Your brand isn’t just an add-on to be considered as and when. It should be right at the centre of your business, affecting everything you do and simultaneously reflecting the sum of everything you do. It is, in essence, both the cause and effect of all your actions.
Your brand will affect (and be affected by):
Your business practice
How does your business operate? How do customers buy the product or engage with the service you provide? Do your brand and its promises ring true within the practical processes of dealing with your company, as experienced by your customers?
Your business direction
Without the sense of purpose a brand gives you, how do you know if the direction you’re heading in is the right one for your business, or if the decisions you’re making are in keeping with the ideals of your business and customers? The decisions you make and the directions you choose can reinforce or completely undermine what your company stands for.
Nike’s co-founder, Philip Knight, once put it like this: “We wanted Nike to be the world’s best sports and fitness company. Once you say that, you have a focus. You don’t end up making wing tips or sponsoring the next Rolling Stones world tour.”
Your business growth
Every business needs to innovate its approach, products and services to grow. But a brand provides the DNA for that growth, rather than inhibiting it. Your brand is the seed that grows the plant of your growing business. The plant may have different aspects to it – like products and services that change with the times. But they’re still underpinned by the DNA in that seed that is your brand. Your core values will always be visible, as will the consistent customer experience you provide. Growth without a brand in mind can see your customers desert you in their droves.
Your customer base
Your brand is the focus that keeps you building a solid, loyal customer base. Because when you consider your brand in everything you do, you’re essentially asking yourself the question: “How will this product [or service] impact on our customers’ lives? How will it make them feel differently than competitor products on the market?” These considerations are fundamental to the success of your business, which is why branding must be considered from the word go.
Your logo and marketing materials
If your website, stationery, etc. exude and reinforce your values, your brand will be strengthened. But if they don’t, your brand – and your business – could be seriously damaged. For example, your product could genuinely be of a high quality. You may have sourced the very best components available. But if you’ve got a naff, clip-art logo and poor quality stationery, that undermine your promises of quality, you’re fighting a losing battle with customers. You can tell them your product is superior until you’re blue in the face. If they do not see that message reflected consistently in every area of your business, they’ll head to a supplier they’re more sure of instead.
Your business reputation
Your brand gives you the ability to stand out from the crowd, particularly in competitive markets. How well you deliver on your brand promises and strengthen your brand through every area of your business can help make or break your business reputation. And there are few things more valuable to both maintaining existing customers and attracting new ones than a good, solid reputation.
Your customer communications
Every possible contact your business has with a new or existing customer should enforce your brand values. That doesn’t mean you need to be shoving what you stand for down your customers’ throats every time you answer the phone. It just means the way you interact with customers should be thought through and in keeping with your vision and purpose.