The importance of branding is understood by most sales and marketing professionals today and in this article I will cover off the channels available to you in order to build your brand. When I say “channels”, I am talking about all of the ways your customers experience your brand and not traditional media channels like TV, radio and print, for example. A simplistic definition of branding revolves around creating an image for your business through signs, logos, graphics and other visual media. However, my own definition is that your brand involves any and every stimulus you send your customers by way of the channels described below.
In thinking about the importance of branding for your business, you should concentrate as a starting point on Written, Verbal, Physical, Multimedia, Behavioural and Psychological aspects of your sales and marketing approach and message. I cover off the first 4 of these in talking about the marketing communication process and related articles. Here, I will cover off these again from the perspective of branding as well as introduce the last 2 as important brand-building concepts you should keep in mind. A simple way to keep your brand in mind is to remember that it involves everything you say, do and, ultimately, are!
I have talked about your marketing personality as a key concept in what I called Sales and Marketing for ”You” and what this means is that your business should have a personality just like you do. Nowadays, an informal and personable approach is the key to success and so more than ever you should think about what kind of personality you want your customers to attribute to your business. This is the starting point for your branding efforts and should inform everything else you do.
The importance of branding permeates into each of the aspects of your business planning as depicted by this graphic. Looking at your sales and marketing from a high level, your focus should be on your customer, positioning and message in that order. Ideally, you should start with a market segmentation in order to know your customer before you can sell them. You should be familiar with their lifestyle and values and mould your brand in order for them to be able to identify with you. The ultimate goal is to create an interactive brand that your customer can experience and be part of.
Positioning looks at how your product or service is designed to solve a customer pain or provide benefits to your customer. You can only create value to the extent that you are doing one or both of these things and your customer sees you exclusively in terms of what you can do for them. Positioning yourself ends with being able to differentiate yourself from your competitors and, ultimately, finding a niche market that you can serve better than anyone else.
The importance of branding comes into play again as you create your message. You are going to be looking at what media channels to utilize in your sales and marketing efforts as well as making sure that your message is integrated across multiple channels. This means that you are delivering a consistent message to your customers regardless of how they interact with you which is a cornerstone of building a successful brand. As well, you need to make sure that your message is “you”-centric which means that you should speak directly to your customers – using the word “you”! – and talk exclusively about WIIFM: what’s in it for them. Finally, in addition to your media choice and overall marketing personality, your message will involve a certain appeal - or technique - by which you seek to connect emotionally with your customers.
The Importance of Branding: Spoken
Verbal sales and marketing is the oldest form of customer communications and should inform everything else you do. Although spoken communications are most often associated with sales, marketing, too, has plenty of verbal communication such as tradeshows, press conferences, analyst briefings and other networking events . Being yourself is an important part of meeting and interacting with people and the importance of branding can be defined by how you extend your individual personality into that of your business.
The Importance of Branding: Written
What do you say to your customers when you speak to them in person? This is the same way you should communicate with them on your website, through brochures, e-mail and other forms of written communication. Just as sales is not about reading a sterile cold calling script like a robot, so too, marketing is less about making a dry announcement about how great you are but rather injecting warmth and personality into what you write. Have you heard the expression, “write as you speak”? Try it, it works! In this way, your written word will take on the personality of your spoken expression and help in terms of building a consistent and integrated brand “voice”.
The Importance of Branding: Physical
Everything from your physical location to your packaging and the customer experience you generate is affected by the question of the importance of branding. You should try and visualize everything that your customer perceives through any of their five senses as being part of your job to influence in terms of successful branding building. What I mean by this is that almost anything and everything about your business from your stationery to the sanitary condition of your bathrooms says a lot about you and what kind of business you run. Making sure that your customer has a great experience means putting quality and excellence at the top of your list of priorities in absolutely every area of your business. This includes not only physical artefacts and your business environment but everything you do.
The Importance of Branding: Multimedia
Use all of the multimedia options available to you today in order to get your message “out there”. By utilizing all of the various forms of electronic communication tools available to sales and marketing professionals today, you can emphasize the importance of branding by building your brand using multipe communication channels. The benefit of doing this is that you can approach this as an integrated marketing communication project which means that your customer will interact with you through a number of ways, while at the same time, your messaging will remain consistent throughout in order to emphasize and build your brand. A simple example of all this is signing up customer to your mailing list at your shop counter and following up with emails that reflect the kind of branding they will see online and in your shops.
The Importance of Branding: Behavioural
What you say and do is one of the most salient aspects within the overall importance of branding and you should stay focused on making sure that your words and actions provide a sure representation of your business. What this means is that you have to say “on point” and professional at all times and that you cannot let your guard down. On the one hand, there is a lot to be said about “being yourself” in your business dealings but my own view is that while you should try and reflect your own personality, you also need to work on developing what I have called your marketing personality which is that true representation of your business from the perspective of a living, breathing person: yourself. You then need to channel your creative efforts, using touches of this business personality in order to create effective sales and marketing campaings using a number of different communication strategies and media.
The Importance of Branding: Psychological
What I am calling psychological branding essentially means building mindshare. Just like you make efforts in order to keep increasing your market share through a variety of sales and marketing efforts, so you should constantly and consistently seek to build awareness of your brand by positioning yourself as an expert in your field and soliciting questions in order to help people who have problems in your areas of expertise. This is exactly what I am doing with www.sales-and-marketing-for-you.com and is the basis for all kinds of networking activities where you engage with people face to face, over the phone and online. An important new tool in the arsenal of the pschological branding advocate is social media marketing which allows you to build your brand one conversation and contact at a time. By positioning yourself as a pre-eminent expert in your field, your business will gain credibility and you will be see as a trusted advisor by association.
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