If you’re running a business, or thinking about starting one, you have to be aware of brand issues. Your brand is one of your biggest assets, and if it’s working for you it functions as a giant signpost, telling your customers that your business is the right choice for them.
Your brand is built out of all the different ways consumers can interact with your business, and almost every decision you make, big or small, feeds into that. It’s not just the wording of your adverts, but where they appear that shapes a consumer’s impression of your company. If your consumers see your adverts in the Telegraph, your brand starts to pick up associations with that newspaper – with its politics and its readership. For good or ill, you become the sort of brand that advertises in the Telegraph in the minds of your customers. This could be good for you or not, depending on the service or products you offer, and the sort of customers you want to attract, but you need to be aware of the issues involved and ensure you’re building a brand that really works for the customers you need.
The brand you’re building needs to match your business – offering customers a consistent experience from the ad to the website to walking into a store or office is the key to creating an experience they’ll return to. If that chain is broken, whether it’s a print advert offering things that aren’t backed up by the website, to the website creating an impression that’s shattered when your customers walk in the door it could mean losing that customer – losing lots of customers! It doesn’t just apply to factual information: if all your branding decisions create the image of luxury for your customers, you need to be actually able to fulfil those expectations. If they find you can’t offer a luxury service, even if the dry facts of the products you offer are correct, you’ll find yourself dealing with complaints and lacking for the vital repeat business that is the foundation stone of business success.
To make sure your customers are having a smooth journey from branding to service, you need research: a brand tracker survey measures customer responses to your brand (especially valuable if you do this over time so you can track changes over months and years) and your competitors. This ensures that you can be confident your choices are leading to a brand experience that matches what your business can provide.