During Unstable Financial Times – Focus on Your Brand

Most companies in 2008 experienced changes in their business due to the economic downturn of the country. Many of us saw businesses filing for bankruptcy or laying off employees due to reduced sales and low consumer spending.

So what impact does this have on customers wanting to conduct business with your company? How does this affect your company’s brand identity? How do you bridge the gap between your brand image and your brand identity? Why is this a good time to relook at your company’s brand?

It is more important now than ever to do so. Customers and prospective customers looking to use your services or buy your products need to know if your business is going to be around for the long haul. In order to remain top of mind and create a high level of awareness, your company needs to communicate to all of your target audiences. But before you get started, you need to relook at your company’s brand. The first thing you need to do is understand your brand identity and brand image.

Brand identity is everything the company wants the brand to be seen as. It is the total promise a company makes to its customers. It may consist of features and attributes, benefits, performance, quality, service support and the values that the brand possesses. The brand can be viewed as a product, a personality, a set of values, and can influence the position it occupies in people’s minds.

Brand image, on the other hand, is the totality of consumer perceptions about your company and its brand, basically how they see it, which may not coincide with your company’s brand identity. Companies have to work hard on the consumer experience to make sure what customers see and think is what is intended by the company. Remember, branding is all about giving a relevant face to your business, no matter if you are a small “mom-and-pop” business or a Fortune 500 company. If you do not create a face to your business, the target market will soon develop one for you and it may not be the one you want. Once an impression is created, it is very difficult, and can be expensive, to change it.

How to get started improving your company’s brand.

Understand your brand image

This is the time to do a little research. First, get to know your customers–find out why your customers do business with you and continue to do so. Next, find out why previous customers are no longer working with you. Sometimes this is the most eye opening feedback a company can get.

Improve your brand identity

Many business owners might say that improving your brand identity means spending money on advertising, which requires a huge investment. This is not necessarily the case. Advertising costs depend on the size of your target market and the best medium to reach them. You do not necessarily need to invest in expensive billboards or in a full-page newspaper advertisement to reach the target market. But you do need to create a positive impact on your company’s brand by hitting the target market repeatedly. You must make sure that they remember your company when they need you the most.

Article provided to the La Quinta Chamber of Commerce – GEM Publication February 2009 page 21

http://www.lqchamber.com/pdf/gem-feb09.pdf

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