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Category: ENTREPRENEURSHIP, Marketing and Advertising


Managing your small business brand
Written by Tendai Tambudze
30 November 2012

Brand management is not something that only big corporates need to worry about. Whether your market is world-wide or restricted to a small local community, a strong brand can differentiate a business and help it to stand out from competitors. With all the financial, strategic and operational planning that goes into establishing a business, the company’s brand can be the last thing on an entrepreneur’s mind.  The process of creating a brand should not be an afterthought. Brands are all about perception and the public’s perception of the company will often determine the company’s success or failure. With this in mind, we look at how to establish and manage a brand for a small business.

  

The first question to answer is what a brand really is. A brand is what sets a business apart from other businesses. It is more than a logo, name or tagline. One definition of brand management states that:

“A brand is a promise that the product will perform as per the customer’s expectations. It shapes customer’s expectations about the product. A strong brand is a means of making people aware of what the company represents and what its offerings are.”

Big corporates hire experienced brand managers and channel large amounts of money to create the right perceptions about the company. In the case of many SMEs the important task of carrying the brand falls on the owner’s shoulders and people listen to what the owner is saying about his/her business. This essentially means the business owner never stop talking about how amazing the business is – all day, every day.  The business owner should be oozing passion and excitement. A bran manager never says anything bad about their company, products or service. A brand manager believes he works for the best company in the world, providing the best service and products.  It does not matter what anyone says - it’s ok to blow your own horn. When it comes to a business – it is crucial.


Forming a brand identity

The most important thing to decide from the start is: who do you want to be? After that the next question is: what do you want to be known for?

Identify a unique offering and start communicating it. Give your business a personality. Some brands are synonymous with superior quality; some are all about the cheapest prices and others promise a memorable experience. There is no template for developing a brand because this depends on the industry and competitors.

The logo, name and tagline form a part of the brand identity and some companies are instantly recognizable by their colours, symbols or textures. This is not to be confused with a corporate identity which only focuses on the visual aspects of a company’s existence. The brand identity encapsulates the total proposition the company is offering and the corporate identity should communicate this.


Communicating the brand

Other ways of communicating the brand is to directly tell your customers who you are. With social media, this has never been easier. It is now simple to use various social media platforms to share relevant content and invite dialogue with your customers. It studies have shown that most businesses are still trying to figure out how to be effective on social media platforms.

If the budget allows, solicit advice from professionals on how to best communicate the brand.

The biggest rule doing this effectively is to always be consistent.  And remember that attention to detail is important - the message that you want to send about your business should come across in everything. Perception is created in people’s minds from every little thing including the décor, the service, attitudes and every single interaction customers have with the business.


Managing your brand

When a business fails to deliver what it has promised, people can leave with a negative perception and lose faith in the brand. It is your responsibility to ensure that bad perceptions never stick. Guard your brand’s reputation fiercely. People should know that what happened is unusual and unacceptable.  When this happens, make sure that everyone understands that it is not who you are and take steps that shown them who you really are. 

 


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