What role do you think branding plays in building a successful company? As small business owners, we usually spend much of our time “working in the business,” and less time “working on the business.” Our growth has been through referral and dedicated sales efforts. So why bother with long-term marketing strategies that don’t lead to direct sales?
The fact is, you’re building a brand all the time in business. But is it a brand that will take your company into future? Will it provide more freedom in your lifestyle in 10 years? Will it take you through retirement? Then, will it remain strong in the hands of your children, or those who purchase your business?
If we want our businesses to thrive long-term, we must focus first on defining, then communicating, our brand. The former CEO of United Biscuits describes the importance of branding well having said, “Buildings age and become dilapidated. Machines wear out. People die. But what live on are brands.”
But how can a brand live on without the company founder? With thoughtful planning, a brand can serve as a badge of origin, a promise of performance and a signal of competitive advantage among a sea of fabricators.
STANDING FOR SOMETHING MORE THAN A LOGO
From what we’ve learned about brand leaders such as Volkswagen, FedEx and Microsoft, brand communications allow prospective customers to get to know a company without ever speaking to the owner. We can learn a lot from those who’ve gone before us.
Volkswagen, for example, promises that you don’t have to be wealthy to own a well-engineered car. They’ve successfully gotten this message across through advertising and public relations conducted over many years. In the end, they’ve captured a market that relates to being the underdog. This wasn’t accidental; it was done by design.
A STRONG BRAND REASSURES
Branding creates value to the consumer that is more than just functional; it satisfies a basic human need for control and reassurance. Great brands appeal to an emotional need. For a painter, choosing the “right brand of paint” means going with the manufacturer who will fuel a painter’s sense of pride and achievement in “doing the job properly.”
Understanding how to appeal to a target audience’s unspoken needs is how successful brands are built. Children, for instance, aren’t just choosing cereal; they’re choosing to have fun. Parents aren’t just buying a mini van; they’re buying a practical method to transport their families. Builders and remodelers aren’t just buying countertops; they’re buying fabrication expertise.
By solidifying your brand platform, your company will stand for something more than fabrication. You can become the company preferred by builders, remodelers, home centers and homeowners, a brand that people associate with as a true badge of honor.