The Power of Branding
If there’s one thing you simple cannot underestimate when you’re running a business it’s the power of branding. Getting it right is a delicate operation: you need to project an idealised image of your business, something truly attractive for your customers, but also avoid making promises you can’t keep. Disappoint customers consistently and you soon won’t have many customers left.
Building a brand that has real power needs your conscious thought and input: it’s not something you can rely on happening by accident. What you need to do is start with research: basing your decisions on data gives you a bedrock of facts to build on – while following your instincts can be exhilarating, especially when they pay off, there’s guarantee of success there. Working with hard data, trialling approaches and refining your approach with the outcome of that test is less exciting, but more likely to lead to a successful outcome, and the steady building of the power of your brand.
What is a Brand?
A ‘brand’ is often used interchangeably with the word ‘company’, but it’s much more important than that. Your brand is how your customers understand your business – its personality, or image. You need a brand that tells the customers that you want to shop with you just why your business is for them. It doesn’t have to be exclusive: Waitrose has captured a broad middle-class audience by cultivating a brand based on exclusivity, for example.
To begin, you need to identify your target market, whether that’s young parents, the retired, students and so on. This is where you can begin to use market research companies to help you: while you may have a reasonable idea of who wants to buy your products (especially if they’re very specific – prams and buggies don’t have a huge market outside parents!), research will either confirm this, or surprise you! If the demand isn’t where you anticipate, you could waste your first round of marketing budget, which, depending on the resources available to you could be either a disappointing delay or a genuine disaster!
Confirming your audience will suggest an approach to marketing to help build your brand’s power – not just the creative side, but also the places you need to put your content to put it in front of the right people’s eyes. If your audience are late middle-aged home owners, then a heavy ad spend on Instagram may be a bad idea, for example.
Continuing your research as your business launches and ads are sighted in the wild is key to building the power of your brand in customer’s heads – tracking brand recognition and customer’s opinions about your offering mean you can see the results your decisions are having in close to real time. This means you can tune future decisions with this data and gradually become more and more confident that you’re creating something customers will love, which gives you real brand power.