We all know the tremendous power of a brand name. Google, Canadian Tire and McDonalds spring to mind, but there are a host of others that have successfully carved out a space in the consumer’s psyche. For many small and medium-sized businesses, the task of becoming a household name appears daunting.
If we dissect what branding really is, though, and break it down into manageable parts, then we can lay the foundation upon which to build. In essence, there are two parts to a brand: first, there is an integral relationship between branding and corporate vision. Secondly, branding is a journey, rather than a corporate identity that boxes you in and seals your fate.
To make your brand stand out, you need to differentiate yourself from the competition. If you brand yourself with generalizations, such as quality products and proven experience, rather than with distinct benefits to the consumer, then you’ll see little return on your marketing investment and you risk joining the pool of mediocrity.
A company’s uniqueness or brand is born out of its corporate vision. Business goals and branded environments must articulate a company’s essence – that intrinsic spark that says who you are and what you promise. Think of branding as your company’s DNA, shining brightly in print advertisements, and at trade shows and retail stores for all the world to see. Your company’s DNA is often hidden beneath the clutter of mission statements and corporate literature peppered with industry jargon. You need to dig for that DNA, mine it and extract it. Then, once you have it, wrap it around everything that you do.
Branding is not simply a strong logo or an interactive display or retail exhibit. It’s also how you answer the phone, how you deal with suppliers, and how customer complaints are resolved. The look and feel of your premises, the quality and consistency of staff training all say something about who you are. From the back end to the front end of your operations, a chain reaction of events helps to establish your brand.
E-commerce and virtual storefronts also influence your brand. A company’s website should be representative of its bricks and mortar location. Outdated information and stale content are the equivalent of dusty window dressings. Website neglect not only weakens your online branding efforts – it will have potential customers questioning whether or not you are even open for business.
The little things that appear insignificant on their own send a strong message in their entirety. The challenge is to maintain consistency. Your corporate vision should run like a thread throughout everything that you do and every decision that you make. Not only does this build brand awareness for consumers, it reinforces brand awareness in-house as well.
When you’ve decided to produce a custom trade show exhibit, a point of purchase display, or a showroom featuring items such as detailed millwork and LED lighting, make sure that the company you select understands your brand and your corporate vision.