What is a brand?

Branding is all about perception and essentially tells a business’s story, provides differentiation from competition and essentially tells a back story.

A strong brand has the power to instil a sense of trust and meaning in people. The way a business has positioned itself in the eyes of a customer can become a point of consideration in buying decisions. For example people choose to buy Apple phones over Android because they like the way Apple has positioned itself as a brand, even when the Android phones have more features.

Someone may decide to spend $80 000 for a high-end luxury vehicle when they could spend $15 000 and get a car that fulfils that same function. But they spend the money on the luxury brand because they know this brand is seen as exclusive and they want to put forth the message that they have money.

Building brand awareness takes time and brands like Nike, Mercedes and BMW have built it up over many years. For new businesses, building and shaping a brand can be a challenging undertaking.

Here are some ways that new businesses can build and shape their brand in the minds of their customers:

1.) Professionalism. Always approach everything you do in business with professionalism, especially when your business isn't as well known and lacks resources larger firms have access to. This helps to instil trust in people

2.) Customer service. Always strive for excellent customer service, especially if your business is small. Going the extra mile when your customers don’t expect it will help set your business apart from competitors. If something goes wrong (it’s bound to happen at some stage) sort it out as quickly as possible and consider a complimentary gift/voucher as consolation for the inconvenience.

Follow up after the sale. Give the customer a call or drop them an email and find out if they're satisfied with the purchase and if there was anything that could have been done better. Customer experience and professionalism are make or break areas for all businesses, whether you're involved in corporate signage maintenance and design or running a small corner café.

Word of mouth is a powerful marketing medium and in a world where social media is a click away, it's easy for customers to say something (Good or bad) about your brand.

3.) Collaboration can be an effective way to raise brand awareness. The key to successful collaboration is finding a brand that complements, but not competes with yours. Some good examples of successful collaborations include Nike/iPod or Adidas/Star wars. As a start-up it may be challenging to find companies willing partner with you, but if you can pull it off your business will gain invaluable exposure.

The end game is finding out what your customers value and shaping your brand to be in-line with this.
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This article was written by Michael James who is an avid cyclist, food lover, wine drinker and music fan. 

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