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Building a strong brand on an ongoing basis should be at the heart of all marketing efforts. There is no point in putting up billboards and paying for Facebook ads if your brand does not speak to your target audience in the right way. For me, a strong brand is important because a) it sets you apart from your competition and allows you to stand out in your industry and b) it sets the stage for building customer loyalty.
The brand is the holistic identity of the business. It encompasses all aspects of your business for example your visuals – logos, fonts, colours, where your product / service is sold, your communication voice and your online content.
To begin with, you need to take some time to think about why you want to start a business in the first place. You need to think about if you are doing this out of a passion you have (your emotions may then get in the way) or you are trying to solve a problem (you may get too systematic about it) or you are trying to uplift others (your ego may then get in the way). It is all about creating the right balance between your passion, your need to solve a problem, your drive to uplift others and then of course, the need to make a profit. Figuring out your motive will allow you to balance the various elements of brand building to ensure that you are focused on the goals of the business rather than your personal goals.
Here are a few steps to take to help you with the initial stages of brand building
- List your vision / mission / objectives for the brand – Think about your brand in the short term and in the long term to set goals which are sensible, realistic, quantifiable and can easily be evaluated.
- Long term – Household name? (Think about everyday brands) luxury brand? Aspirational brand? (think brands the younger generation looks up to)
- Short term – Break even? Build social media following? Sales goals? Networking opportunities? Database building?
- Identify your target market – This will feed into what and how you communicate. There is extensive research out there on different demographics in Ghana, seek out this information (or ask for it) , have a look to see the different groups you can target. It is also good to identify a niche you might be servicing and define your target according to your own rules.
- Research your competitors – Have a look to see what your competitors are up to, are there any patterns you can identify? Do they all use similar colours / language / font? Why or why not? Where do you fit in? Can you do better? Do you have the ability to change the industry in general based on what your competitors are doing (or not)? Are you able to fill a gap that is empty?
- Set parameters for your brand – What qualities do you want your brand to have? Is it a fun brand? Corporate? Industry leader? Do you take customized orders? Where will you stock your product? What does your brand stand for?
This is the stage where a comprehensive brand questionnaire will help you to define your parameters.
- Figure out your image – How do you want to visually represent your business? Models? ‘Real’ people? Graphics? Text only? Colours? Font size? Font? Image quality?
- Figure the appropriate communication tools – This depends on factors listed above. A brand targeted at the older generation will have to use different tools (or a different combination of tools) to reach the target. There is no specific communication tool that has been delegated to a specific target group however you need to figure out the right combination which will allow you to directly target your consumer.
Strong brands are not built in a day; you need to be patient, stick to the goals / parameters you have set and don’t be afraid to get help where you can.
Other concepts to consider
- Brand recognition – you want to create an overall brand that will stand out from the competition
- Narrative – your brand should be telling a unique story
- Imagery / visuals – your imagery / visuals should be apt and should always be of high quality
- Emotional component – your brand should have an emotional component either through its visuals or its narrative
I know this is a lot of information, I am more than happy to talk you through different aspects of your marketing if you are stuck, get in touch with any specific questions you might have. I am also able to devise a brand questionnaire to steer you in the right direction when it comes to your brand. I can also help to develop a comprehensive brand book (brand guidelines) for your brand.
One of my main objectives is to provide you with tools you can use to build your marketing ‘department’ even if you are running a one man (woman) show. So far, you have access to a template for your SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats of your business) as well as a template to help you to develop your overall marketing strategy.
As always, feedback is very much welcome, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are new here, take a look at why I started this blog as well as how to develop an effective marketing strategy.
Until next time,