Branding for SME’s

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At Derby Hub our ethos is to share business excellence and our members' presentations are no exception. Each week, we ask one of our members to share knowledge and advice about their industry. Presentations must be useful and not sell to the room. This ensures members get the most out of their membership and gain a good insight to that members’ world.

Last week's presentation was by: Craig Barker, owner of Derby based creative company company Baseline.

Shift Perception - An introduction to branding for SME’s - by Baseline

This is an introduction into branding, some things you may have thought of, but some you may not...

Definition of branding: The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates an organisation / product from other organisations / products.

A company’s brand identity is communicated using some of the following tools:

  • Name
  • Logo
  • Colour scheme
  • Words
  • Images
  • Etc

Other important considerations - people, you, your staff...

Your personal brand is very important when engaging in ‘people based’ communication activities. On the phone, face to face, written....

Your personal brand directly reflects on how people perceive your business. In a nut shell, if you want people to have a certain impression of your business you need to put this across in everything you do.

Every communication that you or your business makes says something about you and your business. For example, when you are not there, your business card and website tell people everything they need to know about you and your business. The question is do they tell your potential customers what you want them to?

Step 1 - Planning

Decide who your target market is and what message you want to communicate to them. What do you want them to assume about your business?

Affordable, high quality, approachable.... make your own list...

Ideally you should have a marketing strategy from a trusted marketing expert.

This will help you to understand your message and your target market, then everything else that you create must keep this in mind.

Step 2 - Review

Have a look at your business with fresh eyes, does it give the impression that you want it to?

  • Research your competitors, what do they do well and what do they do badly? Learn from that.
  • Ask other peoples opinions and get them to be brutally honest, speak to your target market.
  • What do they assume about your brand?
  • Is it modern or traditional, cheap or expensive?
  • Do the colours appeal to your target market?
  • Are the words right?
  • Most importantly, is it memorable?

Just because you like something, it doesn’t mean it is right for your business.

Step 3 - Business Branding

Below you will find 10 tips for creating or improving your brand:

  1. Research and plan. Know that you are doing things for a reason.
  2. Get a great logo. Place it everywhere.
  3. Write down your brand messaging. What are the key messages you want to communicate about your brand? Every employee should be aware of your brand attributes.
  4. Integrate your brand. Branding extends to every aspect of your business: How you answer your phones, what you or your representatives wear to meetings, your e-mail signature, everything.
  5. Create a "voice" for your company that reflects your brand. This voice should be applied to all written communication and incorporated in the visual imagery of all materials, online and off. Is your brand friendly? Be conversational. Is it corporate? Be more formal. Etc. If you are not good with written words, hire a professional, no point looking great if the content is poor.
  6. Develop a tagline. Write a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand. I always start with the marketing message, your target market and the list of things that you want people to assume about your business.
  7. Design templates and create brand standards for your marketing materials. Use the same color scheme, logo placement, look and feel throughout. You don't need to be fancy, just consistent.
  8. Be true to your brand. Customers won't return to you, or refer you to someone else, if you don't deliver on your brand promise. That includes the way you present yourself. Are you efficient, forgetful, always late? Time to change?
  9. Be consistent. This tip involves all the above and is the most important tip on this list. If you can't do this, your attempts at establishing a brand will fail.
  10. Get expert advice. Everyone needs to start somewhere, but there is no replacement for specialist qualified help.

To sum up

If you have done a great job and spent money, making sure your business appeals to the right people and get’s the right message across, do you let it down when you walk into a room?

Your business is classy, elegant, powerful, intelligent... When you walk into a room do you give off the same impression?

Every representation of your business says something about it whether it is your logo, your website, your written communication, your verbal communication or when you meet in person.

Start with a plan and then make sure every element of that plan is targeted towards achieving your business goals, including you.

If you need more advice in this area please, call Baseline on 01332 419803.

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Date Added: 03 May 2012

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