It seems everyone is “brand building” these days. It’s one of those buzz words that has caught on in the business vernacular like “thinking outside the box” and “moving forward” although not nearly as annoying as those examples. But what is brand building anyway? We’re all pretty familiar with the concept of brand loyalty and the myriad of ways companies try to keep us coming back, but are we as clear about how to build our brand awareness in the marketplace?
The confusion comes when business people think of their brand as their company name and logo. Although this is maybe the most identifiable aspect of your brand, it is by no means the sum total of it. This misconception may be a result of identifying “re-branding” with changing or updating your company logo. Although that is part of the re-branding process, your company’s image and how it is perceived in the marketplace is much bigger than that.
Your brand is everything to do about your organization. From how people are greeted on the phone (or not, as in voice mail hell) to the buying experience your customers have and the after sale care they receive are all part of your brand. The perception of your products or services and your company as a whole make up your brand image. Your brand is a lot like a book. If the cover is great, people will want to open it and read it. But does the content of the book live up to the cover? Is the experience your customers are getting from your organization living up to your advertising claims?
Your brand is the most important commodity of your organization. Inventory comes and goes. Services can be added or dropped according to market demand, but your brand equity is the true value of your company in real terms. Protecting that equity is vital to the long-term success of your organization.
Turning around customer perception of a poor brand is incredibly difficult not to mention expensive. I’d be willing to bet that no amount of money or advertising creativity would get the public to invest in an organization called Enron these days. Now that may be an extreme case of destroying a brand, but altering an existing brand can have the same consequences; think New Coke! Would you buy a Pinto car for any price? Fortunately for Coke and Ford, their corporate brand image was strong enough to survive a poor product brand, but you don’t need that risk!
Building your brand takes time and considerable effort. Often the effort comes from being consistent with your message and service delivery. It’s easy to switch directions in marketing and advertising your business when your marketing efforts don’t seem to be paying off. It’s much harder to stay the course and present a consistent, dynamic message to your customers. Delivering a consistent unified experience to your customers will develop loyalty over time. The more loyal your customers are, the harder it’s going to be for your competitor to steal them away and that’s the bottom line. Your brand is everything. Nurture it, build it and protect it.