Mention the word “Brand” and your mind will immediately go to Apple, Microsoft, Sony, Netflix, Innocent, Uber, New Balance etc., but where do brands fit in in the SME arena? The fact is that whatever the size of your organisation, you have a brand. The question is how much effort do you make to ensure that the image you communicate is the one you actually want your customers to see. In reality, if you are looking to build a profitable business, your brand should be your number one marketing concern. But before we look and what makes up your brand, let’s start with what it is not! It is not all about your logo, colour scheme & the typeface that you use. Whilst these can be key is communicating your brand, they should not be the starting point. So when asking the question “What is my brand?” where should you start?
It Starts with a Vision
Often, the starting point is an idea of what you and your company are trying to achieve. I am sure that when you set up in business, you had a vision of what you are trying to create. In the corporate world, this is often translated into a “vision, values or mission statement“, but whether formally written down or not, it is this vision that should be the basis of your brand. Interestingly, in researching this post I found a copy of BSA Marketing’s value statement. It was written over 10 years ago. BSA Marketing has changed significantly over the intervening years. Whilst we don’t formally refer to the document on a regular basis, these values are still at the heart of the BSA Brand.
So you know what you stand for as a company - What next?
From here, the key is to ensure that every communication put out either implicitly or explicitly communicates this message. This is where the marketing tools come in to play:
- Social Media
- Offline Marketing
- Blog Writing
Whilst these tools can often be the starting point, from a marketing perspective, they are simply tools to communicate your brand, and tell your story. Whether it is a blog post, a tweet, or a post on LinkedIn Pulse, every communication should be re-enforcing your brand, and telling your story. If it doesn’t, then don’t publish it! This article will tell you more about keeping your marketing joined-up
Even big brands were once small
When it comes to Brands, probably the best modern day example is Apple. I would recommend that anyone interested in Brand Marketing should add Steve Jobs’ biography to their reading list. Ever since Steves Jobs & Wozniak started Apple in a garage, Steve Jobs’ obsession regarding what Apple stood for, and on turning ground breaking ideas into great products (yes the value of offering you have is important too!) has driven Apple to be the most valuable brand ever. Couple this, with a look at the Apple share price over the years, and how it has performed with (Brand focused) and without (no brand focus) Mr Jobs, perfectly demonstrates the importance of a focus core values when it comes to brand. But remember, Apple wasn’t always the Global Behemoth it is today, Their Focus on the brand started when they were a startup SME in a garage. It was the focus on the “brand” back then that laid the foundations for what Apple is today.