Brands & Brand Image
You might think that your brand is the name of your company and your brand image is your logo - like the Nike logo, or the Disney logo, or any other famous logo. But in truth your brand is your company’s identity, its attributes and benefits; its values and even its personality. Your brand image is what and how you ﷯communicate that brand to everyone else. It’s everything you (and all others associated with your company) do or say that creates an impression or perception about your company. Your brand is your company's character. Your brand image is how that character is perceived by everyone outside of your organization. It’s how your phone is answered, the quality of your customer service, how your trucks look, how your web site looks, how your employees are dressed while on the job, and even your choice of on-hold music. In essence, it’s a promise to your customers and potential customers of what they can expect. Your brand image should communicate the difference between you and your competitors – your reason for being. Your brand image should reinforce your corporate message and vision so your company stands out in a crowd of look-a-likes. Why spend money creating a brand image? The truth is you don't have to spend a dime creating a brand image! Brand image is something you have whether you try to create one or not. Brand image is what the public sees; it is the image they have of you – good or bad. If you're in business today, you already have a brand image. Most of your customers and some of your prospects already have an impression of your company based on everything you've done so far. The question is: is the brand image you have the brand image you want? Is it an image that will lead to continued success and prosperity? Building your brand image The first thing you need to do is to identify and define your company’s brand. Talk this over with your staff. Here are some questions and suggestions that can help: Identifying your brand 1. Why are you in business? 2. What makes your business unique? What can customers get from you they can't get elsewhere? Price? Quality? Service? Guarantee? Product? 3. Is there something about your service your customers actually enjoy paying you money to do? What are those qualities / services? Find out what your customers say about you and not what you think they would say. 4. What part of your business are you passionate about? Can you formulate that passion into one sentence? Is this something your customers will appreciate and want to pay for? 5. Discuss the identity of your brand with your employees. What is their perception of the company they work for? 6. What is your target market? Customer profile? Prospect demographic? 7. What do your customers want to buy from you and what offer will compel them to do so? 8. In a sentence, what is your company's promise to its customers? To its employees? Defining Your Brand Image A brand image should be positive. It should reflect the character of your company. If you are the owner, it should look like you, feel like you, and smell like you. It should be a reflection of your best traits. It’s your company, how do you want it to be seen by the public? What do you want them to think of when they see your company name or logo? Write these answers down and that is the brand image you want to build. Brand image elements Now that you have identified your brand and defined what you want your image to be, you can begin building your brand image one element at a time. Three elements to start with are logo, slogan, and image identifier. 1. Logo – is it distinctive; does it imply professionalism? 2. Are you comfortable with your logo? 3. Does your logo reflect your company's image? 4. Slogan – do you have a phrase that defines your business? (i.e. Geico – 15 minutes or less can save you…; Red Bull – Red Bull gives you wings; Budweiser – This Bud’s for you) 5. Are you using an image identifier that supports your core concepts? (This could be a particular photo, an animated character, a talking blade of grass, a Clydesdale, a gecko, a celebrity, etc.) 6. Are you using your logo, slogan, and image identifier throughout all business elements? Letterheads / envelopes / business cards Brochures / estimate forms / folders Advertising media Truck signage Web site Every single piece of communication to customers and prospects 7. Is your company image distinctive or does it look the same as most of your local competition? 8. Do your employees reflect the image you are trying to communicate? Do you have a real live person answering the phone? Are they friendly? Are your lawn and landscape technicians dressed in professional uniforms that identify your company? (Blue jeans and a muscle shirt are not professional attire.) Are they knowledgeable? Are they friendly? Implementation and Follow-up Now that you, with the help of your staff, have identified your brand, chosen how you want that brand portrayed, and developed some brand image elements to communicate that brand image, you need to implement the development of that brand image and follow-up to make sure that it is consistent. 1. Review all of your customer or prospect communication and advertising materials to make sure they include all of the brand image elements you’ve developed. 2. Make sure that all vehicles, equipment, uniforms, and signage also include those elements where practical and reflect the brand you are trying to portray. 3. Review all digital media to make sure they reflect your company’s brand and contain your brand image elements. 4. Educate your staff as to what you want your brand and brand image to be and how important it is to the company’s and their success. 5. Have follow-up discussions on how effective the implementation has been. 6. Visit your technicians while they are on the job to see how your brand looks and acts on the job. 7. Call, or have someone call your office to see how inquiries, questions, and complaints are handled. 8. Seek areas for improvement. What does branding do for you? Your first goal is to create brand awareness and recognition. If someone is at least aware of your brand, you have a better chance of getting them as a customer than those competitors they’ve never heard of. Over time, a strong brand creates a preference to purchase and an inclination to continue purchasing (brand loyalty). Customers will be inclined to stay with you despite some minor hiccup or some serious competitor price gouging because the brand you have built is one they trust. Once you have built up enough brand loyalty, you have brand equity where your brand alone has value. That trust, that brand loyalty, is like money in the bank.

Did You Know?

 

 

The Nike logo was purchased for $35 in 1971 from Portland State University graphic design student, Carolyn Davidson.

 

According to Davidson, Phil Knight, company founder, said at the time: “I don't love it, but it will grow on me."

 

The Nike swoosh has undergone very few modifications. Today the famous swoosh is synonymous with quality sports gear.