If you have competitors and you take money for your products or services, then you are a brand.
But lots of the pub and food brands that we work with say that they are not a brand. They say "we're not big enough" or "we don't have the money for that" or "we can't afford to act like a brand".
But if a small business is your brand (or at least a brand that you look after), then you have as much right to define and promote it as the next company.
The word brand can have expensive connotations as it is usually closely followed by the word agency, communications or the c-word … consultant.
But with some time and the right structure, you can develop your brand yourself and beat your immediate competitors.
I coach and mentor pub groups on this very subject and I try to get across that the process of defining your brand and acting like one can be extremely simple. And it applies to businesses of all types and sizes. What you are searching for is your brand DNA.
Start by choosing four people from your team, ideally those from different departments, with different levels of seniority and length of service. Choose a facilitator and set aside time to have some in-depth conversations.
The questions that the group must answer are:
Describe your business as if you were describing it to your grandmother. No corporate jargon and no waffle. A pub yes, but what kind of pub?
If you could only have one type of customer for the rest of your business life, who would that be?
Think of all of the possible reasons why customers would use your product or service. List as many as possible, and have a vote on the main reasons.
Take three competitors that are keeping you awake at night. Ask members of your team to pretend that they are in charge of those companies and list all the reasons why they are better than your company – be honest, brutal and factual. You then have the chance at the end of each presentation to say why you are better than the competitor. Four or five unique selling points or competitive advantages should be clear after this exercise.
Take a range of recent magazines (travel, music, gossip, home, food, photography, sport). Pass these out to the group and ask them to find one picture each that encapsulates the personality of your company. Ask people to present their pictures, and words that describe them, to the group. Write up the main personality words and then narrow all the collated words down to four that describe your brand.
Once you have agreed on your brand personality keywords, select supporting words for the main brand personality words. For example, if brave is one of your main brand personality words, it could mean that pioneering, confident and spirited are good supporting words for your tone of voice. This is then how you sound on all communications, from your website to social media posts.
Now pull all of the answers together. Start with a positioning statement such as: "Our role in the life of our customer is …". A generic example could be: "Our role in the life of our customers is to serve a curated range of craft beers and ales, fine wines and high end seasonal dishes using fresh, local ingredients in a warm and friendly environment."
Then weave in what you do, who the customer is, their motivation and how you do it. This should be a tight paragraph that has no waffle in it. It will be packed full of everything that you have discovered over the session.
Finally, take your brand DNA statement and sum it up in two words. Think of this as a shorthand version of your longer brand DNA statement, for everyone in your business to keep in mind at all times.
I would thoroughly recommend spending £14.99 on your brand by buying Winning in Your Own Way by Robert Bean - this will talk you through the importance of brand and how to go about acting like one.
Copyright © 2016 Mark McCulloch, founder and ceo of WE ARE Spectacular.
A strong brand drives growth but many marketers complain that business leaders don't understand what branding actually means for their business - and research backs this up.
The recent Brand Experience report from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) reveals that two-thirds (67%) of marketers believe their leaders fail to fully embed their company's identity and values throughout their organisation and in relationships with customers.
For a company to understand and implement brand values, I believe the motivation needs to start at the top. But this is not just an issue for large companies - it's important for businesses of all sizes, including small firms.
Spencer Hannah, co-founder and director of Herdy, strives to ensure that brand is integrated throughout his company and believes it's a necessity for leaders to not only present the importance of the brand vision, but to make it one of their top priorities and really live it and breathe it.
In practice this means recruiting people that show a passion for the Herdy way of being. Employees, customers and social communities are all part of the Herdy family. In order to maintain this family atmosphere, Spencer holds weekly informal meetings where everyone has an opportunity to share what they are working on.
This ensures that the Herdy brand vision is aligned across the company and provides its leaders with an opportunity to engage and hear the views of members of the team and make sure they feel that they are working towards a common goal.
Marketing is not just about the external selling of a company's products or services, it is about creating a brand that can be communicated to customers through all of their interactions with the business.
For me, it is really important that small business leaders take responsibility to ensure that their company's values are integrated across the organisation, to help ensure their brand isn't superficial and to unlock its full potential to drive value for the business.
Copyright © 2016 Steve Woolley, head of external affairs at the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
How can a marketer recruit advocates to a new product? It is far from easy. For most new products it is hard enough persuading consumers to notice the product, let alone try it, become loyal to it or start recommending it to friends and family.
The brand ignorance problem is often seen as an offline marketing issue. However, it’s even more of a challenge online. The sheer volume of content makes it more difficult to catch that all-important few seconds of the consumer’s attention.
There’s only a fleeting moment when a shopper notices a new product in amongst the familiar ones on the shelf, or on their screen. It’s an opportunity to make or break a fledgling business – that magical moment when a shopper reaches out. New products and their marketers have three vital jobs to do if they want to use that opportunity well.
Sunbites, a healthy snack, had high repeat purchase rates but the packaging was entirely focused on the wholegrain content of the product and that was putting off new customers who wanted a healthy snack that tasted good. It was not achieving credible shelf stand-out.
Changing the packaging and using language to reflect just how tasty, light and enjoyable Sunbites are had an almost immediate impact. Nielsen sales data revealed a 26% uplift in sales for the first three months. This was no short-term spike. Sales of Sunbites have risen from £8m before the rebrand to more than £40m now. But this success began by getting noticed on shelf.
Getting noticed is not the same as being bought. A brand can stand out on shelf for all the wrong reasons and if it incites indifference or even revulsion it is not going to succeed. It must be desirable enough for the shopper to pick it up and put it in the basket.
This can be done in a number of ways. Brands need to think carefully about the best on-pack visuals – product imagery, colours, logo and so on – as well as the copy they use to describe themselves. What product attributes do they want to convey? What tone do they want to adopt?
Sometimes there is a simple solution. Take Higgidy Pies, for example, which had built a £500,000 turnover selling its premium pies into deli counters and multiples such as Eat. In 2006, it gained a listing in Sainsburys and as a result, it redesigned its packaging introducing a window so shoppers could see the pies.
This not only shows the quality of the product but it is an approach that is unique in the sector. Ultimately, the Higgidy brand promises pies that are as good as you would make for your own family. The window was the vehicle to convey the desirability of the product. Sales grew so that the company now turns over more than £20m and has just doubled its production capacity.
People love stories. We love hearing them and we love sharing them. If your brand gives people a story they can pass on to their friends and family then it is well on its way to creating brand advocates.
David Holliday and Oliver Shute set up their company in 2011 selling soups, stocks and pasta sauces made from wild game. They knew they were tapping into a growing food movement. But by 2013 it became clear that their brand and design was only reaching people who already eat game. The “Country Life” visuals and copy were, in the magical moment it takes to convert shoppers, alienating the affluent urban experimenters who don’t currently eat wild game but would if they knew about it.
So, the first change was to insert “and” into the name. “David Oliver” sounded too formal and staid. “David & Oliver” brought the brand back down to earth. Splitting the name also allowed the introduction of the two characters, the embodiment of the brand. The logo, now full of life, tells the story of David and Oliver. It excites the customer, portraying exactly where the ingredients have come from and are going to.
Again, this investment in branding paid off. David & Oliver is now listed in Waitrose, it is adding ready meals to the range and is expanding into France and Belgium.
Most importantly, it now has a small army of brand advocates up and down the country who are enthusiastically retelling the story of David and Oliver, two entrepreneurs who dared to do something different. The product, just like Sunbites and Higgidy Pies, has succeeded in that vital moment.
Copyright © 2014 Adrian Collins is managing director of Ziggurat Brands, an identity and innovation consultancy.
Is your brand image working for you?
Many logos were designed in the pre-digital age, with the simple aim of looking great in print. If your logo was created in the days of brochure-style flat websites, before the incarnation of social media, the chances are it could do with a refresh. Take a step back to see yourselves as others see you and make the changes you need to bring back the magic.
What are you trying to show your customers? Choose a style that reflects the tone and feel of your business – its personality. Look at content, colour, font, imagery and texture and check if there is anything similar already out there. Your need a brand that gets people interested and makes you stand out for all the right reasons.
Your branding needs to translate seamlessly across your traditional marketing, digital marketing and social media platforms. Getting the right mix of where, when and how to position your new branding is critical. The trick is to develop a multi-dimensional icon to give maximum impact and flexibility. Today’s rich media formats offer great new opportunities for animation and sound – so get creative.
Don’t just come up with ideas yourself. Ask others what they think and make sure you get honest, unbiased feedback. Start with your customers and staff but ensure you ask the opinion of those unfamiliar with your business too.
You need to be noticed so let your ideas run free. Create an image that will lift you above the sea of icons in digital marketing and on social media; that will also boost your message in print. There is a fine line between standing out and not dating your look so avoid anything too “now” that will very soon need refreshing.
Your customers are highly mobile, accessing their information on a range of devices in all kinds of locations so test every element of your new identity to make sure it works well across platforms.
Creating a list of everywhere your logo appears is a daunting task. Start gathering this sooner rather than later to make sure you don’t miss anything.
While you’d love a clean handover, be realistic and accept that as a small business, unless you are working with unlimited resources and are prepared to waste materials (which is unlikely), there will be the odd mismatch in your marketing materials during the phasing-in period. To keep costs and waste down, only print what you are likely to need in the run-up to the changeover.
A new look doesn’t have to tie with a particular event but if it does there is all the more opportunity to shout about it. Think about the time and place that is likely to create the most impact.
There are pros and cons of each and many small businesses simply don’t have the expertise in-house. Choose the best route for you but either way set a clear budget as developing a new brand can become a time-consuming, costly business.
Copyright © 2014 Sally Barrett Spring, head of creative at Moneypenny.
When I’m out and about speaking and running workshops on marketing I’m often faced with puzzled looks when I start talking about branding. But the fact is that your brand can become one of your strongest marketing assets — even if you are a micro-business.
It isn’t an easy area though: it’s as much as art as a science. Get it right and you will have loyal customers who come back again and again; get it wrong and customers could be indifferent towards your brand or even hostile.
So how can you build a brand that has the power to drive your ambitious business?
Here, in part one of a two-part blog, are four ways to maximise the power of your brand.
People become obsessed with the logo of a brand, mistakenly believing that this is the brand. But the most powerful brands mean something deeper to their customer base — and it’s that meaning that keeps people buying, even when it might be more rational to choose a cheaper option.
The first step is to accept that a brand is not entirely in your control. It is an impression that exists in your customers’ minds created by how you look, what you say, what you stand for and how you help them. But you can influence this impression by defining your brand identity and then ensuring that it runs through your entire business so that your customer has a complete end-to-end experience that lives up to their – and your – aspirations.
This is a contentious statement – especially for a brand expert like me. But the name of the business doesn’t have any significance until you give it meaning.
Think about all the made-up words that are brand names – Google, Hibu, Spotify, Moo. They all have very strong brand identities but before they defined what they wanted to stand for, those words meant nothing. So pick a name that you like and that’s available as a domain name, and then work on creating something that customers can identify with.
To create effective brands, the real work starts long before the creative people are let loose with their colouring pencils.
Start by deciding what makes you different within the market and being specific about what you deliver to your consumers. Next, define your values and ethics – this is about defining what you believe in, what would will always do and what you never do. Finally, think about the personality of your brand. Imagine a person and describe them.
Then you can work on the words, behaviours and images to portray this to your customers.
Now you can develop the visual part of branding, which includes the logo, colours, fonts and even tone of voice to bring your personality to life. This is the artistic bit – and much less about science – so it can be quite subjective
Write a detailed brief for a designer that outlines what you want to convey and to whom so that they can bring the brand to life in words and images.
If you create strong visual codes, your customers will know it is you even when you play with your codes – just as Google does with its daily doodles.
Copyright © 2014 Christina Richardson is a business marketing specialist, mentor and founder of The Nurture Network. She is also co-founder of the Brand Gathering community, helping young businesses to grow by working together.
Whether you’re launching a new business or rebranding your website, the chances are you’ll need to make some decisions about colour at some point along the line.
And, whilst colour will make your business look more exciting, interesting and engaging, the right colours can also help you sell more products and services. Colour psychology can help you communicate consistently and coherently and compel your customers to buy.
It would be lovely if I could tell you that picking red will grab attention and that’s the colour you must put on your website, but the truth is that it’s a little more complicated than that.
There is no list of must-have colours for every business. Just as your business is unique, so are the colours that’ll work for you. But with some thought, you can create a colour palette to help attract customers and build your brand.
Start by defining your intention. What makes your business unique, why do your customers love what you do and what impression do you want to create? Make a list of key words and pick just three that encapsulate what you’re trying to do.
Now, take advantage of colour psychology — it’s a great framework to create colour palettes that work. In particular, you can consider which seasonal personality best represents your business.
Spring businesses are creative, inspiring communicators who value simplicity and clarity and the spring personality is often described as spontaneous, proactive and forward-thinking. Use light, bright, clear and warm colours with a softness and delicacy about them.
Summer businesses are organised, efficient, romantic, graceful and elegant. The Summer personality is reserved, thoughtful and intuitive. It also feels a strong sense of responsibility and will never let you down. Use delicate, cool and muted shades. Flowing lines and a softness of tone is very Summer and a soft, watercolour style works well.
Autumn businesses are earthy, organic, community-minded and value-driven. Autumn brands have a strong connection to nature, a love for the past, a thirst for understanding how and why things work and they often enjoy challenging the status quo. The Autumnal personality makes a great campaigner. As you might expect, shades are warm, intense and muted.
Finally, Winter businesses are dynamic, distinctive, dramatic and luxurious. Winter is a season of extremes and the Winter personality is usually highly focused on the task in hand and excellent at both the big picture and drilling down into the detail. Pick cool, bright and intense shades — this is the only season you should use black for.
By using colours from just one season you can communicate a highly confident and powerful message.
Once you’ve picked your season, select colours that will support your brand messages. For example, yellow will communicate confidence, optimism, self-esteem and happiness. Red is a great colour to communicate energy, strength and vitality. Blue is good for communication, clarity, logic or efficiency. Orange is great for creativity, abundance and fun while green is restful and represents balance and harmony.
So why not take a more considered approach to colour next time you work on your brand identity? It’ll make the world of difference.
Copyright © 2014 Fiona Humberstone. Fiona is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut and heads a creative and branding consultancy. She is running a colour psychology workshop in London on 30th September.