THUNDER BAY – ENTREPRENEUR CENTRE – A strong brand is one of the most valuable assets to a company. It is also one of the most fragile. Businesses that consistently offer value and come through for their brands are more profitable than their competitors who under-deliver.
The Thunder Bay & District Entrepreneur Centre (EC) is a non-profit small business support organization that provides FREE and confidential services to new, existing, and aspiring entrepreneurs. It also provides free workshops and seminars to help small businesses learn about important topics, such as branding, to empower them to perform the best they can. To view upcoming workshops and to learn about the resources available to you, visit www.EntrepreneurCentre.ca.
What is a brand?
The answer is not as complicated as you think.
Local marketing agencies work with businesses to creatively develop and execute their brand ideals. Graham Double, Brand Guru at Modo* design strategy firm, provides an uncomplicated definition: “In the simplest terms, a brand is a gut feeling. The feeling you get when you leave a place of business – that’s their brand.”
Stemming from the marking of cattle, the current meaning of branding is radically different from its traditional origins. More than slapping your name on a product, branding has evolved into a customer experience based concept that encompasses multiple components – customer interactions, employee communications, corporate philosophy, as well as advertising and marketing.
Graham explains, “A brand is not a logo or an identity, it is the real things that you do that people want to pay money for. For example, Dove doesn’t just sell soap; they’re selling real beauty, and their brand is about making women feel better about themselves in a world where they are bombarded by artificial and unattainable figures.”
When held at the heart of a business, a brand will outperform the competition by driving strategy, providing directional guidance and clarifying a company’s goals and objectives. Focusing on your brand will also help to understand the opinions, needs, and wants of your customers, define corporate values, and design a distinctive visual presence. In terms of your marketing strategy, a great brand will confirm the credibility of your business, motivate people to buy, and concrete user loyalty.
Firms like Modo* will take an outside-looking-in approach to identify a company’s market and their message, fusing business with creativity to establish differentiation (the key to marketing) and influence that gut feeling. Ryan Novak, Creative Genius at Modo*, explains that, “Most of the time, a business will already have a brand, and our job is to take what they’ve grown organically and communicate it.”
After a brand ideal, platform, and identity are developed, businesses need to take the brand and seep it in, integrating it across all channels from the letterhead and stationary all the way down to the social media, web and print media, as well as the experiential components, such as customer relations. Businesses must live up to their brand promise, that is, not only deliver quality products and services, but bring value to consumers and their experience.
Ryan clarifies, “Delivering on your brand promise can mean anything from the way your staff greet customers to implementing new technology that simplifies the buying process. In the case of Dove, they focus on products that help make women feel beautiful, but they also head initiatives that improve women’s self-esteem, and even some of their advertising efforts aim to bring more awareness to women and self-esteem issues.”
Going forward, the standard by which brands are measured will become higher. Consumers will come to expect more from brands and be less forgiving to those who don’t deliver on their brand promise. Brand-guided businesses who do well by their brands experience an average of 28% higher return.
Want to know more? Modo* will be delivering a free branding workshop on September 29th at the Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre! For details on this and other upcoming seminars, check out the Entrepreneur Centre’s free workshop series happening this fall.
The Thunder Bay & District Entrepreneur Centre (EC) is one of 56 Small Business Enterprise Centres in Ontario dedicated to helping small businesses get started, expand, and succeed. Their one-to-one business counselling, comprehensive information, consulting, and referral service make them a great first stop if you’re starting a business or even thinking of starting a business. The Entrepreneur Centre (EC) can assist you to write a business plan, secure funding, and access other available resources. They also have youth programs specifically for young entrepreneurs. All Entrepreneur Centre (EC) services are FREE and confidential. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (807)625-3960 or visit www.EntrepreneurCentre.ca.