A business owner’s guide to brand building

As a business owner, one of the most important things to do is to let your customers and potential customers know that you supply a product and/or service. They need to form a clear association between what you supply and what services you provide so that at any time they can come directly to your business for provision of such. The way that you do this is by developing a solid brand.

A brand means different things to different people

Depending on who you speak to, they will give you different definitions of what a brand is. For example, branding and marketing authority, Philip Kotler, states that “Branding is much more than attaching a name to an offering. Branding is about making a certain promise to customers about delivering a fulfilling experience and a level of performance.”

However, trademark attorneys – such as Hans Muhlberg in his book The Law of the Brand ­– will define a brand as “… any sign that can be represented graphically and that is used by persons for the purpose of distinguishing their products from those of others. A brand is therefore a distinguishing sign.”

We think of a brand as a combination of the two. Yes, one of a brand’s primary function is indeed to distinguish one’s business from a competitors however, having a brand for a business also plays a part in persuading the consumer to buy your product or service as opposed to that of your competitors.

The power of the brand

A strong brand can make or break your business, and if someone else tries to usurp a powerful brand that you have created, it could result in hundreds of thousands of rands in lost revenue for you.

Companies go to great lengths and great expense to protect their brands. McDonald’s is a good example of a company which has built an incredibly strong brand and has gone to great lengths to protect it. They have gone to court to prevent companies from using any product names which could be confused with their name and be seen as being part of the McDonald’s business which ultimately would lead to lost revenue.

How to build a powerful brand

A powerful brand directly translates into revenue for your business. This is so that the more people who need your product or service and know about you and see the value in what you are offering, the more sales you’ll see. We have put together – what we feel – are three of the most important points that any business owner needs to follow when building a strong brand.

Define your competitive advantage

Your brand is informed by what your business offers. This means that, before you start to define your brand, you need to have a very clear idea of what you offer the market so that you can develop your brand on a rock-solid foundation.

Do your research

When you have a great idea for your business brand, do your research to make sure that there is not a similar brand out there. If there is, and you decide to go ahead with building your own similar brand, not only could you land up in legal trouble, but the weight of your brand will be diluted as it will be seen as a “me-too” brand that is not original and would not bring any value to the customer.

Always monitor customer service

Bad customer service is one of the main reasons why consumers decide to no longer buy a particular product or subscribe to a service. In a recent survey, a provider of cloud contact centre software, workforce optimisation and analytics surveyed 700 of their customers to find out what the gaps were in their experience of the company. Overwhelmingly, a lack of customer service came up as why they were choosing to go to the company’s competitors.

Brand building and brand management is not a static operation. Once you have built your brand you cannot just leave it. You have to nurture it and make sure that should there be any reputational damages to the brand that these are sorted out quickly so that the brand and business do not suffer any long-lasting damage. As a business owner, it is your job to do this.

The Digital School of Marketing is an online provider of accredited digital marketing education. To find out more, visit our website on www.digitalschoolofmarketing.co.za, call us on 0861 428 710 or e-mail: info@digitalschoolofmarketing.co.za.