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Invest in defining your brand or have potential customers snatched away

In today’s highly competitive, digitally-powered marketplace, the temptation for any business can be to "get out there" with a splurge of marketing activity to build profile and presence. But one of the most important things to do is step back and try defining your brand.
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If you’re a young business, defining your brand is one of the first things to do. But if you’re a more established concern, it is also a highly worthwhile exercise to stand back and review whether all of your activities are in line with what your brand is supposed to be about.

Your brand is a bridge

Why is it so important? Your brand is a bridge that connects your business to customers both existing and potential. It’s what you represent, it’s a combination of values and culture and behaviours, that together communicate to your customers what you are about. It’s in the look and feel of your business too – your logo, your strapline, your website, product and packaging design.

Brand encompasses a multitude of things but in the end it comes down to something quite simple about how customers view you and the kind of organisation you are. And having a brand that differentiates from other businesses is becoming more important as markets become increasingly competitive and use channels to reach customers proliferate in the digital age.

Defining your brand means taking the time to think about:

– What does your brand believe in, what are your values?
– What is your brand mission in the wider world? What do you want the brand to do?
– What is the future vision for the business? Where do you want it to be in five, ten, 20 years?

A filter for decision-making

If you get this process right, a tightly defined brand becomes a filter for decision-making within the business. It will also help define the culture of the business. It’s as powerful internally as it is externally as it really gives your people something to rally behind.

Driving marketing efficiency

Defining your brand also drives marketing efficiency because the focus shifts to planning how you can use the plethora of channels available rather than being distracted by what you want to say.

This is important when every penny of marketing spend needs to contribute a return. There is great disparity in the amount that businesses spend on their marketing. As a percentage of gross revenue, figures vary from just one or two per cent of turnover for established small businesses with few competitors, to upwards of 30 per cent for start-ups or major brands looking to get ahead of their competitors or establish a challenger brand status.

But no matter what the size of the spend, it has to be effective and being crystal clear on your brand is the starting point to achieving this. Don’t underestimate the exponential effect that engaging creative expression of your brand can have on the performance of your communications.

Tell the story

As if all of this wasn’t enough, a strong brand contributes to commercial success too. Look at any list of brands and as well as being well-known or trusted or recognisable, the odds are they will usually be highly profitable too.

There is no room for me-too, look-alike businesses today. Work out what it is that makes you special and create a brand that tells your story to the world.

Mike Rose is board director of The Mission Marketing Group and MD of Chapter

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Real Business

As the champion of UK enterprise for 20 years, Real Business is the most-read SME website dedicated to high-growth businesses and entrepreneurs. Through daily news, unique insight and invaluable guides we are an essential resource for thriving businesses.

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