|Branding has traditionally been viewed as an activity for the big corporate organizations and multinationals that supposedly has big pockets to spend on marketing. As such, when business planning is taking place, the marketing manager often has a rough time convincing the finance manager that a budget for branding and marketing should be allocated. A good understanding and appreciation of what branding is and the impact it can have on your business may shift this paradigm and give SMEs impetus to embark on marketing and branding activities without reservations.
There are two broad elements of a brand, namely; the physical attributes and the intangible attributes. The physical has everything to do with what your market can see, touch, hear or taste, they say that perceptions of your brand. It is the premise from which you operate, the packaging of your product, your company logo, products logos, forms, brochures, and stationery that you use to run your business. When your customers interact with all these physical items or touch points, they form perceptions of your company or brand and the kind of service they are likely to get from your organisation.
How the physical attributes of your brand affects your business:
When you are attending an important function or a business meeting you consciously or unconsciously ensure that you are smart, presentable and well prepared to make a good impression. Most probably if you are a lady you will go to the salon to refresh your hairdo and general grooming and for gents you will go for a shave. This principle applies to your business. The way your business is presented or appears in the market determines whether the market gets a good impression or not. A good impression then motivates the consumers to seek and buy your products.
Creating a good impression
The name for your business and products should be attractive, easy to pronounce, remember and recognize. Your corporate identity made up of your logo, icon, images and the colors that you chose on your communication, stationery and collateral, should reflect your uniqueness and differentiate you from your competitors. If you do not have competitors your corporate identity should be one that your customers can remember and be inspirational to them, so that they have positive feelings about your brand.
Your company identity should also have a link to your mission or the services that you are offering. For example a business in the food industry and another in the agricultural industry would have varying logo, colors and design concepts, from one that is the manufacturing or banking industry.
A brand with good physical attributes but poor intangible ones is as dead as a dodo!
We are all familiar with the tangible attributes of our brand as they are visible. The intangible attributes are those aspects of the brand that depict the values, personality and functional aspects of the brand. Picture that one kiosk or shop that is always crowded with customers patiently waiting for their return to be served; while next door a shop selling similar items hardly has any queue. I bet this happens not because the shop is more presentable than the rest. In addition to it being attractive physically, such businesses would also have a unique way of serving customers – their products and services are tailored with the customer’s needs and expectations in mind, they continuously listen and respond appropriately to their customers. The customer is not a number or a body! They value their customers and as the old saying goes, “The customer is King!”
Your Brand Image
A combination of the physical and intangible attributes of your business/brand creates your brand image. A business with a good logo, colors, offices, shops etc; but which falls short in service delivery, customer relationships and ability to respond to customer’s needs and expectations will soon be as dead as a dodo. Only new customers who, having been attracted by the physical presentations of your business will buy from you. However, as soon as they have experienced the poor service, they most likely will not buy from you again.
On the other hand, brands with poor physical presentations – no logos at all, poorly designed logos, icons; inappropriate colors and combination create a “first bad impression”. This results in low attraction of customers to the brand and a perception of low quality of service or products offering are created.
It is therefore imperative that SMEs invest in creating a positive brand image, to attract new customers, retain regular customers and build their market shares in the markets they operate in.
Helen Kithinji is a Brand consultant. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org