
know about your brand, this is brand exposure. As such, it is important
to develop a brand plan that will guide your efforts. Ideally you
should develop a one year plan, however you can put a six months plan in
- Your brand plan will indicate what your marketing strategy is and
how you intend to bring your brand to life; that is exposing your brand
to its target audience.
- You need to develop the communication that you want to pass across
to your target market. Remember that the elements of your brand identity
needs to be brought to life here.
- There are several elements of the marketing mix, of which you can determine which of them will work well for your business.
Choose the right tools & Channels: There are several
options you can choose from depending on the level of maturity of your
business, your understanding of your customers, their behaviours and
habits, relevance to your target market, the type of product or service
that you offer amongst other factors. It is very important to ensure
that your choice of tools and the medium chosen is effective and
relevant to ensure you do not waste resources without driving results.
As much as possible, ensure that you exploit generating free and earned
media which will help to minimize your marketing spend.
The following are various touch points that you can use to build your brand:
- Traditional Media: This is mass market in nature, meaning
that it will be exposed to a large number of people. The elements are
TV, Radio, Press – magazines and journals. However, for a new business
(SME), this may not be relevant as it entails huge capital outlay and
may be too mass market for what you want to achieve in the short term.
- Digital Media: With the explosion of the digital platform,
the face of advertising has been permanently changed in recent years.
There are several touchpoints that can be used to generate awareness for
a brand on the digital platform. There is media buying on sites like
google search, yahoo, Sports/fashion/food sites. Depending on the type
of brand you are projecting, you are able to tailor make your
communication on relevant platforms.
Social media is the new way of maintaining communication and dialogue
with friends, family and the outside world. These sites have been used
by several companies to drive brand engagement and followership. Gone
are the days when brands talk down and at customers; now is the age
where there is a two way conversation. You can buy Ad spaces on some of
these sites. This is a cost effective way for an SME to reach its
audience and showcasing your brands. Some of these are LinkedIn,
Twitter, Instagram, Facebook amongst others.
The effectiveness of word of mouth has been attested to over time.
This is more so, when a customer has enjoyed a good experience from you.
They go ahead and tell other people and your brand expands and grows.
A happy customer can refer your brand/business to many more people. Be
aware also that a bad experience may generate a worse word of mouth
which will spread faster.
This is often referred to as earned media. This is when you get
mileage for your brand through write ups in newspapers or magazines.
This may be borne out of the personal experience of the writer and it
gives credibility to your brand. PR can also be a news reporting of your
event. Either way, it projects your brand in a positive way.
Brands run promotion to drive users to patronise them. This can be in
the form of discounts, free offerings or loyalty schemes. You need to
be specific on the objective for running a promotion and set out the
results expected. Once you are clear on the objectives of a promotion,
you can decide on the mechanics and communication platforms that will
drive awareness. Note that promotion is not what you do all the time as
there are other effects on the brand – loss of revenue,
dilution/erosion of your brand equity. You do not want to give a
perception that your brand only thrives on promotions.
- Exhibitions/Networking Events:
There are several networking events that can provide a platform for
your business to engage with industry leaders, opinion leaders and end
users. Making your brand visible here will contribute to the building of
a strong brand.
- Experiential activations:
Similar to networking events, there are platforms where you can get
people to experience your brand – through sampling, usage of the brand
in a way that builds a positive and lasting impression of your brand.
This is your own space. Have you ever thought of developing a website
for your brand? This is a platform that can be sorely yours and which
you can use to tell the world about who you are and what value you can
add. This does not have to be expensive or elaborate. There are many
website templates that can be purchased online for less than N5,000
which you can them customise to fit your brand story. You can also visit
SME toolkit website and access the ‘shop factory’ portal to customize
Other owned spaces that you can use are your company letter head
paper, business cards, brochures etc. Maximize this for your benefit –
afterall you do not need to pay for the use of the space!
- 5. Appraise & Evaluate:
It is important to check for the effectiveness of your campaign and
ascertain if the target market is being impacted, the perception of
customers about the brand etc. as an SME, you will not have the funds to
undertake an elaborate research. However you can gather feedback
through various ways:
- Your website should have a feedback form which will give an
opportunity to communicate customer/client perception of you and your
- Ensure that you get your clients/customers to provide you feedback
after enjoying your brand. If they are satisfied – commit them to give
you a testimonial that you can subsequently use.
- You can track impact on sales too. Are your efforts being rewarded with growth in your customer base and transactions?
- By the time you check all the parameters and ascertained impact
generated, you can decide if you want to stick with your plan or you may
want to tweak it a little.
You need to understand that branding requires consistency. You cannot
expect a quick fix. Companies continue to spend money on building their
brands, even after 100 years and above in existence. It is a marathon
and not a sprint!
This content is provided by Bolajoko Bayo-Ajayi, the principal consultant of Purple Pearl Consulting.