How’s your branding?

No, I’m not asking if you have a triangle with a wavy line through it imprinted on your backside, denoting you are one of the Lazy Three. I’m talking about the brand your company projects every day, with every impression of your logo and your customer packaging, your advertising, your texting and emailing. If the impression is not consistent across all platforms, you’re spinning your wheels. Branding goes far beyond having a snappy logo design. It is a reflection of everything your company embodies.

There’s an insurance company in the U.S. that has 3-4 different ad campaigns going at any one time. Each is very different from the others, and the goal is to reach everybody with one or another. Actually, for consumers, it’s very confusing. Is this the same company with the gekko and the 15% savings? Or is it the one that insures motorcycles and boats? The one with the funny Department of Motor Vehicles clerk? Or…? While wanting to reach everyone, one way or another, is a nice goal, it’s unrealistic and can actually lead to less recognition of the company.

What is your brand?

There are two sides to the impression your company makes. One is the image you want to convey. The other is how your customers actually perceive you. Perhaps you think you are modern and efficient. But your call office image, your signage, even your packaging and quality of your work spell “old school” or even “mediocre” to your customers. How can you improve your brand image?

1. Get independent insight. Don’t ask your sister-in-law what she thinks of your company. Ask total strangers (who don’t know you own it/work there) what the name means to them. Show them the logo and get their impression. Ask if they’ve and experience with the company. To make it less obvious you are asking about your own company, throw in logos and images of competitors, too.

One way to do this is to hold a formal focus group, but that’s expensive. You can get a lot of input just by asking people, putting out an appeal through Facebook or Twitter for comment, etc.

2. Ask your employees. Yes, they have an opinion about the company they work for. Make this a safe exercise for them. If replies to a survey are anonymous, then they will feel they can be honest. Ask what they think of the way the company is viewed in the community, and how they would like it to be viewed.

3. Check the comparables. On the home-improvement shows on TV when the work is done and the house is ready to sell, the owners “check the comps.” In other words, they look at all the houses in their area that have the same amenities (or close to it) to determine the price they should ask for the house.

In your case, your competitors are vital to you knowing where you stand. Look closely at their materials, logos, ads, online presence. If you have to, send a mystery shopper into their store and then examine their quality, packaging and service after the order is picked up. If you see them doing something that you know will “wow” customers, consider doing something similar.

Above all, remain open-minded and not defensive in this process. Burying your head in the sand is a fine way to get run over, without realizing a threat is even coming your way.

Educate yourself

There are myriad resources online that you can tap into to increase your understanding of the importance of branding, and how to improve a brand’s recognition and acceptance. Here are some articles to look over with respect to branding. Each one will give you nuggets to get your mind going in the direction of better branding and

What is Marketing and How Can It Help Your Business?

Are you confused by the various terms and strategies that are thrown about to describe ways in which businesses can get more attention for their services and/or products? If so, perhaps this blog post will help clear up some of those misconceptions and answer the question, what is marketing and how can it help my business?

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7 Pillars of Business Success, Part 2 – Marketing Strategy

Too often marketing is viewed as a supporting role for sales. On the contrary, marketing is the most all-encompassing function of any business. …A great marketer will concern herself with every component of the business, because every component of the business will impact the customer’s perception of the brand.

Marketing Strategies to Boost Your Brand’s Authority Effectively and Ethically

In addition to bringing success to your brand, ethical marketing strategies are the right thing to do.

5 Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Brand Strength and Equity

Branding is not simply about using the same logos and fonts and colors. Building your brand requires in-depth processes that may involve website design, maintaining a social media presence, beefing up customer support, making changes in your company culture, and even rethinking your company’s philosophy.

Next week we’ll focus on online marketing, email marketing, text message marketing and other avenues of reaching your customers.

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