Many businesses assume that a brand is an image, or more simply a logo.
That is only one part of it. The most important thing to remember is this: a brand is a promise. A brand is used to set customer expectations. When a customer buys a product or service, they count on these expectations being met.
Components of a brand promise are based on:
Consistency of experience
This is a critical component in building a brand. Take the McDonald’s example – no matter where a customer goes, they expect the product to look and taste the same. For a small business that can be a challenge. Start with something easy.
This may begin by answering the telephone in a consistent way. From this point, move on to standardising some of the business and operational processes.
At the most basic level, a strong brand image is required to build a strong brand. Consistent look-and-feel extends to logos, colours, typefaces, décor and employee clothing.
Even a professional services company, such as a law firm or architect, should make sure their brochures, business cards, website, stationery, etc., all have a consistent look-and-feel.
It is not sufficient to deliver a consistent experience to a customer; the experience must also be of a certain level of quality. McDonald’s french fries do not have to be the best French fries in the world, but they have to be good french fries, and they have to be fresh every time, anywhere they are purchased.
A brand must stand for something and distinguish a business from the competition. These primary benefits make it easy for a consumer to choose the brand that suits them.
The easiest and simplest way for a small company to develop this distinct brand position is to focus on a niche or specialised market so that there are fewer competitors. Small businesses often ignore this and attempt to cover the whole market by being everything to everyone.
Remember, a brand is a promise not just an image. When a promise is made to a customer and kept, they will keep coming back.