Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Build your brand

Just lately I’ve been thinking a lot about brands. You might think that brands are only important to large companies, the Coca Cola and Pepsi’s of the world. I think brands are important to all of us.

A brand is the idea in someone’s head about what the product or service will deliver. That idea will have been formed by perhaps trying the product or service, seeing it advertised, or by passing by the store twice a day. Talking to others about their experiences will also change our views about what a company sells. In today’s socially connected world, views expressed on Twitter, on blogs or online forums also contribute to views formed about a product or service.
The more consistent all those messages are, the stronger the brand.

So if every time you stay with a certain hotel chain their service is always impeccable, the room clean and attractive, the staff friendly and their advertising consistent with their service, your estimation of them will go up. If you hear colleagues talk of their good experiences, it will strengthen your view that you might want to stay with that hotel chain again. The larger the number of consistently good experiences you have, the more likely you are to forgive the occasional mistake, or to ignore a bad review.

A poor brand, on the other hand will have mixed feedback. Trains that run late, product lines that fail, poor feedback from customers, etc.

So whether you are Coca Cola or Joe’s Printing Works, consistency in delivery and promotion is important in building up a good image in your customers’ minds. Strong brands, large or small, come with valuable benefits according to Drayton Bird:

  • You can sell products or services at a higher margin
  • You get more repeat purchases
  • Higher sales volumes means economies of scale which increase competitiveness
  • People are more likely to forgive mistakes.
That’s a pretty strong list. And when we think of such mighty brands as Hilton Hotels, Heinz, Coca Cola, Perrier, IBM and Microsoft, it rings true. It is also a list that would be of value to any business. Which is why it's worth thinking about building your brand - whoever you are.

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