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How to build a small business into a big, strong brand

Establishing a strong brand does not necessarily require a large marketing budget, but rather a clear plan and a clear brand-building objectives, a South Africa-based expert said.

“A brand is a way of defining your business identity to yourself, your team and external audiences. It is essentially the sum total of the experiences that your customers and potential customers have with your business – which range from how the business answers the phone, to managing customer queries, and the language used,” David Morobe, regional General Manager at Business Partners Limited (BPL), said.

“Small businesses are in a unique position to create valuable customer experiences because they are often more agile and unconstrained by corporate rules and processes,” Morobe explained.

“Having a poor or unknown brand identity in the modern day market will not only potentially lead to losses amongst current customers, but also deter potential customers from approaching the business,” he said, calling on business owners to pay more attention to building their business’ brand in 2017.

“There is a strong link between a successful business and an established brand identity. A recognisable brand is a business’ most valuable asset, as it communicates what the business does, how it does it, and at the same time establishes trust and credibility.”

As businesses begin to wind down for the year and prepare for the year ahead, Morobe called on business owners to review how they are currently engaging with their stakeholders and set clear guidelines for their business going forward.

Here are some simple tips he said can and assist business owners in building their brand:

1. Identify what the business stands for: The best way to do this is to think of the business as a person or character and how this identity will promote the business and engage with customers, while also differentiating the business in the marketplace. Business owners should establish what is unique and sets them apart, as well as what their brand promise to customers is.

2. Be consistent: Reinforce the brand messages and promises into every aspect of the business: A business needs to be consistent in all communication to internal (staff) and external (customer) audiences, such as its signage and packaging, advertising collateral, and customer and sales communication. Similarly, businesses must also ensure that customers receive a constant and reliable customer services experience. This means that regardless of who they engage with within the organisation, the level and delivery of customer service will remain aligned to the brand identity.

3. Regular staff engagement: As staff play a very important role in how the brand identity is delivered, business owners should be encouraged to have regular workshops with their staff to ensure the business’ brand messaging remains consistent.

“While building a business’ brand won’t happen overnight, establishing an action plan and committing to it will assist in establishing long-term relationships with customers, and in turn, businesses can expect an increase in sales as customers advocate for products and services with word-of-mouth referrals – the most powerful form of marketing for any business, especially an SME,” Morobe concluded.

(with the assistance of BPL)

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