By now, it should be common knowledge that you cannot keep a business, platform or company properly functional without good branding. Branding is key in making whatever endeavour continually competitive. Especially for new businesses, a good brand can go a long way in ensuring your enterprise is successful.
A lot of startup enterprises make the mistake of paying little attention to branding and marketing. They solely focus on making their products good enough. While this is not a wrong approach, it is not a right one either. Most times these enterprises fail to keep up with competitors who are better branded.
A lot of businesses still have branding plans, but not everyone brands strategically in a way that suits their particular enterprise or business. These are part of the imperatives of strategic branding and they are vital to any business, either recently starting ones or already existing ones. We are going to dissect what exactly branding is and how it can be used to favour the expansion and improvement of the business.
What is Branding
According to theCambridge Dictionary, Branding is the act of giving a company a particular design or symbol to advertise its products and services. While this definition is not wrong, it does not encompass the broad nature of what branding is. Branding is such a broad undertaking that these days, there is no standard or accurate definition.
The best we can do to define it is;
Branding is the process of positioning a company or business to attract specific kinds of customers. It’s also a way of building perception in the minds of customers and prospective customers.
Utilizing elements like physical representations of the company (for example logo, design) and recurring themes also help the branding process.
Meaning of Brand Imperatives
If you want to cook a decent meal, you will need the heat of some sort. It can be from an electrical source or a regular fire, but heat is needed. The same thing, if you need to send a text or make a phone call, you will need a phone. From our examples, we also need certain imperatives to make a complete and functional branding process.
The imperatives of strategic branding are carefully and tactfully plotted plans that are put in place to ensure that the branding process is complete. All in a bid to ensure the company in question gets the right kind of public image and perception.
10 Imperatives of Strategic Branding
Here are our top 10 imperatives of strategic branding in no particular order; these imperatives will help you build a better company perception.
1) Know your consumer’s wants:
While every imperative on this list is important, this particular is the focal point of strategic branding. And it is supported by the saying that the customer owns the brand. Everything you do as a brand is in a bid to get your target customers, so, everything you do should be to meet their wants.
For instance, as a brand, you need to know what kind of customers you have and provide services and branding that ensures that they know that you understand their needs.
2) Know the market:
For most businesses, there’ll always be a competitor, or someone into something similar, beyond that, there would be people with a similar branding approach. Knowledge of these would help in your brand making process.
You need to know these majorly because, with that knowledge, you can see and learn from different forms of branding. With that, you can analyze and pick the best strategy for your particular enterprise.
3) The broader picture:
It is always advisable to consider the bigger effects of whatever decision is being made with regards to the company. These considerations can either be with regards to the immediate effect it will have on the company and its other brands or services (if there were any) or in terms of the implications in the future. This helps to prepare and avoid any problem that might come from the new branding decision.
4) Taking Advantage of Social Media:
The internet and social media have changed a lot of business environments and how businesses are conducted. Branding is no different.
Social media presence is now a “must-have” for every company. It also makes advertisement readily accessible to the public and so on. Asides from that, more people are building internet-based brands, making it another key component of today’s branding process.
5) The right perception:
Staying out of villainous lights is the best way for any company. The bane of branding is to be perceived in the right way by your target customers and there is no better way to start than to keep a moral perception.
6) Simple Advertisement Programs:
At some point, you would want to advertise your products and services to a broader audience. On this occasion, simple terms would be best in describing your products and services. This way your prospective customers know exactly what you are offering.
7) Making use of peculiar physical mediums:
As a brand, you would have representations of your company through physical media like logos and brand names. It would be best to use a name and logo that would apply strictly to your company. This way, customers don’t mistake your brand with that of someone else.
8) Know your competitors:
We already spoke about knowing the market, this time we want you to know your competitors.
While knowing the market exposes you to the forms of branding being utilized by most of the market, knowing your competitors help you understand their products. With this, you can build a brand that provides all that the competitors don’t provide as well as what they provide. This automatically puts your brand in the faces of the consumers quickly.
9) Increase budgets for marketing:
A good marketing team would mean a good public stance. Investing in the marketing industry has the potential of making sure you stay relevant and continue to remain in the public eye. Their research would also help in ensuring you continually keep up with new market trends.
10) Delivering quality products:
Ultimately, all these other imperatives would be useless if the products or services rendered are below standard. These products and services should meet up to the standards being portrayed to the public.
How Social Media Has Influenced Branding?
One of our imperatives of strategic branding was the use of social media. We discussed how social media has affected all parts of life in our society, and how business is no different. Social media has not just made advertisements; it has also made the spread of information faster. This means more word-of-mouth referrals.
In the case of branding, social media has made interactions between businesses and customers better, it has also made advertisements easier, and so forth.
Key Ways Social Media has Changed the practice of branding
Brand Building: This has become easier as a single person now can build a big brand using just social media platforms. This has made it easier to build a brand quickly and also efficiently.
Quick access to feedbacks: Sometimes, the customers need to communicate directly to the producers, and vice versa. This was usually a difficult task, but, now with the help of social media, it can be done in minutes.
Visual branding: In this case, the internet helps customers access all these media representations
Strategic Branding Examples
After all the talk on the imperatives of strategic branding, let us take a look at some real-life examples;
1) Uber vs Lyft:
These two are similar companies, but Uber started first.
Uber created the taxi company business and also created a variety with other forms of transportation like UberX and others. This made them an established brand.
Lyft on the other hand had to figure out a way to compete with this established brand. They had an idea and that idea was to make their drivers friendlier and more interactive in comparison to the Uber drivers. This didn’t just make them different, it helped them establish a particular perception to their targeted customers because whoever was ordering a Lyft knew he was going to get an interactive driver.
2) DSTV vs Startimes
For some time now, DStv has had a monopoly on the Nigerian paid television industry. This made them drive their prices up, and without any competitors, there was no need to even consider if their customers could afford it.
That time seems to be slowly passing with the discovery of a competitor, Startimes. While they are still growing, their cheaper prices and variety in channels and content especially for football lovers make them a force to be reckoned with.
With the way things are going, they seem to understand what the average Nigerian wants and are delivering at affordable prices.