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TMWstudio offers a series of informative essays on small business communications, written by TMWstaff.
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Strike Up the Band!

BRANDING YOUR MICRO-BUSINESS

What is Branding?

Branding is a concept that applies to every organization – not just the biggies like Mercedes-Benz (prestigious) or Disney (magical).

Your Business Brand is a concept that sets you apart from the competition. It tells the potential customer what to expect. While a Brand can be represented by a name, a symbol or a slogan, in the potential customer’s eye your actual Brand is a reflection of how they feel about your business – and that can be positive, negative or neutral.

Developing a successful Brand requires an integrated Branding Strategy. There’s so much more to it than just sending out a flyer or slapping up a website with your name and logo. Branding goes way beyond that. It involves things like product development, employee training, marketing, product delivery, customer service, and community involvement.

Why is it important?

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a Brand could be worth a million. As a micro-business owner, your Brand is like your personal promise to the customer.

Brand value is sort of like Karma: the net total of all the good and bad you have done. When you do good things in the name of your brand, say treating a customer fairly, you create brand equity and build brand value. The reverse is true when you do something customers don't like and a brand can therefore have either positive or negative equity or value.

BRAND CONCEPTS
Trusted | Economical
Luxurious | Reliable
Cutting Edge | Traditional
‘Green’ | Prestigious
Home-Grown | Classic

Successful Branding isn’t necessarily easy. Take McDonald’s, for instance. It suffered a slow, painful decline from the mid 90s through the last decade, primarily due to its focus on Quantity and Cost Control over Quality and Brand Management. While the number of McDonald’s restaurants increased, its image – and consequently sales – dropped significantly over that period. A new focus on Customer Perception is bringing about an increase in profits again. Better quality coffee, more diligent staff, and healthier meals are all part of McDonald’s re-branding strategy.

BRANDING TOOLS
Business Name | Logo
Business cards | Elevator Pitch
Flyers | Website
Employee Handbook
Standards Manual
Community Involvement
Social Media | Radio Ads
Knowledge!

A GOOD BRAND Sets you apart from the competition Motivates the prospect Establishes user loyalty

Consumers perceive that a particular product or service has certain characteristics or values, and they associate those values with the Brand. Take the banking industry, for example. RBC differentiates itself from other banks on the basis of stability and trustworthiness. This sets it apart from the service PC Financial offers, which is seen as more innovative and responsive to customer demands. This doesn't necessarily mean that one bank is better. It depends on what the prospective client is looking for. For some people "innovative" is more important than "stable".

So, Branding is more about crafting an image that suits the target market than it is about being better or worse. The car manufacturing industry offers us more examples. Toyota might be the most trusted car brand, but Kia may be perceived as offering better value for money. One isn't necessarily better than the other, they just appeal to different buyers.

Where Does a Micro-Business Begin?

Work from the inside out.

What Affects Your Brand Image?

  • Market Demand
    Do you have a product or service people need or want?
  • Message Clarity
    Does your marketing package tell people what you offer clearly and accurately?
  • Conceptual Creativity
    Does your offering stand out in a crowd?
  • Production Consistency
    Is your product or service reliable? Word-of-Mouth Does person-to-person and online chatter back up your claims?

BOTTOM LINE Does your Brand make the right people want to do business with you? If not, you need to re-strategize.

How Do I Control My Brand Image?

You can’t. Your Brand Image is determined by everyone who hears of your business. However, you can steer it in the right direction. Be vigilant regarding anything, both in-house and beyond, that could affect your Brand. Be sure that employees or sub-contractors understand the importance of your Brand and re-establish the concept with them regularly. Actively seek feedback from clients. Keep an eye out for messages generated by competitors, dissatisfied customers, and general media commentary.

BRAND BUG REMEDIES
Be Humble : Admit that something is wrong
Listen  : Get a clear understanding of the extent of the issue
Act Quickly : Don’t let negative reactions snowball
Communicate : Let everyone know what you are doing to make things right

Be Prepared

Any Business Brand has the potential to be damaged in a variety of ways. A devious competitor might openly or covertly attack your good name. A new social trend could have a negative effect on the demand for your product or service. Or a slip-up from within could be the culprit. Whatever the case may be, you need to be prepared to react, respond , and remedy the situation quickly and effectively. A comprehensive Branding Strategy will provide you with the tools to do just that.

What does Branding Cost?

It doesn’t have to be expensive. Your Branding Professional can help you develop an affordable program to minimize costs and maximize effectiveness - a creative, consistent, long-term plan that takes into account your available resources and business goals.


Need help ... ?

With more than 20 years experience creating customized communications products for small to medium-sized enterprises, tmwstudio is able to offer clients with smaller ventures the benefits of big-business tools without the big-business cost.

We tailor-make administrative, communication, marketing and human resource tools to help you run your micro-business smoothly and professionally.

Have a look through our offerings ... then give us a call to see how we can help you and your small business thrive!

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KINGSTON ON

 

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