Keeping your brand fit for purpose should always be a priority. Here are six key principles to help make sure you stay on top of things:
1. YOUR BRAND IS NOT YOUR LOGO
Most people associate branding with logos and start there. Please don’t do this. Your logo might be your most visible asset but is only one small part of your brand. Focusing on it will tempt you to spend money either before you need to or on doing the wrong thing. Only change your logo if there is a compelling business reason to do it. (see When to Re-Brand)
2. ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN
Most SME brand exercises that fail do so because they’re not backed up by a simple plan with clear business objectives. You need to know why you are doing the exercise and what you need to achieve – your key message, your target audience, revenue objectives. Don’t let your brand exercise be a vanity project with a pretty logo and nothing else. It will be a waste of valuable time and resources.
3. IDENTIFY YOUR POSITIONING
Positioning is the cornerstone of brand strategy. Once you’ve got your plan, work out where you need to be in order to deliver it. Where are you positioned, who are you positioned for and why, where are your competitors? Make sure that it’s built around actual and defendable attributes and, critically, is relevant to your customers and prospects.
4. DEFINE YOUR PROPOSITION
Your proposition explains your positioning and your benefits to your target audiences. It links your brand to your business strategy by explaining it to your target audience in a compelling and relevant manner. Your proposition drives your sales and marketing and answers the most important question of all: ‘Why should I buy you?’
5. KEEP IT SIMPLE
Far too many SMEs waste budget on over-complicated marketing with too many messages using too many words across too many formats and channels. It’s wasteful and ineffective. If you’ve planned properly, identified your positioning and defined your proposition, you will be able to communicate it quickly and cost-effectively. Less is more.
6. ENGAGE YOUR AUDIENCE
Many SMEs get lost in the detail of their brand and over-think it. It leads to over-sincere and earnest messaging and behaviour that turns off their audience. Remember, your clients and prospects are humans, just like you. They’re going to remember brands that are interesting and engaging and make them feel good. It might be the least business-like recommendation of all, but – and I can’t stress this enough - if people don’t like you, they’re not going to buy you, so lighten up, be nice, personable and a pleasure to be with.