Are you wishing that a crowd of fanatic fans would stand in line for hours to buy your latest products and services? If so, this article is for you. Entrepreneurs, business leaders, experts and even celebrities know the importance of building a brand. Recently, Apple Inc. the maker of the iPhone, iPad and iMac surpassed Google, Inc. as the world’s most valuable brand, according to reports.
As the hush fell over the crowd – particularly Google, Microsoft and IBM – the question remains, “Where do we go from here?” More importantly, for new entrepreneurs, “How did Apple get there?” Brand value is tricky.
One day you have it and the next day it’s gone. Don’t think so? Remember BP (British Petroleum). The explosion of its drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico yielded a $1 billion decline in brand value. The legendary infallibility of brands can become obsolete – just ask Tiger Woods. Before you spend years accumulating and refining it – learn what it is, how to properly build it and most importantly – how to protect it.
Brand Value Demystified
Brand value is simple really. It’s based on what you get in comparison to what you pay for. To take it a step further, it can relate to the perceived quality versus the price of a product and/or service. Branding is about creating a positive experience, backing it up with quality processes and technology, and then measuring the results – remembering that whatever gets measured, will be improved next time.1
For example, your small business, Widgets For All, undeniably has value albeit through revenue projections and customer base development, etc. Widgets For All is also likely to have committed customers who are willing to pay extra for your groundbreaking widgets. This along with the financial value of Widgets For All, aside from other tangible assets is your brand value.
Brand tracking tools, like the one that measured Apple Inc.’s recent surge in value, focus on brands that generate revenue and profits through the sale of goods and services directly to consumers or business customers, establishing the value of the Coca-Cola brand, for example, rather than the Coca-Cola Company.
Building Brand Value from Scratch
It would be an understatement to say that brand value has a lot of moving pieces. Intuitively there are key actions that appear to be universal when you look at brands that have it all. Here are four tips to instantaneously build your brand value from scratch:
Over-deliver on Core Benefits
What do customers expect from your product and/or service? If you haven’t taken the time to do so until now, grab a sheet of paper and outline the top 3-5 benefits (not features) that customers will receive from your company.
Once you’ve got a steady grip on the benefits, make sure you are delivering on them daily, at every interaction. The small and simple actions tend to make the greatest impact. Quality and perceived value will increase the more you deliver on your stated benefits. Stay consistent.
Carve out your Niche
Is your product unique? Does your service offer something compelling that competitors don’t. If so, fly your unique flag high and proud. The way you position your brand will attribute to high or low share of mind as it pertains to purchasing behavior. Is your brand name clever? Does your company image appeal to a specific target audience? Or possibly your services guarantees are virtually unheard of in your industry? These are all areas that affect your brand positioning.
Communicate Early and Often
External and internal communications are an integral part of brand building. If you plan to stake out a clear position in the market, make sure you have activated a consistent promotional mix that is sustainable and effective.
Develop a testing environment to refine your advertising (online, brochures, email), sales promotion (coupons, rebates, samples), public relations (pitches, press releases, cause association) and personal selling (telemarketing, sales presentations). Avoid trying to do everything at once – set quarterly goals and develop a plan of action to meet them.
Reinvest in your Brand
This is a hard pill to swallow for many startups. When you “get” this principle, amazing things can and will happen. Make a concerted effort daily to reinvest in your brand over the long-term. This may mean sacrificing short-term profitability for long-term gain – but the results are well worth it.
Delayed business gratification is essential, especially if you’re boot-strapping your way to success. It takes time to build awareness, communicate your message and create brand loyalty. Like a newborn, feed your company first and one day it will be able to stand on its own two feet.