Brand marketing – how to build a strong brand

Brand marketing guidance tends to take its cues from the monster brands you recognise, explaining what you can learn from Apple and Uber. And it focuses on B2C brands (business-to-consumer) that you see in the high street and on TV.

That ignores most of the economy which sits with SMEs, companies with fewer than 500 staff. And most of the economy is B2B (business-to-business). This guide addresses those sectors.

The strategies employed by monster B2C brands can’t help SMEs. Your audiences are different. Your resources are different. Your priorities are different. If SMEs could learn from Apple, it would be from the Apple of 1979, not 2019.

Step One in any SME’s brand journey is hard: an acknowledgement that you have weak brand value.

Step Two is even harder: to redress the lack of brand value you should do… nothing.

We don’t actually mean nothing at all. We mean no ‘pure’ brand marketing. To improve your brand, you should focus on your:

  1. Products/Services.
  2. Customer Care.
  3. Processes.
  4. Visual consistency.

This guide will take you through that process.

Contents

  1. What is brand?
  2. What is brand democracy?
  3. What is brand value?
  4. What is brand awareness?
  5. What are brand attributes?
  6. What is brand purpose?
  7. How do you create a strong brand?
  8. The importance of brand authenticity.
  9. Can SMEs promote an aspirational brand?
  10. The limitations of brand power.
  11. What brand marketing should you do?
  12. What brand marketing shouldn’t you do?

 

What is brand marketing?

“Brand” is an abused term. We now use it instead of “company” as if the two are the same. When most directors talk about “building their brand” they’re usually talking about growing revenue.

There are four aspects to brand marketing. We’ll discuss each of them in this guide.

  • Brand Value or Equity
  • Brand Awareness
  • Brand Attributes
  • Brand Purpose

But first you need to understand brand democracy because it affects all four.

Brand marketing isn't as vapid as TV makes out

Who could watch Siobhan Sharpe on W1A without despairing of ‘brand’?

 

What is brand democracy?

Brand democracy is a term that means your brand is what the world says it is. It’s not what you say it is.
That’s an important concept. It has four implications:

  1. The best you can hope to do is to influence your brand; brand democracy means you don’t control it.
  2. Before you promote your brand, you need a survey to define it. It doesn’t have to be huge, slow and expensive, but it will tell you what your brand stands for. Brace yourself – the results could be unexpected.
  3. Any brand attribute you promote should be based on reality. SMEs don’t have the budget to promote a brand attribute that’s at odds with market opinion. If customers think you’re slow but cheap, you can’t promote yourself as fast and premium.
  4. If you’re not comfortable with the brand attributes the survey reveals, you need to fix your products/services and customer care. Brand marketing can’t fix or hide a genuine deficiency.

Brand democracy can be brutal since the advent of social media. Just ask Comcast, an early casualty back in 2007. When its engineer was filmed asleep on a customer’s couch, the video went viral. Brand democracy spoke out loud and clear and it didn’t say anything positive about Comcast.

 

What is brand value?

Brand value (or equity) indicates how powerfully your brand or reputation influences buying decisions. Your brand value can be expressed as three Xs:

  1. eXperience – how customers describe or rate their history of dealing with your businesses. This could cover the products/services themselves or the pre- and post-sales customer care they received. This could be gathered through metrics like NPS (Net Promoter Score) or through anecdotal feedback.
  2. eXpectation – how customers or prospects anticipate future dealings with your business will be.
  3. eXpression – how customers publicise their opinion of your businesses. This could be formal through written feedback on review sites or informal through comments to staff.

The three Xs reveal the secret to successful brand marketing for SMEs: good products/services at good prices with good customer care will generate a positive result for all 3 Xs. Concentrate your efforts in that direction.

For SME’s, that’s the core of brand marketing.

 

What is brand awareness?

Brand awareness is a measure of how many potential customers know about your presence in your market.

Awareness is not the same as value. You could have strong brand awareness but weak brand value. Ask Gerald Ratner.

Ratner built a massively successful jewellery business until he trashed it all in 1991 by describing some of its products as “total crap”. Ratners’ brand awareness soared as rapidly as its brand value crashed.

His experiences make Gerald Ratner something of a brand expert.

His experiences make Gerald Ratner something of a brand expert.

Brand awareness should be measured in your target markets. Would it matter if a golf club knows nothing about the local steel stock-holder? No, it’s not in that market.

You may need more than one measurement of brand awareness if you sell diverse product ranges. We worked for an engineering firm with siloed customers who only knew about the division they bought from. Their brand awareness could be described as strong but narrow.

The same can apply to firms that sell strongly into one market but not in others. RM always sold IT successfully into education but has a much weaker footprint in other sectors. By focusing almost exclusively on education it capitalises on its strong but narrow brand awareness.

 

What are brand attributes?

Brand attributes are the characteristics for which our companies or brands are known. Attributes can be positive or negative, for example:

  • Cheap.
  • Fast.
  • Expert.
  • Elitist.
  • Prestige.
  • Inefficient.
  • Industry Leader.
  • Understands my business.

It’s easy to identify brand attributes we want to apply to our businesses. Only a brand survey will reveal whether they actually do.

 

What is brand purpose?

A brand purpose can be described as an organisation’s contribution to its customers and the society beyond them.

They easily descend into statements promoting equality for all, global well-being and a sustainable future for the planet – goals that are far beyond the influence of the business that espouses them..

Brand purposes have become fashionable in some marketing departments and agencies, presumably because these people have run out of better things to do.

We won’t go into any detail about brand purposes. We don’t believe in them. Serve your customers well and make money. That’s enough.

 

How do you create a strong brand?

Whatever the size of our businesses, we all want a strong, positive brand. We want people to see our company name and react positively to it. We want them to recommend us to other people. We may even dream of our brands having the same power as Coke, Apple and Google.

How did these giant brands get so powerful? Here’s a clue. Take a look at this list of Interbrand’s top 30 global brands.

1 Apple 2 Google 3 Amazon
4 Microsoft 5 Coca-Cola 6 Samsung
7 Toyota 8 Mercedes 9 Facebook
10 McDonalds 11 Intel 12 IBM
13 BMW 14 Disney 15 Cisco
16 GE 17 Nike 18 Louis Vuitton
19 Oracle 20 Honda 21 SAP
22 Pepsi 23 Chanel 24 Amex
25 Zara 26 J P Morgan 27 Ikea
28 Gillette 29 UPS 30 H&M

What do all these brands (companies) have in common? It’s not their industry, their age or their nature (B2B or B2C). It’s something far more fundamental.

All these brands are built on providing goods or services people want. They satisfy their customers. When they stop satisfying their customers, their brand suffers.

Why is Apple such a valuable brand?

Apple is Interbrand’s top global brand. Did it become Number One through intense brand marketing or clever advertising? It does both, but neither would have done any good if its products had been poor.

Those of us with long memories will remember Apple in the 1980s and 1990s. Its Mac computers lost the PC war against IBM-compatibles. Apple was a commercial basket case. Some say it was within 90 days of bankruptcy when Steve Jobs was brought back into the fold.

It didn’t have a powerful brand then.

The Mac had devoted fans but it still lost the PC war to IBM.

The Mac had devoted fans but it still lost the PC war to IBM.

But then came the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad, a string of great products that people still love to this day. Every business can emulate that process. It starts with good products/services and customer care.

Apple’s marketing has often been innovative and memorable but it didn’t help the company or the brand when its products were over-priced and under-powered.

Once Apple fixed its products, its brand recovered.

The lesson we can learn from Apple

Brand value, awareness and attributes arise naturally. They are inevitable consequences of your products/services and customer care.

  • If you produce what your market wants, your brands will grow. You don’t need to specify what the brand means. You don’t need to promote it. A lion doesn’t have to tell you it’s a lion.
  • If your products/services don’t match what the market wants, your brand will go unnoticed.

Think of brand like copyright. As soon as you write something, the copyright is yours. It’s automatic. Similarly, as soon as you trade, your brand develops.

It’s not our recommendation that you should never try to promote your brand. Our recommendation is to assign brand marketing appropriate priority:

  • Optimise products/services.
  • Grow the business using product marketing.
  • Start ‘pure’ brand marketing when the business approaches £50m turnover.

The £50m threshold is based on experience. We have worked for organisations in the £15-£35m turnover bracket. All have suffered from product/service and care-related issues. They needed to fix these before they started ‘pure’ brand marketing.

If brand is like copyright, brand marketing is like trademarking. It’s a separate process that says “this is us” or “this is ours”. Whereas we might use a trademark to protect our product names, we might use brand marketing to promote our brand attributes.

Tesco’s “100 Years Of Great Value” is a perfect example of brand marketing. It doesn’t promote any single product. Indeed, it specifically mentions a brand attribute: value.

It’s clear that Tesco understand their brand intimately. They don’t promote quality, an attribute that might sit better with Waitrose. They don’t promote low prices because that fits Asda, Lidl and Aldi. Instead, they promote a certain level of quality at a certain price i.e. value.

What’s also clear is that brand marketing reinforces what we already know.

It begs the question: why do it?

If you have an enterprise-level budget and if you operate in a fiercely competitive market, it can be beneficial.

For SMEs, it’s better to concentrate on products/services and customer care.

 

The importance of brand authenticity

Our brand attributes have to be unassailable if we want them to be accepted. We can’t promote an attribute and behave contrary to it. All our promotional work, and the budget that supports it, will be wasted.

Cadbury gets it wrong

In March 2020 Mark Ritson cited an ethical hole in Cadbury’s Easter promotion. They said “We see Easter as a holiday to reawaken the generous spirit in people; a Cadbury Easter egg is all it takes to connect with your loved ones and show you care.”

Ritson contrasted this message with the ‘generous spirit’ Cadbury’s adopts towards UK taxation. The company arranges its tax affairs so they paid 0.7% tax on their profits. This, he stresses, is not illegal but it compares poorly to the promotion and the philanthropic principles of the original Quaker company.

State Street gets it wrong

A similar disaster befell State Street, a US financial services firm in 2017. They ran the “Fearless Girl” campaign to promote gender equality. The campaign saw a small statue of a girl placed in front of the charging bull statue that sits near Wall Street.

The statue was put in place the day before International Women’s Day to promote “the power of women in leadership, and the potential of the next generation of women leaders.”

Later that same year, State Street had to pay $5,000,000 to settle claims that it paid female and non-white staff less than equivalent male, white staff. The distance between fame and infamy is short indeed.

State Street’s ‘fearless girl’ became more infamous than famous.

State Street’s ‘fearless girl’ became more infamous than famous.

 

Big brands can get away with it

Big brands can (sometimes) get away with being utterly inauthentic. Consider this.

Getting away with it: Cadbury

Do you think that Cadbury’s Easter egg sales in 2020 are going to be damaged by Mark Ritson’s criticism of their tax strategy?

We love reading what Ritson writes, but we don’t think even he imagines so. Furthermore, if sales are down in 2020 it will have had far more to do with the coronavirus outbreak that Cadbury’s tax affairs.

This, remember, was the time when supermarket shelves were crammed with Easter eggs nobody wanted but devoid of the toilet paper they needed. Very strange.

Getting away with it: VW

Mark Ritson himself cites a beautiful example of brand invincibility: Volkswagen.

We all remember the diesel emissions scandal that VW walked into in 2015. Not only were they caught deliberately cheating emissions testing systems, their CEO Martin Winterkorn was prosecuted in the US and Germany, millions of cars had to be assessed and/or recalled and the scandal even spread to other VW brands such as Audi and Porsche.

That’s the kind of sequence that would be considered poison to a brand. Conventional wisdom says it takes years to build a brand but seconds to destroy it.

So, after such a rough 2015, what happened to VW in 2016? Sales reached an all-time high in the UK.Across Europe, sales began to grow again by April 2016.

So much for activities that damage a brand.

It’s true that VW had to plough a lot of money into sales promotions, special pricing and PR but if brand lore ran true, this should have been a disaster that lasted years.

Getting away with it: HP

We can take another example of inauthentic brands from the office equipment market.

When working in the marketing department at Kyocera, we were incredibly frustrated that HP was seen as a ‘green’ manufacturer. Their design philosophy was the opposite. They built their laser printers so you threw away a substantial part of the printer every time the toner ran out.

At Kyocera, on the other hand, you only threw away a simple plastic toner container (and even that could be recycled). But we couldn’t combat the huge marketing wallet HP had at their disposal.

Attacking themselves: Carlsberg

Carlsberg’s 2019 promotion, “Probably Not” won Marketing Week’s poll for the best campaign of the year.

It deliberately denigrated its own beer, republishing vicious tweets from drinkers. Sian described it as tasting “like the rancid piss of Satan.” Roy said “it’s like drinking the bath water that your nan died in.”

The campaign was actually a precursor to the release of a new version of the company’s beer. It was part of the brewer’s attempt to reposition itself as a premium brand instead of a cheap beer.

But this kind of campaign only has a chance of working after years of advertising that had embedded the “probably the best beer in the world” message into our consciousnesses.

It’s a risky strategy for a major corporation like Carlsberg. It would be suicidal for an SME. If you want a message to attract attention, make it a positive message.

Self-deprecation is a risky strategy for anyone, especially an SME.

Self-deprecation is a risky strategy for anyone, especially an SME.

What does this tell SMEs about their brands?

We always comes back to the fundamental message of this guide: concentrate on producing the right products/services and customer care. Leave brand to take care of itself.

As SMEs, we have to be authentic. We don’t have the budget or the resources to smother stories that run contrary to our chosen message. We all operate on a smaller scale than VW, State Street and Cadbury.

The limited audience that could hear our positive brand message is the same audience that will hear any negative stories that emerge.

Imagine you’re a local estate agent. Your reputation for value-for-money is built on word-of-mouth and recommendations: one neighbour passes your name to another because you helped them out with their last house move. Friends do the same at the local gym. You may be advertising too, but that carries a fraction of the weight of a personal recommendation.

What happens when it emerges you’ve been quoting a 1.0% transaction fee but charging people 1.5%.? Those same people who have been recommending you will be talking about you again, but the message will be very different.

The same applies to businesses that inhabit a small and specialised economy. Everybody knows everybody else. The grapevine that promotes your reputation works just as fast to tear it down.

If you’re trying to promote yourself as a great place to work, make sure your reviews on Glassdoor are positive. Even awards organisations are finally catching up to the idea that they should check Glassdoor before handing out their “best companies to work for” gongs.

Without a major enterprise’s budget, the only clams you can afford to make have to be authentic.

 

Can SMEs promote an aspirational brand?

It’s tempting to promote an aspirational brand. You’ve sat in those meetings where you make plans to improve your Net Promoter Score (NPS) by 50%. What could be more logical than to promote yourselves as the customer care hero you’re going to become?

Resist the temptation. Promote what you are now. Otherwise, your promotion will be shot down by a customer who got poor service while you were working towards your goal.

If you don’t think you have a brand attribute that you can promote now, wait.

Remember the main premise of this guide: concentrate on products/services and customer care. Let the brand take care of itself. Once you have good products/services, once you have customer care levels you can be proud of, then you have brand attributes you can promote if you think you need to.

 

The limitations of brand marketing

The marketing industry is hell-bent on convincing the business world that a powerful brand can overcome all ills. We marketers are the tour guides selling tickets to El Dorado. Don’t believe it. Brand is not all-powerful. One of the biggest brands in the world, Coke, has proved its limitations.

What Coca-Cola taught us

There’s an old saying in branding circles that if Coca-Cola went bust tomorrow, the company could be rebuilt as long as it retained the Coke brand.

When you see that Interbrand value the brand alone at $66bn, you can almost agree.

But we know that this is not true. Even the Coke brand is not powerful enough to force people to like a particular drink. Coke tried it back in the 1980s, when the brand was even more powerful than it is now.

The story of New Coke is a sad but sobering tale.

Company research suggested customer tastes were changing in the US towards a sweeter flavour.

In a bold move, Coca-Cola decided to change the formulation of the drink.

In an even bolder move, it replaced the ‘old’ drink with the new one rather than offer customers the choice of either.

Customers responded badly. Despite the strength of the brand and the best endeavours of the company, people didn’t like the taste of New Coke.

Sales plummeted so fast it had to re-release ‘Coca-Cola Classic’ within months. Even the most powerful brands can’t overcome a product people don’t want.

New Coke is an important lesson for corporate behemoths like Coca-Cola but an even more vital one for SMEs. We don’t have the resources to start to combat negative reactions. We have to make sure our products/services and customer care actually satisfy our customers.

 

What brand marketing should you do?

If we don’t recommend ’pure’ brand marketing activities, what do we recommend? Ironically, we can take some lessons from masters of branding like Apple.

Product branding and product quality

As soon as you open an Apple phone, the smooth way the box opens and the innovative way the accessories and documentation are packed signal that you’re opening a high-quality product. Everything is branded tastefully. Document styles and typefaces are consistent. You see clear ‘Getting Started’ guidance. It’s easy to become a happy Apple customer.

Consider how your products/services compare to this standard.

  • If you sell a physical product, are you proud of the manufacturing quality and labelling?
  • Does your physical and online documentation make it clear how your customers should use the product?
  • If there are dangerous or fragile parts, will your customers know what they shouldn’t do?

These are some of the foundations on which your brand is built.

Automated, efficient processes

One of the components of brand value is experience. Your customers’ opinion of your business is as affected by customer care as it is by the product/service you sell.

It’s easy to argue that customer care and business processes aren’t ‘marketing’ but, in many organisations, they’re nobody’s specific responsibility. Let marketing automation systems make your processes more reliable, efficient and automatic.

  • Workflows to check on product delivery and initial satisfaction.
  • Workflows to monitor and route customer service enquiries.
  • Workflows to provide chatbot support services through the website.
  • Workflows to automate renewals, support contracts and any recurring agreement.
  • Workflows to gather satisfaction metrics and help generate a positive Net Promoter Score (NPS).
  • Some marketing agencies can also automate Word and Excel to streamline the production of quotations and proposals.

When these process work well, customers want to do more business with you. They recommend you. They promote you in a way it could almost be called, well, brand marketing.

Visual branding

Branding is about far more than how you, your products and your company look. It’s about far more than whether people see your logo in the right colours, proportions and position. But these visual cues are the tip of the iceberg that everybody sees. They’re vital.

Getting your visual branding right doesn’t mean you need to do a rebrand. It doesn’t mean you need a new logo, a new typeface or a new colour palette.

It means you have to reinforce the consistency of your visual branding. It’s the kind of job that’s been on most organisations’ to-do list for years. It’s the kind of job that will never get done unless you call in outside help.

It’s also the kind of job that damages your reputation if you neglect it.

Visual Branding: Documentation & Manuals

Most businesses have gone through a rebrand exercise at some point in their past. Despite the best intentions, instances of the old branding keep cropping up years after they should have disappeared. This inconsistency screams “sloppy” to your customers even if the information you provide is totally accurate.

You can still face problems without a rebrand. Manuals and guides are rarely produced by an organisation’s marketing department. They may be devoid of any branding or sign of ownership. Your customers will doubt your professionalism.

Make sure the following documents look both consistent and authoritative:

  • Product manuals and Getting Started guides.
  • Invoices, credit notes, statements and any other documentation produced by your accounts system.
  • Legal documents including distribution contracts, Service Level Agreements (SLAs), Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs), etc.
  • Quotations, proposals and tenders.
  • Standard documents and emails from Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook.
  • Presentations from Microsoft PowerPoint.

WARNING: that one short section describes a massive task.

Visual Branding: Personal & Personnel Branding

You carry your organisation’s branding with you every time you meet a business associate. You can use this to reinforce your brand attributes:

  • Business cards are still with us despite the convenience of electronically passing contact details. Make sure your business cards carry the correct visual branding but, more importantly, use them to say why a potential customer should do business with you and your company.
  • Branded clothing is an effective way to demonstrate a powerful and professional corporate image especially at exhibitions or events where a group of staff will be visible. Branding can be as modest as ties that co-ordinate with your brand colours or as extensive as personalised shirts with the wearer’s name and role alongside the company’s branding.
  • Accessories can be a subtle way to promote your brand identity. Lapel pins, for example, can declare your association with your company. Depending on your taste and the event, they can vary from a small company symbol to the full company name and a brand attribute.

Visual Branding: Events & Exhibitions

Exhibitions and events are showcases. They’re occasions when you want to promote your most professional image. Let your branding speak for you.

  • Branded goods still work. They require budget but the competitiveness of the market means prices are lower than ever. USB drives, power banks, pens, umbrellas, pads, calendars and a million other items are available but choose an option that’s appropriate to the event and the audience.
  • Presentations and videos can make or break an event. Avoid leaving them to the last minute when branding issues and presentation quality are sacrificed in the interests of getting the right words written and approved. The more complete and robust your PowerPoint template, the faster it is to produce a new presentation.
  • Pull-up banners are now exceptional value. A banner wall now costs what we used to pay for a single narrow banner. There is no excuse for going to an event with out-of-date branding or poorly targeted messaging.
  • Do brochures and datasheets need to be mentioned? They’re such obvious items that an alert seems unnecessary. If you put nothing else on a stand, make sure your collateral displays your latest branding consistently.

You can combine branded goods with a message in some circumstances. When working for Kyocera, head office decided our new brand message would be “Count On Us”. We had calculators branded with the strapline. We thought this was wonderfully clever and appropriate. It went straight over peoples’ heads. ‘Clever’ rarely works.

Practical, on the other hand, works really well. When working for a commercial mower distributor, we branded some tough work gloves, the kind our customers wore every day. People were asking for them for years after we’d run out.

Visual Branding: The Workplace

Your workplace is your most expensive billboard. Make sure it projects the message you want when customers see it. Static signage is relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of the building. Use it.

It’s a matter of personal preference how heavily you brand the more mobile components of the office.

  • Do staff wear branded workwear or their own clothes?
  • Does a mug that says “Work Sucks” display personality, individuality and humour or is it just going to scare the bejesus out of any customer who sees it?
  • Do you want everybody to use branded paper and pens?
  • Do you give everybody their own branded water bottle?

Co-ordinated, branded mugs, blotters, pads and mouse mats may smack of Big Brother, but they do suggest you’re a professional and organised company.

Visual Branding: Your Digital Presence

Your online identity is both the easiest and cheapest to update. All you need is time. It also has the greatest reach. Make it your top priority.

  • Getting the branding right on your website should be simple because it should be governed by templates. Update one template and hundreds of pages could adopt the new logo, colours or style. If you have to do it on a page-by-page basis, you need a new website.
  • Email signatures should be used to reinforce your visual brand. They can be rolled out by the IT department so folks don’t have to do anything themselves. The best footers also include a tasteful amount of supplementary information.
  • Social media is more challenging. It’s vital that you employ the correct logos and branding on your company pages on LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. The problem is staff accounts. You can ask staff to use the right branding. You can and should provide guidance to make it easy for them to display the latest logos. But their social media accounts are their personal property. You can’t force them to do it.

Making Visual Consistency Easy For Your Staff

Marketing and design agencies are terrible at helping organisations implement the designs and tools they develop. They take one of two routes:

  • They expect to produce every document that goes out in your name. This quickly gets too expensive.
  • They leave you to work out for yourselves how to use the design templates they’ve created. This is rather like being given an iPhone in component form.

Unless you have adequate IT skills in-hose, you need an agency that will:

Create templates for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, InDesign, etc. that your staff can use. The templates must, for example, include standard text styles, page layouts and graphic elements.

  1. Help you deploy those templates across the organisation so that everybody who needs to use them can.
  2. Where do you store document templates on your network or SharePoint? How do apps access them? How do you publish email templates through Exchange? A good agency will help.
  3. Provide the necessary training and/or documentation on how templates should be used. This is vital with templates for applications like PowerPoint and InDesign but even Word can be made easier to use with shortcut keys and automations.

Brand attributes survey

Once you are confident in your products, processes and visual identity, it’s time to do a brand attributes survey. Thsi subject is covered in more detail on our Market Research page.

Qualitative research

  1. Choose a small number of existing customers who have done business with you recently – they must have experience of your latest products, processes and visual branding.
  2. Record a face-to-face or video interview with them. Ask a series of questions to ascertain how they describe your performance in areas that are critical to you: price, quality, service, responsiveness, efficiency, authority, etc.
  3. Collate the answers into attributes that your customers use to describe your business.

Quantitative research

  1. Choose a larger number of past, present and potential customers – they must know who you are even if they don’t do business with you anymore (and maybe never have).
  2. Use a questionnaire to ask how strongly they agree or disagree that the attributes from your qualitative research apply to you and one key competitor.

Then you’ll know what your brand attributes really are.

Brand awareness survey

Brand awareness surveys face a major challenge: data. You need to be able to contact people who are not your customers or prospects. You either need a GDPR-compliant database or a research agency with a suitable panel.

  1. Segment the database into different target markets if you need to understand your performance in each.
  2. Devise questions that establish three levels of engagement: awareness, consideration and preference.
  3. Use similar questions for different divisions if your company sells different product/service types.
  4. Include your own business and one key competitor for comparative purposes..

You’ll then know where you are known, where you are invisible and, if you’ve done a brand attributes survey, what you’re known for. This topic is also covered in more detail on our Market Research page.

Incorporating Brand Into Product Marketing

Once you understand your genuine brand attributes you can build them into your product marketing. All organisations benefit when a brand attribute bolsters a product/service offering. It can be the differentiator that makes the sale.

This guide’s processes ensure that you promote brand attributes that work.

 

What brand marketing shouldn’t you do?

Visual Rebrand

Unless your visual brand contains an element as toxic as a swastika, resist visual rebrands.

If you’re very lucky, a rebrand would cost £25,000 in agency fees then another £25,000 to implement it. Think how many improvements you could make to your products/services, processes and customer care with £50,000.

Furthermore, the ramifications of a visual rebrand go on for years, with incorrectly-branded documents sabotaging your visual consistency long after the project is supposedly complete.

‘Pure’ brand marketing

Leave pure (i.e. non-product/service) brand marketing to the corporate behemoths who have the budget to tell us they’re an integral part of our lives, families, businesses, country, world or well-being.