A common misconception about branding is that it’s simply the graphic design process behind developing your marketing materials or the logo design. While a majority of the branding work Hot Dog Marketing does for clients is related to developing that print and web “look” that supports the right message, there’s a deeper level we can take it. And that’s when it starts to get interesting.
Your brand influences the following pieces that support your business:
- Mission and Value Proposition
- Customer Service Protocols
- Product Development
- Marketing and Communication
Let’s breakdown a case study to understand how this works.
KIA Motors – A Quick Case Study
The car manufacturer that started in Korea and has quickly gained US market share year-after-year has a very distinct brand image. What is the KIA brand? You probably think immediately of the logo that you see on its cars. But what they want that symbol to mean is the brand – Exceeding Expectations.
They’ve actually gone above and beyond what a lot of businesses might publish about their branding (including recipes that taste like KIA). You can check it out here: http://www.kia.com/worldwide/about-kia/brand/brandidentity/
It’s easy to see how the brand has impacted their decisions. Their cars deliver more features for a lesser cost than many other brands. Their marketing tends to be completely different than traditional car advertising – something outside the box or outside consumers’ expectations. Finally, if you’ve ever shopped at a KIA dealership, their set-up is different than other dealerships. The sales people are salary, and their bonuses are completely driven by customer surveys to ensure the whole experience exceeds expectations.
What they’re doing is working.
How does this apply to your small business? Your business is no different than a multi-national, publicly-traded organization. You need to define your story – what makes you different and have a point of view. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Who are your competitors and what are you doing differently from them?
- What’s your philosophy and approach to how you do business?
- What are your long-term goals for your business?
- How do you want your customers to feel about your business?
- What do you want your customers to say about your business to others?
Once you narrow down your brand story, look at how it applies to the pieces of your business mentioned above. If you’re going to be client-focused in your approach, then you have better come up a customer service protocol that meets the client’s needs each step of the way. If you’re going to be the low-cost leader, then how are you working on a daily basis to find the best deals, creative solutions or ways to cut overhead.
If you’re going to stand-out, then you need to make sure you define your business’s branding in the larger sense before pursuing other activities for your business. It’ll help you make decisions for your business, help you create marketing materials, and help you define your customer’s experience from pitch/product to purchase.
I’m a mom, a small business owner, and I’m a marketing professional with over a decade helping businesses with their branding and online presence. When I’m not spending time with my family or on my business, I love cooking (and eating), racquetball, yoga, and shopping. My favorite authors are Malcolm Gladwell and Steve Martin. My favorite movies are L.A. Story, Little Mermaid, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Trainspotting.