Four steps to building a successful brand
A strong brand allows restaurants to have lineups at their door, sometimes even in winter, while most of their competitors’ establishments in the same neighbourhood are empty. It allows some professionals to turn down work and to increase their rates regularly, while others providing the same services are desperately seeking new customers.
What secrets do strong brands like Apple and Coke hold? How can small business owners use them as a source of inspiration? Here are four steps for building a valuable brand.
1. Define how you want to be perceived
When your customers have finished using your product or service, how do you want them to describe the experience? Some examples:
“Wow, this restaurant has the largest portions in town. It’s great!”
“You really feel as though you’ve been invited for a traditional Italian family dinner. The dishes are simple, but so delicious!”
“The service is quick and the food is okay, but the price is really unbeatable!”
See your brand as your promise to your customers—a promise that is different from your competitors.
2. Organize your business based on this promise
Keeping the promise that sets you apart from your competitors implies doing something more than they are. For example, the restaurant that wants to be recognized for its unbeatable prices will have to find a way to maximize the number of customers served per table in one evening. The margin per individual customer will be less, but the number of customers will make up for it.
In other words, your brand will greatly influence the winning formula that you will base your business on.
3. Communicate your promise
All your marketing material—from the colours of your logo to your website texts—must be developed as a function of this promise. What you say on Facebook or LinkedIn must be aligned with this message, as must the decoration of your premises.
It is at this stage that your brand becomes central to your advertising campaigns. What’s more, your ads will be even more effective, since you will have a clear message to convey.
4. Be consistent
Apple is recognized for making products that are both elegant and innovative. It cannot afford to launch a new phone that is unattractive, or a new tablet that is technologically behind, because that would mean breaking the promise it has made to its customers.
After defining how you want to be perceived, after organizing your business based on this perception, and after communicating this promise, you must be consistent. The idea here is to develop trust. Your customers must no longer see your brand as a promise, but as a reality. Consistency is often the hardest part, but the one with the greatest rewards.
Over time, a well-managed brand stops becoming a company promise and increasingly becomes a customer expectation. Taking one of the above examples, there may be 10 Italian restaurants in the neighbourhood, but only one where customers expect to experience a traditional Italian family dinner. The restaurant’s brand is no longer its name or logo, but the expectation of its customers.
When applying such a strategy, your business will gradually be able to increase both its prices and its sales (that’s right, both at the same time!). Your brand therefore becomes one of your business’ most valuable assets and the one with the most impact on your bottom line.