22 June 2008

Consistency and the power of branding

Branding is one of those words we hear a lot. ‘Developing a brand’, ‘building a brand’, ‘brand value’ and so on. Most people think branding is applicable only to large corporations but it isn’t. It is equally important for small businesses.

Any business can build a brand. Put simply this means when a consumer sees your company name (and logo) they have a positive perception about the business. This is one of the most appealing aspects of buying a franchise—you are purchasing an accepted brand name that consumers will hopefully already know and have a positive opinion about. Clearly it takes time to build a brand and to develop brand awareness but we all need to do it. The smallest of businesses can build and develop their brand and they should.

The real key to branding is consistency: this means sending a consistent message through your advertising, corporate look and feel, promotional material, website etc. All of this material should have a similar look and feel. The better the consistency the more effective the business will be at building a strong brand and as a result, the more benefits the business will get from portraying a professional corporate image.

Consistency is controlled by systems—having the right mechanisms in place to ensure all aspects of your business are consistent is the starting point. Consistency of any business needs to be driven from the top. The importance needs to be understood and reinforced by the business owners or senior management. Some people internally can see this as simply being pedantic. The problem is that if consistency isn’t adhered, brands are diluted as people make up their own stationery, email signatures, flyers (having publisher on a computer doesn’t make the user a graphic designer).
Now I know I have also discussed that change is a good thing in corporate imaging but I would like to clarify this. Having a current, relevant and impressive corporate image is essential to making a winning business. If yours doesn’t achieve these goals then it needs to be changed and your customers will adapt. But when the change is made, you need to build your corporate image and your brand with consistency in all that you do.

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