Last week I discussed ‘the cloud’, an entirely new concept in computing. This week I want to chat about ‘the brand’ and what it means to small businesses. So what exactly is this Brand thing?
Like it or not a company’s brand permeates throughout the company, from time keeping of the staff to the quality of the work they produce. Think of it as the psychology behind business, the impression conjured up at the mention of an establishment. mention the Irish government for example. Do you think of an efficient streamlined institution or a conniving bunch of uselessness?
Branding is something that has been with us for a long time. More than just a mere logo and not to be confused with that English actor/comedian of the same name. The first registered trademark is attributed to the English brewer ‘Bass’ who registered their red triangle back in the late 19th century. We must look further back to see the origins of branding.
Up until recently branding was only really considered the domain of the large multinational firms who put a lot of resources towards the grooming and development of their images. The advent of the Internet…has, yes you guessed it, changed all of this. Social media has given us, the consumer, immense power which can be brought to bear on a whim and influence a brand. Companies are very aware of this and want to stay top to this. But I digress, I will return to this in more detail in my next blog.
A early example of branding was the Roman Empire, who dominated the ancient world. It’s existence with mighty legions commanded respect from Carlisle in the UK to the Persian Gulf in the Middle East. Consider the impact of Rome and its Latin legacy, in language, engineering, religion, architecture and military, all across our modern world, all part of their ‘brand’
While we take much of what the Romans bequeathed to us for granted, they had some revolutionary concepts which translated into commerce too. Military innovation meant revolutionary management and hence good communication, it efficient tactics combined with military might and engineering kept them on top for five hundred years.
Rome’s enemies perceived them as all conquering and branding is all about perception. How our company is perceived in the marketplace, associated with success or otherwise. You need to project the image that you are cutting edge and leader in your space. If you can you too can increase your sales and hence your profit margins.
At a recent sale meeting, a owner of a printing company tried to fool me into thinking that ‘only my opposition look at my website’. His particular website was design in Flash, a legacy technology that Adobe has now discarded. With little success I asked the guy if his website was defunct what would it say to everyone about his company? Yes, you guessed it. It says ‘he didn’t care’. If he doesn’t care about his company’s image, what does that say about that good and services that he is about to provide to/for a customer!!! Though brand is intangible and very hard to place value on in monetary terms, it is about how others be they customer or merely your audience perceive how your company operates, It really is everything.
So what does brand mean in business terms? It defines the profit margin that the company can command due to their brand strategy. Take the world of consumer electronics where the margins are often in low single digits. Apple computer company, command profit margins of up to 40% on their iPhone and iPad ranges. Apple is synonymous with Style and good design which keep them as the world most coveted brand, despite the loss of their iconic leader Steve Jobs in 2011.
In terms of brand image, the internet can level the playing field if you are in the right space. This will allow your company compete in the globally market. A well branded firm can look like a Fortune 500 company on the outside and get your foot in the door. After that the sales part will be much easier if your customer has the right perception.
A good digital strategy will help you achieve this, drop us a line and we will see if we can help you along the way and remember Rome wasn’t built in a day.