To understand the power of branding, stand in front of the canned pea section in any supermarket. You will be faced with an array of products from a multitude of competing brands.
Chances are, your eyes will be drawn to a product which is familiar to you. You may recognise the colours and logo through a media marketing campaign — a connection has been formed which is not easily ignored. The subtle trigger which makes you reach for that can over all the others can be simply down to effective branding — a consistent market presence which differentiated it from the competition.
Branding not only applies to products — it goes further into the company and across all industries. In particular, customer-facing businesses rely on the image they project. Branding for hospitality, retail, and service providers aim to build a brand which will move customers to consciously or subconsciously choose their establishment over the competition.
Familiarity Breeds Content
So what exactly is branding versus marketing? Simply put, branding is who you are as a business and marketing is strategies to communicate and promote that message.
Branding is an intrinsic factor in developing trust and building lasting customer relationships which can overcome factors like cost, convenience and even common sense.
How is that achieved? Lasting visual impact created using vivid logos, colours, uniforms, consistent graphics in signage and advertising, stylised interiors and staff attitudes. It also involves fostering a positive brand culture which involves policies, practices and ethics.
As an example of the power of superior branding, when Kraft took over Cadbury in 2011, it was not the chocolate recipe, the staff or the physical buildings which brought in around $19.5 billion dollars, but the potency of a dominant brand image.
In the case of Cadbury, the brand had an emotional tie with generations of consumers. The colour, logo and graphics are instantly recognisable, trusted and form part of our shared history.
Consumers are often suspicious and wary of the unknown. Creating an image of trust, community values and exceptional service backed up by memorable graphics, colours and marketing can form a powerful trigger.
Building Customer Loyalty
Part of the process in evolving into a solid brand involves not only the products you sell but your staff, mission and commitment to quality. But how much exactly do these motivate customers and encourage return business?
According to a study carried out in the U.S. around the influence of staff demeanour on customer perceptions, the core traits used by effectual staff are:
- Eye contact
- Speaking enthusiastically
- Engaging with the customer
The study went on to show the intensity and authenticity of these interactions between staff members and customers were crucial factors in customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Creating invested staff is often easier said than done and requires the implementation of committed management. Strategies which have proven effective are:
- Recognising effort through a combination of praise and monetary reward
- Inspiring through example
- Working as a team toward a goal
- Communicating positively, avoiding blame
- Training and fostering growth and advancement
- Gradually increasing responsibility and encouraging accountability
Building a business ethos around charitable works and community consciousness can give customers the feeling they are contributing to the greater good.
By creating positive content through digital channels such as Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram you are able to raise awareness of social issues and keep customers informed of your business’s philanthropic activities.
A recognisable, positive brand image is currency for both now and in the future. It carries a dollar value which can’t be reproduced or imitated. When it comes to selling a business with an instantly recognisable and respected name, a solid brand becomes a bankable asset – just ask Cadbury…
Piece of the Puzzle
Branding can be the strongest tool in a marketing arsenal. In any customer-facing environment this can translate to building a unique essence through:
- Colours and logos
Implementing a multi-faceted campaign can back up other traditional and digital marketing strategies; for instance social media campaigns, paid search campaigns, as well as print and media advertising.
A strong brand will give your business a personality. What every business desires is the customers will fall in love with the personality they portray. By building an attractive instantly recognisable brand which people identify with quality and service, you are well on your way to securing the affections, attentions and fidelity of your customers.