You see it everyday, companies working to get your attention. Companies like Coca-Cola, IBM and McDonald’s are recognized brands. Some products such as Aspirin have been so successful that they become the name for all products within a specific product category. Companies spend millions of dollars every year to protect and grow their brands.
Companies that are more recognizable for their brand presence are large multi national corporations with a high level of resources. Resources beyond reach of most companies. But what is large now, once was small. Their branding activities established their company and grew it to what it is today. So the question is: how can small companies establish their own brand. And is establishing a brand presence valuable to a small company. For that, we need to reach behind the logo and understand what goes into a branding process.
Branding is comprised of a number of factors common in all companies. These factors are the DNA that make a company what it is and how it is viewed from other companies and individuals.
Core Values: Core values are the company beliefs and are typically formed by company ownership or management. Core values are expressed in a values statement. Other statements which can express a company’s beliefs and direction are vision and mission statements. In addition a code of ethics provides information on how the company acts when relating to their customers. Publishing these statements provide provide prospective customers insight on how they would be treated should they do business with you,. But when they are published companies are fully accountable for their actions and measured against their statements.
People: Each individual that works for the company contribute to the company brand. That contribution can be positive and negative. Selecting the right person for a specific function especially customer facing staff is critical. Good personality and a teachable attitude is very important. Equally important is personnel training. Most skills can be learned and those include communication and customer relations. When feedback from customers is received be that complimentary or critical, listen carefully and act promptly.
Marketing: We live in a fast paced virtual world where information on every product including those of your competitors are available around the clock. Companies and their associated brands can be easily forgotten in the ongoing flood of marketing messages that reach us everyday. As a side note, one other reason it is so important that every customer interaction is a positive. There are multiple marketing channels in use today. Having a presence in multiple channels is important so you are able to ensure your marketing message is heard and covers a wider scope. However focus your efforts on a few core channels which your customer base access regularly. You can achieve good marketing exposure with a balanced approach to product and brand promotion.
Web and Blog Sites: a well structured website with current information on your products and services is anecessary tool in your efforts to promote your brand. A website which is not kept up to date and is difficult to navigate shows negatively on your company. A blog page or separate blog site provides detailed information on your products and demonstrates expertise in your industry. It takes some time to set up and maintain but pays long term dividends and is well worth the effort. There are many low or no cost hosting sites like Word Press that can be used.
The effect of a shifting market on a Brand: Market shifts are sudden and sometimes dramatic. What once was the industry’s buzz is now yesterday’s news. The effects can set a company back months and years in its effort to maintain market share never mind growing it. Today’s news is full of companies who are suffering from a shift in buyer’s preferences and not reacting in time. These companies are fighting an up hill battle to regain their company’s brand presence. Some will survive and some will not.
A Brand’s future value: The efforts to build and grow a brand often do not show tangible results for a long time, months and sometimes years. But if the evidence shows your product has a viable market now and in the future, if you are willing to do the work needed to build and promote your brand and be flexible as markets shift, then your investment will show the results you are looking for.
Can these points be applied to companies large and small? Absolutely. But these points need to be part of a daily routine so your personnel and customers see the effort and invest their resources in your products and services.
Building a brand takes time and effort. Stating your core values in print does make the company accountable for actions of individuals representing the company and actions of the company as a whole. Brands are perishable and can be affected by situations external to the company. Any investment in a brand strategy does have a long term return, patience is critical.
Connect Your Way to WPS for more information on how Wire Process Specialties is applying these principals to our operations.