Why brand is at the heart of communications!
As a strategic communications agency, www.fiveinaboat.com is very focused on taking our clients to the next stage of their growth – be that raising their profile ahead of a funding round, launching their first commercial product or getting them on the radar of key influencers who, up until that point, have been unaware of their existence. While this is all important work, one of the biggest pieces of advice we give both prospective and existing businesses is to understand their brand, what it means, how it should be positioned and how they want others to both perceive and experience it BEFORE all other activity kicks off. This is why companies, especially those in the start-up space, should care about brand from the very beginning. I once worked for a company which wasn’t on the radar of most potential customers and was losing a considerable number of subscribers to the competition. When I asked its management team what it stood for, they each gave me a different answer. My response: ‘How can you expect others to know who you are if you don’t?’
So here are my insights into why brand from the start is a must, not a nice to have, but an essential…
1. Establishing your position: a company’s brand is a reflection of its values and its beliefs, of its culture and its personality. The brand is its identity. Yes, it is essential that you have a marketable product, something that can generate revenue and drive customer acquisition, but people want to know what is behind the product. If you don’t you know who you are, what you believe in and what you stand for, how can you expect others to? Work this out at the start. Evolving it is fine, ignoring it is not!
2. The competitive edge: more so than ever, consumers are being bombarded with marketing and new technology / products. According to Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, each year more than 30,000 new consumer products are launched and 80% of them fail – competition is tough, and the global market is getting bigger by the day. So, what is it that you are doing differently or better? How are you going to get consumers to sit up and take note? If you don’t have a brand yet or have put it on the back burner, how will people know where to come? Getting on their radar is key.
3. Being clear and staying focused: it is very easy as a small business to try many different routes before one succeeds, or to try to be everything to all. It’s also easy for a big business to throw money around to see what sticks. In both instances, this approach takes you away from your original goals. Developing a clear brand strategy from the start enables you to remain focused on your vision and mission which will save you from a lot of potential pain and expense in the long run.
4. Engaging and connecting with others: are you funny, informative or relaxed in your communications? Do loud colours represent your personality, or do more subtle tones suit you better? Or do you believe that all of this will come later down the line when your product is more established? Emotional engagement is one of the biggest things that people look for when considering a brand. Does that brand care about me? Can I relate to it? If you truly want potential customers to engage with you, to remember you, which will build awareness and ultimately loyalty, then working out what you stand for needs to be a priority from the outset.
5. It’s not just about the people on the outside, it’s also about the people on the inside: don’t underestimate what the power of a clear brand can do for employees and the impact that it will have on their work. If your team feel strongly about and understand your vision and values, they will take pride in what they do and will end up becoming your biggest advocates.
If you as a business owner can identify with any of the above, then it is worth working out how you can begin establishing your brand. Auditing stakeholders about what you stand for is a great first step. Once you have done that you can then think about how to create that all important brand guide that will set you on that path to success and recognition. Or you can just ping us at www.fiveinaboat.com, and we can do it for you.