Brand building is not an easy task because it involves co ordination and performance on so many levels. The customer only calls a normal product a brand when the company is advertising regularly, it has a fantastic product and the performance over time has been superb. On top of it, if the advertising and marketing communications are able to make a connect with the customer, then branding enters a whole new level with people buying the product because of the brand.
That’s the sweet spot for any business, isn’t it? If you were to launch a new product, over a period of time, you would also like that product to be known as a brand. So how do you implement brand building for your product or organization? Here are some powerful brand building tips for you.
1) Start building a brand only when you are ready – That’s the number 1 brand building tip I have for you. Each company has a maturing period in which it might have the revenue and the product to build a brand. If you launch brand building activities but do not have the revenue or the supply to support these activities, then your brand can fail. (Example – Flipkart Big billion day)
For example, if a festival is just around the corner, and you have the revenue and product in place, then you can immediately go for promotions so that customers get more aware about your product and begin to recognize it. Consequently, if you advertise and you don’t have the revenue for the ads to run its full course, or if the ads run and you don’t have the products ready, then there is no use of the efforts spent on Brand building.
2) Be passionate about brand building – You cannot build a brand halfway. If you are building a brand because “others are doing it” then you are wrong in your branding approach. You need to understand the core strength of your company and you have to be committed to branding. This means no excuses and complete focus on brand building activities. The best brand building tip I can give you is that the branding should come from your heart.
3) Believe in your own brand – I might be reiterating the same point, but if the branding efforts are coming from your heart, and if you don’t believe in your own brand, then you are fighting a losing battle. If you don’t think your brand can make it, then there are some differentiating factors, or some other problems with the company which are not resolved. Due to these problems, you don’t have belief in your brand. In such a case, it is better to pay attention to the first point. Start building a brand only when you are ready.
BRANDING MAKES A LOT OF DIFFERENCE
4) Build around your strengths – Each product or brand has a strength which it roots for. Goodyear has its durability, Duracell has its long lasting battery, Philips has its home appliances, and Samsung has its smart phones. These strong product lines, when involved in brand building, can give a boost to all the different products in your product portfolio.
The Brand building tip here is that you should play around your strength and make it the face of your brand. When the customer, through his usage, confirms that the product is strong, he will start trusting all the other products of the same brand, even though they have not been promoted to him. However, if the first experience is bad, the customer is unlikely to try anything else from the same brand house.
5) Improve your weaknesses to build a stronger brand – If a customer gets attached to your brand when you advertise your strengths, then it is logical, that the more strength you have, the more customers you will get. So in essence, the weaker holes that you plug, the stronger your brand will be. If in your product portfolio, you have products which have technical issues, then you need to concentrate on improving those issues. Many a brands have lost their reputation because they had a cash cow in their portfolio, whereas all the rest were dogs. So you need to improve your strength to have a stronger brand.
6) Add value to your products and services – You need to ask yourself (and also your employees and customers), what can you do to improve the value of the brand. How is the customer interpreting your brand? Is he getting complete value, or for minimal additional cost, can you add more value. Things like a small product enhancement, miniscule product offers, changes in customer service process can add a lot to build up customer satisfaction. Adding such value to your service is the bases of having a strong brand. Look at any bank, and you will notice that they keep looking internally at their processes so that they can plan a better service delivery to end customers.
7) Respond and be reachable – Customers nowadays are very vocal in their dissatisfaction. Don’t be surprised if criticism of your brand comes online through e commerce portals or through the various social networks. It is important that you track your brand mentions so that you can respond to your customers. At the same time, hire a social media agency so that you can be reachable to your customers online through Twitter, facebook or Email. Being reachable is just one part. The other part is responding to your customers and taking feedback so that you know that your customers are happy with you. A single dissatisfied post for a start up brand can affect at least 10-15 customers of your brand. A new movie which has come in the market, might lose 100 viewers through a single facebook post. So you need to be reachable and respond to your customers to build a strong brand.
8) Imbibe the right message in your marketing communications – Just look at some ads of banks, insurance companies or even telecom networks. You will find that, because these are service sectors, the only value they can ad to their brand is through the proper marketing communications. And by proper marcomm, I mean adding value to the statement you are making to your end customers who are watching your advertisement. Your brand values should be reflected in these ads. The best example of such ads is also Apple. Apple is known to focus on innovation and it knows that it has the geek crowd to support it. Hence Apple ads will always communicate innovation. And this creates an emotional connect with their customers. Thus, imbibing the right message in your marketing communications goes a long way in creating brand equity.
9) Stand up during crisis – Many of the brands recently have started social advertisement. Even Levi’s got into the water saving jeans mode. Similarly, brands are standing up during times of natural calamities to help the people. Obviously, only brand building is not behind this rational. Many CEO’s are themselves very good human beings. When terrorism took place in India in the Taj hotels, the then CEO “Mr Ratan tata” himself took a lot of measures to ensure that his employees were cared for, during and after the crisis. Such efforts are remembered by the public for a long time. So have the right safety measures in place so that your internal customers are cared for.
10) Have a strong Online presence – In today’s digital age, you cannot build a brand without having a strong online presence. Many of the top brands across the world are present on all social networks. They have fantastic websites which give users maximum information of their products. In consumer durables and electronics, these websites are also the 24 X 7 salesmen for the company. Thus, today’s digital customer demands that the company have a strong online presence. If he feels the company absent online, he will come to know that there are not many people talking about it, and hence it is not a trustworthy company – YET. So if you are building a brand, you need to build a strong online presence as well.
11) Build relationships – What do you expect in a relationship? That your partner calls you, take cares of you and ensures you are comfortable. The same has to be done when the brand is building relations with the customer. The brand can use CRM, optimize its customer service, improve its feedback mechanism and overall, it has to make the customer comfortable. Look at any top fortune 500 brands and you will find that each brand has a mammoth customer service team. In fact, when you are a top brand, your customer service team brings in more bottom line then the sales team. This is because your investment for repeat customers is very less whereas your investment for customer acquisition is high. A brand which is strong brings a lot of repeat business automatically for the company.
12) Use smart branding techniques – A brand is intangible in nature. It is made tangible with a combination of various brand elements which the marketing manager has to implement on the packaging, the advertisement and overall, everywhere where the brand can make a difference. Branding elements usually involve the brand colors, brand logos, communication medium, celebrity endorsement and other such elements. By using these branding techniques, and finding out the best way to integrate branding in all your processes, you can have a fantastic advantage over competitors.
13) Have patience – Brand building is not like sales. There is no short term target. In fact, brand building is a strategic process and hence it might take decades to give the result which the company desires. Many consumer durable brands and FMCG brands spend a lot of money on their brand building efforts. However, these efforts many fail over and over again. It is only through persistence, and trying various ideas that a brand becomes famous. Thus, a brand manager needs to be patient to handle all the ups and downs of the roller coaster ride that is brand building. Having a plan will help you in achieving the right brand connect with your customers, thereby building a strong brand for your company.
Having high brand equity is the best competitive advantage to have, something which is hard to replace. Hence in the laptop market, you will hardly find anyone other than Microsoft or Apple as an operating system. In mobile markets too, you will mainly find Android and Apple. Notice how Apple is a leader in both the categories. This is because of the value that the brand provides to the end customers.
In fact, Apple brand loyalty is such that customers will buy whichever products the company launches. Now it becomes the responsibility of the brand to launch products which actually provide a lot of value to its customers. In essence, any start up company needs to take out specific time for its branding efforts from the start. If the brand is built, then getting the bottom line that you desire will become easier.