Last updated on July 18th, 2016
Small companies have to tackle strong competition from established and newly launched businesses. To grab a market share, small businesses chalk out branding strategies. But many of them fail to impress the customers due to the mistakes made in creating an identity for their products or services.
Such companies are seen ignoring some basic rules of branding and end up paying a high price by losing customers to the competitors.
As a small business, you may not be as financially strong as your competitors, but making a high level investment is always not an essential condition for creating a reliable branding image for your company. Instead, just ensure that you pay attention to basics of branding rules.
To make sure that you are on the right track in your branding exercise, you should ask the following questions and get the right answers.
1. Have You Defined Branding Characteristics?
Some companies do not pay adequate attention in making a brand look consistent and having a direction. If you ask this question and the answer is a no, then you should first lay out guidelines for incorporating the above elements in your brand strategy. For example, you may ask that “have I created a logo to represent my business in the market and aims targeted audience? Have I selected the brand colors that should go into designing my logos, brochures, business cards, envelope design etc?”
Similarly, think of some taglines that announce your motive behind creating the brand since the tagline will be visible to customers everywhere on your products, services and on various promotional tools. Fonts and typography are another brand characteristic that define your brand and you must get them sorted out before you launch your branding campaign. In fact, there is an endless list of such characteristics and for you to achieve branding success, your brand guideline documents must have most of them.
2. Have You Deviated From Your Brand Guidelines?
This is an important question to be asked and answered. Majority of the businesses become careless in following their own brand guidelines strictly. For instance, when they want to launch a new advertisement campaign for a product, the guidelines are not applied in a strict manner since in most cases the logo designers are allowed to take liberty with the guidelines set for the brand colors. As a result, a new color is added to the logo which deviates from the brand guidelines. While there seems to be nothing wrong in incorporating a new color, the problem is that a new brand image for your customers is created. This means that the customers will perceive your brand differently and the new brand image may not be suitable for your business.
3. Do You Keep A Vigil on Usage of Your Brand?
Do not think that your brand building campaign finishes with preparing brand guidelines. There is another major step of monitoring the usage of the branded elements. You must keep a tight vigil on how and where others are putting your brand elements to use on your behalf. If you become careless in guarding the usage of the elements, your competitors may create a similar logo or design a website that is similar to yours. It may also be that your partner has published your logo with different colors. All such wrong usage may create an adverse image of your company, business and brand.
If necessary, you should be prepared to take legal action against the party that infringes your brand elements.
4. Do You Really Want to Opt for Rebranding?
After you planned extensively for creating your brand image of business, it may surprise many when you think in terms of rebranding. Many companies go for rebranding of their business successfully and so there is nothing wrong with it. But do not rebrand just for the sake of novelty or because you are bored with the old image of your products or services. Do not forget that your customers have already made a close relationship with your brand by seeing those colors, fonts, logos, websites, brochures, business cards, taglines etc for many years. A sudden change in your brand image can shock them and it can be detrimental to your business.
Therefore, make the changes in your brand image only when it is absolutely necessary to do so. Make sure that the benefits of the rebranding outweigh the risks. Most importantly, educate your customers by an ad campaign on the changes.
In the end we can say that branding is a responsible exercise for your business as your approach in selection of branding elements, building a relationship with customers, protection of your brand elements and rebranding can make or break your business. Take help of an expert if necessary so that you avoid making the mistakes while launching your brand promotion campaign.
5. What Should be Your Customers’ Relationship With Your Brand?
Your customers are central to your branding exercise. But what exactly should the relationship between your customers and brand be based on? An answer to this question is that the customers should see your brand as someone who drives confidence and allows you to have trust and faith in them. No business can survive if its potential buyers do not trust the products or services offered by a company for reasons such as lack of quality.
So, you should highlight the major qualities that you want the customers to notice in your brand. For example, if you sell supplements to boost muscle power, then your brand stands for strength. If your company deals in women’s apparels, then your brand strategy should be to highlight softness and elegance. Similarly, a company selling fast food to young audience can rely on making a brand promotion strategy around the attributes like energy.