Design Factsheets

A good, recognisable brand is a valuable asset for all sizes of business. It can enable you to differentiate your business from your competitors, developing a stronger relationship with customers, command a higher price, and provide an excellent platform on which to introduce new products.

This brief includes:

What is a brand?

Like the brands used on cattle to establish ownership in the Wild West, ideally you would like to burn the image of your company or product into the customer’s mind!

But branding can be much more than identity. It can come to represent the image of your company or product, shape how customers perceive it, and communicate its personality.

Brands and customers

When customers make their purchasing decision they are, consciously or unconsciously, weighing up the product and its price and how they ‘feel’ about the company who supplies it. In markets where suppliers or products are essentially similar, the brand represents an intangible, and often emotional, element of the purchasing decision. In these markets, the emotional element of the purchase may be the deciding factor. Through your brands you can build a closer, and more loyal relationship with your customers. For these reasons, brands can become a valuable asset to the business. So much so that leading companies are beginning to show the value of brands on the balance sheet. Branding can therefore be a great benefit to all sizes of company.

A brand should make a statement about the quality of the product, that is, what customers can expect in terms of reliability and style, and how it differs from other firm’s products. In being different, you must ensure that the values you wish to attach to your brand are also important to the customer, and that they will identify it as ‘their kind of company/product’. In this way you can also point your company or product brand at a particular group of customers that you wish to target, and who place a high value on particular aspects such as quality, reliability, customer service, innovation, or price.

Branding adds value to your company or product in the customer’s mind through a combination of the name, image, colours, logo, and packaging and must be consistent and constantly reinforced whenever you communicate with customers.

Although branding has traditionally been most used in consumer markets where there are often many similar suppliers, it can also be useful in business-to-business markets, particularly where customers are also faced with a variety of similar offerings. Recent research has also indicated that consumers and businesses are more likely to buy from established brands on the Internet because of the level of trust that already exists through the brand.

What benefits can branding offer my business?

A brand can offer your business a number of benefits. Developing a brand can help you to:

  • differentiate your product from those of your competitors, and makes it more difficult for them to compete for your customers
  • introduce new products or services more quickly because of the relationship and trust your customers already feel towards your brand
  • attract a higher price because your brand is perceived to represent particular values that are important to the customer
  • communicate with your customers using consistent messages, therefore improving their effectiveness
  • give some degree of legal protection
  • build a positive image of your business.

What benefits might it offer my customers?

In addition to the benefits it offers your company, branding benefits your customers.

  • Convenience: it helps them to identify your products quickly as ones that they can trust.
  • Reassurance: it reassures them about making their purchase and removes uncertainty.
  • Time-saving: it saves them time when shopping because they spend less time deliberating

What can I do now?

Creating, developing, and maintaining a brand is a long-term process and can be extremely costly. However, building a brand is also investing in an asset for your business that has long-term value.

But first impressions count. It is difficult and costly to re-launch a brand if you get it wrong. The process is sufficiently important for you to want to get it right first time.

It is therefore well worth consulting an expert to provide professional guidance through those critical early stages and carefully consider the following issues before you start investing.

  • What resources do you have available to invest in the brand? Are they going to be sufficient to communicate and sustain it in your market?
  • Are you confident that the benefits of developing the brand justify the investment in its development?
  • Research needs to be carried out to ensure that the name, image, logo, colours, packaging and planned promotion communicate the ‘values’ that your customers are seeking.
  • A ‘brand champion’ should be responsible for the protection of the brand once it has been decided upon. Their role will be to ensure consistency, and to develop a manual of instructions about use of image, logo, etc.
  • The brand should fit the overall marketing objectives of the business.

Branding: at a glance

  • Companies and products need names or symbols by which customers can identify them quickly and easily.
  • Branding adds value to your company or product in the customer’s mind through a combination of the name, image, colours, logo, and packaging.
  • To be most effective, a brand must be consistent and constantly reinforced whenever you communicate with customers.
  • Benefits include differentiating you from your competitors, developing a closer relationship with customers, changing a higher price, and a platform on which to introduce new products.
  • Successful branding requires a long-term commitment and investment, but creates an asset with sustainable value.
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