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Branding is the soul of marketing strategy

Consistent and innovative branding efforts will not only augment sales but also help define how the company is perceived

A well-known management professional once said that the investment one ploughs into a brand makes it worth its name. This assertion has two very striking elements: investment and brand.

In an age where there are a plethora of brands available for consumption, for an entrepreneur it is important to invest in one’s brand to differentiate it from others. Investments in marketing and communication hence become crucial. Entrepreneurs need to make the end consumer aware of their offerings and how different it is from others.

In my opinion, branding should be as much a priority as any other function. Arguably, branding is the soul of one’s marketing strategy. Consistent branding efforts will not only augment sales but also help define how the company is perceived. Also, these days, consumers have gotten brand conscious and prefer to buy a recognised brand. This further accentuates the need for branding, marketing and visibility building.

Branding and small businesses

For many large conglomerates, branding is a cost-intensive affair, with a highly specialised workforce driving effective branding techniques. For smaller businesses, however, the challenge is in coming up with brand building initiatives within the limited resources, be it workforce or budget. This is why micro, small and medium enterprises do not focus heavily on branding exercises.

But, small and medium businesses should know that it is crucial to build a strong brand. No matter how great your product or service may be, if it is not backed by a well-conceived brand, there are chances that the business may either remain stagnant or drop. Stagnancy, although denotes a static pace, is as dangerous as decline.

To address this, a focussed marketing plan with more below-the-line and digital marketing, including customer loyalty programmes, works the best. Entrepreneurs should constantly strive towards building a strong brand identity that enables consumers to identify with the enterprise.

Resource crunch

The biggest challenge many entrepreneurs face is a lack of resources, which includes people, budget and time. Given that, maintaining a consistent plan and timely execution can be a cumbersome task.

I can share my own example here. With 76 stores in 37 cities, we realised that it is impossible to focus on all the stores at a time. In retail, there are a few aspects that can be understood only when we are present at the store or understand the local audience. This proved to be a hurdle for our small team.

It takes a lot of money and effort to outsource marketing activities in multiple cities. Small business owners struggle to grow given the restrictions of a small team, limited budget and a lack of time. It is difficult to meet the demand when one is unable to increase the staff strength. This, in turn, brings about challenges in increasing visibility and generating quality leads.

The right target

Regardless of the business one is in, entrepreneurs should always start by knowing their target audiences and lay emphasis on determining the preferences of the target audience. Ask oneself: who is the customer and what is it that the enterprise is catering to? The answers are the important foundation blocks to an effective brand-building strategy. Another important aspect to consider will be to outline the key qualities and benefits one’s brand offers. There will always be big brands with big budgets. One has to dive down deep and figure out what is it that one offers that no one else is offering. Always focus on the quality and benefits that a consumer can have after using the product.

Entrepreneurs often are hasty while creating a brand logo and tagline. This is the most important part of the brand-building process. This logo will be your identity, calling card and the visual cue to the consumers. Building a brand message is equally important too. A brand message is an opportunity to make a direct emotional connection with one’s consumers. A brand message should always inform customers about the product, why it is important to a customer and its benefits.

Customers do not look for another company which offers the same thing as every other company does. Customers look for a new product that can satisfy their needs in a better way. Make the brand stand out in every aspect. Integrate the brand into every aspect of the business. The brand should be reflected in everything the customer can see.

Go digital

A good website, most successful businesses know, is the secret for converting prospective leads into sales. A website plays a vital role in the sales. When done well, it is an asset that will build a strong customer base. One should always think from the point of customer when developing a website. This approach will let customers connect better. This, in turn, will generate more leads and sales.

Many entrepreneurs struggle when it comes to choosing the right social media platforms. However, investing time and building a team to effectively manage the platforms are important. Social media is the cheapest and the most effective model for generating leads. Creating posts on Facebook and YouTube will cost one nothing. The right media platform can also generate customer leads.

Entrepreneurs also struggle with the consistent execution of marketing activities. A great marketing plan will ensure a consistent message throughout. Also, the content should connect with customers. It can improve the search engine visibility and build credibility. Many small businesses understand the importance of content marketing, yet fail to realise its potential as a strategy for growth.

Another challenge is in keeping up with the trends and ever changing technology. Identifying a team that can be trusted with the outsourced marketing activities is a huge hurdle that the company has to cross. With a right team one can expect best results possible. The challenge is in finding a team that acts like a partner and shares the same common vision as the entrepreneur.

Branding is a strategy

To make the most of the branding initiatives, entrepreneurs can try several ways to engage with customers. In my experience, promotions and roadshows help in achieving more sales as well in creating brand awareness. Tie-ups and cross promotions with other brands can also help a lot. A well-designed website with product and brand information can create awareness among customers. It is essential to construct credibility around the brand name. Entrepreneurs should know that the more they focus on digital marketing, the more they are able to reach out to their audiences. It could be cost effective too. One may need to create a compelling content strategy that speaks louder than that of the competitors.

Lastly, engage with other entrepreneurs through peer-to-peer networks. One can learn a lot from other success stories. It takes a lot of innovation to create a successful and sustainable business practice. Brand building can be one of the most significant things one can do for a new or existing business. A marketing strategy based on the needs of the target market will attract more customers. It also will increase the visibility of one’s brand and give one a chance to become a go-to authority in the chosen field.

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