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Branding your business from the inside out to boost marketing

By Rachel Gladwin

The importance of branding your business can be summed up in a couple of questions: Can I buy you a Coke? Or perhaps a Pepsi?

If ever anything underlined the power of the brand, it’s the cola war. These remarkably similar beverages both do what they say on the tin. It’s more than what you see and taste, however. You are choosing based on the brand’s ability to make you think and feel a certain way.

To boost the impact of marketing, the branding your business requires is an ethos that suffuses everything you do, from your packaging and website to the voice of customer services if something goes wrong.

At the core of this is having an established set of brand guidelines and a mission that everyone in your business can share and take pride in.

Then, each and every interaction with a customer, client or supplier can be framed to show your brand to its best advantage. That brand is not your logo or what you sell – it’s how you are perceived by the people you want to deal with.

This quote from the marketing guru Seth Godin sums up what every brand should be striving to do today: “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for the customer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”

Dig deep into your brand

The first step on this journey is what you stand for as a brand. We’ve been working on this kind of holistic positioning with clients for many years and it involves asking some very searching questions.

You have to dig deep into what your brand is and what it represents.

What kind of brand are you? Are you a disruptor, like Virgin, here to shake up your sector and make headlines while doing so?

Or a healer, like Dove, aiming to make everyone feel better not just about your products but about themselves?

Changing lives

A creator, perhaps, changing lives with your innovations like Apple does?

Or an educator, like IBM and its quiet mission to teach the world to work better?

Or are you an entertainer, like Innocent with its quirky tricks that laugh people up the supermarket chilled aisle?

Then you have to set out what your brand aspirations are and how those plans are impacted by current perceptions of it. Do those boost marketing strategies or hold them back?

That leads on to determining who you want to appeal to, how you want to appear to them and how you want them to feel about you – excited, comfortable, impressed?

Marketing has evolved over the past 30 years into a refined process, targeting specific segmented audiences with the messages those audiences want to hear.

Lifestyle branding

Thirty years ago people tended to focus on product brands. Lifestyle branding was still a relatively new concept and companies focused on what their products could do for people

Then, at the turn of the millennium, came the emergence of experience branding as a booming economy drove up quality at the same time disposable income grew. Brands needed to begin a two-way conversation with consumers, creating connections.

Now, brands realise they have to build a relationship with customers to boost marketing. When a disappointed buyer can tag you on Twitter or set a post about you to “public” on Facebook, you had better be sure you know how to engage in a calm, professional and consistent manner, that’s true to your brand.

The bonus of building a relationship with a customer is that it helps foster brand loyalty. If someone likes your Facebook page, they are actively inviting your brand to advertise to them.

And social media is a great example of the prevalence of branding. Think of all those selfie-obsessed people snapping hundreds of pictures until they find the one that suits their personal “brand” on Instagram. There’s no sarcasm in their use of the term – we’re becoming a culture where everybody has to sell themselves, in their personal and professional life.

Omnipresence of branding

With this omnipresence of branding – no longer confined to broadcast and press adverts, or high street stores and offices – the importance of consistency only increases.

What you do and say in your advertising has to match up with your social posts, be reflected in your public relations activity, and be followed through at the cash desk in your store or on the telephone if a customer calls.

It has to permeate your dealings with suppliers and every item of content you produce – always coming back to what you offer the customer and what sets you apart from those who might consider themselves to be your rivals.

The need for a unity of purpose means that each and every employee has to be an ambassador for your brand. And that can’t happen without communication and constant reinforcement of the values behind your brand mission.

To find out how we push the boundaries of PR, marketing, digital and web design to get the best for our clients, call us now on 0800 612 9890.