By Gabriel Onyango
Think of Safaricom’s Twaweza, Kenya Airways’s the pride of Africa, Faiba’s animated mascot or Nike’s swoosh (referred to as a tick by some). Just by mentioning their logo or tagline, your mind quickly makes an association. Why? Because they have built brands around their businesses – powerful brands. Do you have yours?
A brand is a product, service, concept or person that is distinguishable from others in the public domain. It can include an image, logo or mark that is unique and is usually protected through a trademark, brands are built not born.
Why build a brand
- An Identity
A brand gives a business an identity, something to associate you with, your values and a way of doing things. ‘German made’ is synonymous with quality, apple is synonymous with innovation, what is your business synonymous with?
- Provides direction
When your business grows, expands and starts getting all types of demands and suggestions (common when an innovative startup goes public). Having a brand provides a sense of direction that can help whether the storm. If you are known for quality, affordable pricing or environment friendly products, it is easier to know where to draw your line and stick to your values whenever someone tries to push you off course.
- Helps in raising support
The trust in a brand helps in raising support for your business; getting partners, investors, loans or even employees interested. In the book, To Pixar and Beyond: My Unlikely Journey with Steve Jobs to Make Entertainment History. Lawrence Levy narrates how, when they (Lawrence and Steve Jobs) were trying to take their animation studio Pixar public (something that had not been done before in the industry and was deemed risky ). His reputation, that of Steve Jobs and the success of Pixar’s pioneering movie Toy Story, helped get investors on board to enable the company raise cash through an initial public offering.
- Builds a connection
Customers build relationships with brands, they become loyal and this loyalty is infectious. Think of the Arsenal fans, who dress toe to toe in the club’s merchandise despite the club not winning the English Premier League in 10 years (confirm), or the campus students who swear their loyalty to Mercedes Benz even before stepping into one. A brand is the bridge that connects your business to the consumer.
Steps to creating a brand
- Consider your purpose
What is your reason for existence as a business? What is your vision and inspiration? Find what your business aims to change then link this to a target market. Doing so will allow you to tailor a communication strategy, structure your message and decide on the channels of communication to use.
- Appeal to a niche
A brand can never appeal to everyone, thus identify a niche and concentrate all your marketing effort there. Find out what moves your niche and once you earn their loyalty, awareness will spread across the industry.
- Create value
Give your niche market a reason to believe in you, if they lack a source of organically produced food, give them the best you can. If you are a fashion designer and your brand appeals to plus size women, provide clothes that they can’t find anywhere else. A brand has to create value and that value preposition always, has to be unique.
- Consistency is key
Consistency is key, the more they see, the more your brand grows. A 2014 research about the Impact of Branding on Consumer Buying Behavior found that, as the consumer is more aware of a brand; acquiring knowledge about its products, quality, price, the more attracted they become to the brand. One of the masters of branding Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Brand says, “We offer the virgin experience and make sure it is consistent across all sectors.” Consistency is key.