Branding your business

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Rebranding is not to be undertaken lightly. When asked when a business shouldn’t undergo a full rebrand, Kevin Roberts, Chief Executive Worldwide of advertising giant Saatchi & Saatchi, replies: “Almost all the time. Often it’s not the brand that’s the problem, but the service, execution, product, delivery, or value.”

Rebranding can be expensive so there must be tangible benefits. This makes it easier to communicate it to clients and convince your employees, that it’s worth the cost.

You can create confusion in the market if people don’t understand why you’re doing it.  It’s also fundamental to ensure any new name is available to use, and to protect your own brand equity. Search online to see if anyone is using anything like it in a similar field and take the appropriate Trademark actions.

The execution is critical. Plan how to migrate email and your website, tell suppliers, clients and staff, and change stationery and marketing collateral. Choose a date when your new systems will go live and ensure there’s a crossover period, so people using your old email addresses or website are redirected.

It is strongly recommended that you give a presentation to your staff, showing them what everything would look like down to the business cards and recapping the reasons for the change. “It’s important to allow people to buy into it. Think about how you will inform your existing clients; should you hold a seminar, create a direct mail campaign or a cocktail evening?

Should you rebrand?
Many people enter into rebranding without fully understanding what their existing brand means to everyone. Firstly you should understand what you already have as a brand by talking to your employees, clients and suppliers.

Only then when you completely understand where the brand has been and what it has become can you identify its strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. Remember rebranding costs and can take a significant amount of time to implement. The brand needs to reflect the business plan so make sure you have completed that first!

A brand is a perception. It’s the reputation of your company in the mind of your client. It’s a perception that will have a lasting impact on how a client, employee and supplier interact with your business. So it’s critical that you get that perception right.

External branding consists of your advertising, signage and sales messages. These messages should be considered as promises to potential clients, because this will form the basis of you new clients’ perception. If you fail to deliver on your brand promises, then you may cement distrust in the brand and ultimately lose the client and anyone they chose to share the experience with.

Internal branding relates to the inner workings of your business, your client service and communication, your sales process and delivery; decide on why you are changing your brand.

The brand report card
Rate your existing brand on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = extremely poor; 10 = extremely good) for each of the following characteristics. Create a similar report card for your competitors. Compare and contrast the results. Doing so should help you identify areas that need improvement. Be brutally honest when answering these questions, act like you are an outsider.

1. The team understand what the brand means to clients
– You have identified your ideal target client?
– You have a defined brand mantra?
– You have guidelines for all marketing collateral?

2. The brand is properly positioned
– You have established points of difference?

3. Clients receive superior delivery of the benefits they value most
– Have you attempted to uncover unmet client needs and wants?
– Do you constantly focus on maximising your client experience?

4. The brand takes advantage of the full repertoire of branding and marketing activities available to build brand equity
– Have you strategically chosen and designed your brand name, logo, symbol, signage and so forth to build brand awareness and image?

5. Marketing & Communications are seamlessly integrated. The brand communicates with one voice
– Have you considered all the alternative ways to create brand awareness and link associations?
– Have you ensured the common meaning is contained throughout all your marketing activities?

6. The brand’s pricing strategy is based on client perceptions of value
– Have you estimated the added value perceived by clients?
– Have you optimized price, cost and quality to meet or exceed client expectations?

7. The brand uses appropriate imagery to support its personality
– Have you established credibility by ensuring that the brand and the people behind it are seen as experts, trustworthy and likeable?
– Have you crafted the right personality?

8. The brand is innovative and relevant
– Have you stayed up to date with your industry and clients?

9. For a multiproduct, the brand hierarchy and portfolio are strategically sound
– Do the brands maximise market coverage while minimizing their overlap at the same time?

10. Your company has in place a system to monitor brand equity and performance
– Have you created a brand manual so employees are aware of how the brand should be treated?
– Do you conduct brand audits to assess the health of your brands and to set strategic direction?

(K.L.Keller Strategic Brand Management)

What next?
You need to establish goals and a clear vision of your desired future which is best taken from your business plan.

Define a goal by first asking WHY?  Are you re-branding to increase your client leads, inform prospects of your total service offering or to increase your revenue? Do you wish to sell the business? Perhaps push for greater growth. Or do you simply wish your existing clients to view your business as having greater value?

Without understanding the WHY of branding your business, how will you know where to direct your activities?

A value proposition should convey what your business does how it does it and why your prospects should care and if possible, what makes it different from other financial advisers.

Once you have begun implementation of your brand, make sure to test and measure the effectiveness of your activities through surveys, polls, customer feedback devices and key performance indicators. The measurement of real numbers is the only way to be sure of your success. The more you test, measure and adjust accordingly the more accurate your branding results will become.

To download a branding checklist, click here.

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