Brands are everywhere; they’re an ever-present part of modern life. Ask someone to name a brand and you’ll probably get a response such as Google or Coca-Cola. These are undeniably influential names with a global reach.
What if we look at brands in a more local sense? In our local area we have businesses and organisations that mean something to us. They embody a sense of trust, assurance and dependability. Some have been around for decades, others are perhaps just emerging.
Every organisation wants their name to be associated with great things. The marketing people call it ‘brand recognition’ or ‘brand value’. Essentially it’s about creating a perception of your organisation, setting up expectations. But how do you make the leap from being just another organisation in your locality to being the trusted local brand?
It starts with the simple things, the clichés. Offering fair pricing and excellent service, before and after the sale, are good starts. But in a competitive market based economy it’s fair to say that the businesses who keep their heads above water will do this anyway isn’t it?
This is where we have to look at what else distinguishes organisations, what makes one the obvious choice when many alternatives are likely to exist. It goes back to the reason why you choose a certain brand of car, computer or watch. Whether you’re aware of it or not, your perception of that brand has been shaped through effective marketing. This marketing has highlighted the strongest values of the brand which enable it to be recognised beyond the competition, despite the fact that its product or service may not be massively different from its rivals. Yet it becomes the premier choice; the first port of call; the hallmark. Using a certain brand also sends a signal to others about your values too, so the effect is multiplied.
Becoming that local brand is by no means an overnight process. However, with the right strategy and team you can take steps to achieve it. The visual interpretation of your business is really important; would you really trust a business whose logo is clearly made using WordArt and ClipArt? Would you feel confident in dealing with a business that uses a Hotmail email address? Would you consider doing business with a company whose web site was last updated in 2002? Creating a consistent and professional image of your organisation throughout all of your communications demonstrates consistency which in turn signifies professionalism and attention to detail; traits that consumers look for in identifying the leading brands.
Of course it’s not about style over substance. Investment in branding is wasted unless the basics are safely in place. This goes back to customer service and good pricing. With good and targeted marketing, by getting your professional image featured in the right places and by being found by those looking for your services, you can make the transition from just another organisation to being a local brand.