Have you ever wondered why one brand sells or attracts more customers than others in the same line of business? Or do you ever think of any possible reason your company is getting a battering, or you spending a whole day with hardly any customers coming your way?
Well, the answer to all these issues is branding; how did you brand your business, right from the name to colours and marketing strategy.
Does your trade name create a code with the public? Is it easy to read, understand or create or sense of belonging with potential customers? A good brand should connect with the public, say who you are and stand for, as well as be ‘inviting’ so clients won’t feel intimidated coming to your business or feel repugnant to buy your goods.
According to Sarah Kirenga, the Bank of Kigali marketing and communications manager, a brand is more than a name, term, sign, symbol or design, but rather a collective effort by a company to help potential clients recognise your goods or services and to differentiate them from those of other firms.
“Branding is not only about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but also about getting the public to see you as the only one that provides the best solutions there is to their problem,” she says.
She adds that a firm should be able to connect with their publics emotionally to create a personal attachment with them, giving them a sense of belonging.
“It’s important to spend time investing in researching, defining and building your brand. After all your brand is the source of a promise to your consumer.”
According to Kirenga, marketing efforts by companies all aim at building and strengthening their brand. It’s what remains after the marketing effort and is what the customer associates with because “it resides in his heart through its products, services or organisation”.
“Therefore, the brand ultimately determines who becomes a loyal customer or not,” she notes.
She adds that if a company (brand) has built a credible reputation, it is always easy to market its products or services.
“Generally, a brand should be within the hearts and minds of customers, making it the sum total of their experiences and perceptions,” Kirenga points out.
Bernard Gatete, the owner of high-end Vision Salon in Kanombe, also says his unequalled service has seen customers come back, at times bringing a friend or two.
“I have put customer care at the forefront of my business strategy because my vision is to have everyone having a hair cut from my salon,” he says
He adds that creating a brand takes time and determination to study your area of interest. He notes that after hitting the pinnacle, one must be consistent with their service delivery or product quality to maintain the status quo.
“There is always someone watching your mistakes so that he can take you by surprise,” he counsels.
Sam Niyibizi of Digital Advertisers, an advertising agency in Kigali, says branding should always focus on you target market and use things like colour and design for customer appeal.
He points out that the power of a brand is in a ‘customer-relationship perspective’. “Your brand should evoke an immediate reaction; you also need to create a definitive relationship with your buyers through packaging and quality,” he notes.
Niyibizi advises that when selecting a name for a business, think of something simple because simplicity draws customers closer and also makes it easy for them to direct friends to your firm. Also, the name should be unique and memorable.
Jane Umotoni, a restaurant owner in Remera, a Kigali suburb called her eating house ‘Quick Serve’ because “it talks to everyone that passes by communicating super customer care, quality service and reliability”.
She adds that one should choose a business name that reflects their brand identity. You also need to ensure it is properly registered and protected for the long-term, she advises.
Branding mistakes to avoid
Thinking your brand is just your logo
Your brand is not your logo. It is the perception that your audiences have of your organisation, which is formed through everything that you do. Your logo is an important part of this, but thinking about the messages that people get from your organisation as a whole will give you a better foundation for your new brand.
Creating your brand in a vacuum
For the best results you should involve people from across your organisation in the development of your new brand. Brand workshops are a great way to bring together a diverse group to talk about what makes your organisation special and what it should stand for.
Not listening to your audiences
Your audiences are a great source of information about how your organisation is seen , and getting input from many perspectives is important to the branding process. What perception do people have of your organsiation and how does that compare to the way you’d like to be seen.
Not knowing your strengths
A lot of organisations try and appeal to everybody, and this isn’t always possible with limited resources. Think about what your strengths are and build your brand around them.
Ignoring social media
Social media websites like Facebook and Twitter are a new battleground for managing the reputation of your brand. If somebody has a bad experience at your hotel, then this is easily shared online. Monitor social media websites for mentions of your venue and learn how to deal with any negative feedback.
Losing sight of your competitors
Your competitors are anything that audiences choose to attend, support or do instead of coming to you firm. There can be a lot to learn from companies and approaches – in terms of how they present themselves, the language they use, the communications channels they use and how they use them, how they work with their branding to apply it consistently and police how others are using it.