Top 10 Guide: Marketing your Start-Up and SME
Immerse yourself with international brand man and entrepreneur, Graham Dodridge who shares his insight and experience.Download Now
We see brand as the total experience that customers, prospects, employees and shareholders have of your organisation. As such, everything that your company does and everything that it says has an impact on how people perceive you. In the era of social media companies can’t bury their heads in the sand and hope for the best in the face of customer criticism. Engagement is essential at every level to share the values of your business and manage the expectations of all stakeholders. Brand equity is the cumulative value your business has in the hearts and minds of all interested parties and the value of your business can be linked to this in fiscal terms. What price can be placed on the goodwill of future performance when planning and negotiating an exit strategy for example?
Strong recognition comes from regular exposure to a brand. From advertising campaigns to ‘thought leadership’ programmes to events and viral marketing – in a world of intense competition – it’s critical to tell your organisation’s story in a consistent and simple way. Successful brands understand the market need and adapt their products and services to best satisfy those demands. They communicate clearly and concisely the truth about what they manufacture or do and they must become trusted. The most successful brands talk the language of the people they serve in a way that is digestible and implicitly understood. Highly recognisable brands very often spark an emotional response as well as apparently solving logical customer needs.
The creation of a meaningful mission and vision to define your organisation’s true values and ‘personality’ as well a compelling customer proposition are the foundations of creating and communicating your new brand. They must truly reflect the truth and ambitions of your products and services. A disconnect here may well create a disillusioned audience and generate disappointment. Get it right and you will trigger a brand journey that could last a lifetime. In order to stand out from a cluttered market place you should look for and draw out points of difference from the competitors. Why are your products and services best suited to serve. You may focus on being ‘best in class’ or delivering the most cost-effective solution. Either way it’s important to clearly and consistently define the benefits to end users and to reinforce your brands messages wherever possible.
The companies that achieve the greatest success and therefore become ubiquitous brands do it through delivering consistent product quality and service levels at a price that is most acceptable to their customers. If any one element is broken or wrong in this equation the business is unlikely to achieve success, let alone become a super brand. Companies should listen to their prospects and customers in the first instance. Manufacturing a product that nobody wants, pitching a service at a high price without clearly qualifying the customer benefit or simply over-promising on the customer benefits are all routes that are probably doomed to fail. A great idea is nothing without a route to market and a great product goes nowhere without key distribution channels. And so creating awareness in the first instance is very important to driving demand and ‘sales leads’.
It stands to reason that if, as previously stated, brand is the total experience an interested party has of your organisation, then creating a consistent brand experience, from the very early stages of product design right through to lead generation is essential. From Twitter and Facebook to Billboard advertising and viral video shorts, and from events stands and pop up shops to PR and experiential marketing, customer empathy is key. The old adage that ‘People buy people’ is as true today as it has ever been and despite the fact that today there is a myriad routes to market and communications channels, brand management is the very nucleus of every successful organisation.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and winning hearts and minds is no easy task. For all the successes we celebrate there are plenty who never made it. What characterises those super brands that we all know and love is that they have evolved highly sophisticated listening apparatus, very often utilising the best big data analytics available. They have developed their stories to inspire us, often leveraging tribal dynamics or even crowd sourcing for answers to complex life and lifestyle issues. They have systems and procedures in place to assist dissatisfied customers and they employ the best tacticians, business minds and creative agencies to achieve their ambitions. However, as Steve Jobs at Apple told us in 1984 “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” So take your blind ambition, dogged determination, can do attitude and sheer hard work and liberally apply some clear brand thinking and we’ll all become your brand disciples in the near future.
Graham Dodridge is CEO and Creative Director of Silver. Graham oversees all Silver brand development projects. He founded global agency Gyro in 1991, followed by Silver in 2006. With more than twenty years experience his agencies are benefiting the fortunes of companies such as EMC, Virgin Atlantic, American Express, Cisco, Adobe, CGI, Oracle and HP around the world. At weekends you’ll find him with his children at the local rugby field or poring over one of his beloved Taschen books. Graham is a keen photographer and has a permanent exhibition at Gusto in Montpellier, Cheltenham.