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What is your brand?

Your brand power is a crucial element in making your company competitive and there are many factors that contribute to it.

People prefer to buy products or services from companies that they know and trust.

This is true whether in B2B or B2C markets and applies to the largest and the smallest of organisations. In marketing terms, this is referred to as the ‘power of the brand’ and is a fundamental aspect of gaining competitive advantage.

So what do we mean by the brand? The company name? The logo? Yes – sort of. These are the reference points of identity. There are many facets to a brand but perhaps ‘reputation’ is a better word to explain what is actually meant by the term.

You may ask: why does a company need a brand?

A strong brand is what will set your company apart from competitors and give current and potential customers trust in what it does, thus helping to build the business.

Here are my top three tips on branding and building your brand. 

Tip 1: Ask yourself – do you give your customers what they want, every time? Do you meet their expectations? If you can’t answer these questions, ask your customers.

The ‘brand’ is what the business does, how it performs, how it is perceived or understood by the outside world – its customers.

The last point is the most important. A company might think it has a brand that stands for quality or service, but if the customers don’t think that, or experience what they understand is quality, there is a disconnect – a problem.

Tip 2: Regularly talk to your customers to gain an understanding of what they want or need from your business and how you meet those needs and how your competitors match up.

A brand is one thing, but having a strong brand is what a business actually needs. Strong brands are those that really match the customers’ needs, are well known and universally understood. And it’s not just about having a great-looking logo.

By strong brand I mean a strong reputation and an understanding of what your business does. It is about awareness, recognition and delivery.

It doesn’t have to be the highest quality product or service – value or budget offerings can have strong brands. Poundland, for example, is a very strong brand. The fact that it’s about cheap products is not a bad thing because that is what its target market want and need.

So the most important thing about a strong brand is that it must be relevant to its target customers. Well-known brands are only strong if they represent what the customers want and are prepared to pay.

Tip 3: If you don’t have a document that defines what your business does and the values by which it operates, create one – and make sure that all of the company employees understand it, buy into it and deliver it – every day.

The brand is something that everyone within the business needs to understand, believe in and deliver. The belief and delivery are hinged on brand values.

Typical brand values are: innovation, quality and excellent customer service. Brand values need to be built into the fabric of the business and delivered upon each and every day – after all, that is what the business is promising the customers.

In short: branding is a fundamental of business, whether you are a one-man band plumber, a multi-site contractor or an international product manufacturer. The basic principles are exactly the same.

Ian Exall is chairman of CIMCIG, the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Construction Industry Group, and marketing manager at shower manufacturer Aqualisa

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