Branding is a marketing practice that helps businesses differentiate their products or service from that of others. If we take examples from Tamil Nadu, we can say that Hotel Saravana Bhavan, Hatsun, Milky Mist, Aachi and Ramraj are some of the familiar brands that are well registered in customers’ minds, thanks to their focussed branding strategies. How can we grow and nourish powerful brands? There are ten steps to developing successful brands.
Step 1: Business strategy
Once you decide to start a business, you must be clear about what you want to do, where you want to go and what type of firm you want. You must also decide if you want to grow organically or by acquiring other companies. A clear business strategy gives a direction and a long-term plan for the company.
Step 2: Establish your target segment
The next important step is to identify your target customers. Segment them geographically, sociographically, psychographically, demographically and behaviourally. The more you are aware of the pulse of the audience, the more will be the growth of your organisation. Brand is not just a cosmetic thing; it goes deep into the minds of the audience.
You must be aware of your audience, their age group, location, their likes and dislikes and also if you have correctly mapped your product or service to the chosen target group.
Step 3: Market research
Once you have established a strategy and identified the target audience, then it is time to do market research. You must do extensive research to find out your customers’ preferences and also anticipate their needs. Find out how they view your brand and what matters most to them.
For example, people need masks and hand sanitizers now. It is not possible for everyone to start making masks and sanitizers. But you can think of how you can use these products in your business, like giving a free mask or sanitizer to your customers. A jewellery dealer recently told me that there will always be demand for ladies’ toe ring (metti) and anklet. You must identify such facts through constant research.
Step 4: Position your brand
Your brand must be differentiated from others. If you want to set up a cycle shop in an area where there are already four such shops, you need to be unique and different from others in some aspects. The audience must have a clear reason to choose your offering. There has to be a promise that you make to them. It must be genuine and real and you must be able to deliver on that promise, better than your competition. For instance, you can offer a product that is reasonably priced or a phenomenal customer experience. You can differentiate by offering many varieties or by offering less variety but with each of them being very distinct and appealing.
Step 5: Messaging approach
It is not enough that as a business owner, you know your target segment and their preferences and that you offer great value to them. Your customers should be aware of what you do, whom you do it for and why you do it. You can have a custom-made messaging app. You must know to communicate your USPs and differentiators with a suitable and appealing content. Unless you communicate these to your audience, they may not be aware of your key specialties. Have your client list and references.
Step 6: Logo, name and slogan
The logos, name, slogan or tag line must be simple, self-explanatory and catchy. The audience must be able to relate to them and to the brand identity. As people are starved of time, the logos and taglines must be crisp. You must be able to live up to the brand identity and promise. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of going by their personal likes and preferences in selecting the logo. Conduct a random survey and have your target segment look at your logo. Understand what they feel and get their honest feedback.
It is not enough that as a business owner, you know your target segment and their preferences and that you offer great value to them. Your customers should be aware of what you do, whom you do it for and why you do it.
Step 7: Content Marketing
Content marketing is the future of marketing. It gives visibility and brings reputation to your brand. You must be able to tap the digital sources to do it most economically. What is important is that you must do it consistently. You must have online presence and must be active on social media platforms. You can make use of webinars, blogs, infographics, newsletters, video content, apps and many other options available today to do content marketing. What you do must be suited to your business and target segment. For example, pictures and infographics will be appealing to children. They may not be interested in reading blogs.
Your toolkit must include website, videos, press releases, fliers, brochures, case studies, client videos and validations and other things that are ideal for your target segment.
Step 8: Launch your website
Do you have a website? If so, anyone from around the world can know about your business and products / services just by browsing and landing on your web page. The website must be constructed professionally with ease of navigation. All your products and services must be listed there. The website need not be a costly affair. There are many screen tools available today to create your website. You can engage a designer or a couple of freelance resources to create and maintain your website. The website must be updated periodically. It is not necessary that everyone must have a website. For example, if you run a petrol pump, you don’t need a website. But a cycle company that offers many models of cycles definitely needs one.
Step 9: Have a marketing toolkit
Your toolkit must include website, videos, press releases, fliers, brochures, case studies, client videos and validations and other things that are ideal for your target segment. The toolkit must be always readily available with you. You must highlight all your strengths in the toolkit. If your company is there for over 80 years, it gives a clear and positive message about your company to the customers. Such details must be highlighted in your fliers. The more you collect all your success stories and propagate them to your customers, the more your brand will grow.
Step 10. Tracking and adjusting
Whatever you do will be incomplete without tracking the results and calibrating your actions. For instance, a few years ago, Facebook was very popular. Today, Instagram is very popular with the youngsters. We must keep track of the technology and the latest trends. Short videos are ideal for Instagram. Track the response to your posts and analyse the data of how many and who viewed / liked your posts. Based on the analysis, adjust your actions. Renew yourself constantly.
Bhuvana Rajaram, Founder, Beautiful Times