The most successful brands build on a company's strengths, so start by evaluating what you are good at and what you believe in as a business. The other part of the jigsaw is to look at what customers want and how you can deliver on that. If you can match your brand vision and values to what existing and potential customers want, then you should be on the right track. This guide helps you with:
1) A brand plan
Start by working out the message you want to deliver to your customers. This is the big idea that lies at the heart of your business and it's what makes you different (brand identity). Then move on to pin down the values that make your business different (brand promise, such as high quality, friendliness...) and then think about how you want to deliver that vision (brand experience).
2) How to identify your brand
Your brand must reflect what your customers and employees think about your business to have any credibility. Find out what potential and existing customers, suppliers and employees like and dislike about your business and how they feel about it. Start to define your brand identity from this, and include employees and customers in discussions as you develop your vision.
3) How to use your brand
Communicate your brand's vision and values to your customers, suppliers and staff. Build your message into everything your customers see and hear about your business. This can be done through design, advertising, events, partnerships and training.
It's good financial management to set aside a branding budget. This should cover the following the areas: your time and the cost of your staff's time, the cost of reworking your company's stationery, signage and packaging, the design and printing of sales-support material, premises, advertising and PR. If you can't do the job in house you may also want to factor in the cost of using a consultancy firm to help with branding.
5) Managing the brand
Be prepared to regularly monitor your customer's response to the brand and constantly review how your brand values are communicated to them. Keep staff involved by discussing brand values and vision regularly and making sure they understand the brand and are committed to delivering the brand experience. If you introduce new products or services, make sure they're consistent with your existing brand values. Aim to exceed your brand promises to your customers. If you fail to deliver just once on a brand promise it will damage your brand.
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