Small Business Marketing Tips – A Brief Introduction to Branding

Small Business Marketing Tips – A Brief Introduction to Branding: A lot of small businesses confuse the concept of a brand, with the idea of a logo. For large corporations, or even non-profit organisations (think Cancer Research UK for instance), their brand can be the most valuable asset on the balance sheet. Apple’s brand was worth a little shy of $100 billion in 2013 – much less than the combined total of all its inventory and real estate. {Tweet}

The concept of branding has, at its core, the reason why some people will actively choose to purchase – and pay substantially more for – a Montblanc pen than they will a Bic biro. At the end of the day, both implements carry out the same task, allowing the writer to place their thoughts on to a written page. A quick Google search places Montblanc pens in around the £1,200 category, and a similar search puts Bic at around £0.50.The concept of branding has, at its core, the reason why some people will actively choose to purchase – and pay substantially more for – a Montblanc pen than they will a Bic biro.

There is no way that the Montblanc pen, no matter what the purists might say, is 1400 times better at spreading ink on a page then a Bic – so why the discrepancy?

A Short Example of Branding

Branding is much more than a logo. It’s about the overall experience a consumer has with a particular company and the after affect that has. {Tweet}

For instance, with Bic, we probably purchase a large number of pens in a cardboard packet from a man behind a counter who, whilst friendly and well-meaning, can’t offer us any form of personalisation, doesn’t seek to understand us and our needs, and more than likely forgets you were ever in the building due to the sheet number of individuals that happen to come in to that stationery store on any given day. Bics brand is one of affordable utility.

A trip to Montblanc’s website details how each ‘piece’ (note, not a pen, a work of art) is fashioned by ‘master craftsmen’ to create a piece for ‘you and you alone’. A Montblanc store is purely that – there are no other products for you to compare to, and it is likely that far fewer other buyers will be in the room. Montblanc’s brand is one of exclusivity and quality.

What these brief examples demonstrate is, admittedly, two opposite ends of a long spectrum. However, they do demonstrate some of the key elements of branding.

To take Montblanc, this is a quality item demanding a high price, the descriptions of the product reflect this, as does the store layout, staffing, customer service and returns policy. Indeed, Montblanc will not send customers or third party dealerships spare parts directly – the repairs must be carried out by Montblanc themselves; this adds to the feeling of purchasing a quality product, too important to trust to unqualified individuals. All Montblanc pens come with a two year warranty.

In contrast, Bic largely sell their pens through third parties, and their repairs policy is (if they even have one) largely irrelevant as the price of the pen is so cheap as to make a return rather unnecessary.

Branding For Small Businesses

So, in short, both Bic and Montblanc are large companies and relatively successful – despite the fact that their brands are hugely dissimilar. The key point here is that, when deciding on a brand, small businesses must think about more than their logo and a tag line. Pricing dictates the kind of customers you are likely to be able to attract; the quality of your product is to a large extent dictated by pricing – unless you have found a way to do something cheaper or more efficiently. {Tweet}

Small Business Marketing Tips - Introduction to Branding

Parker pens, despite being much cheaper than Montblanc, might still be seen as expensive for the wider ‘pen market’.

If you opt for a high-priced, high-quality product (remember this is relative to the market – Parker pens, despite being much cheaper than Montblanc, might still be seen as expensive for the wider ‘pen market’) then you need to ensure that you can back up your brand promises (quality, reliability etc.) in your manufacturing, distribution and customer service departments. Building a brand is about much more than whoever looks after your company’s marketing adding a logo and a fancy strapline, it is about your whole business delivering an end-to-end experience which the customer can reliably expect time and time again. {Tweet}

Finally – this doesn’t mean you have to an expensive brand. At Aldi, for instance, products are cheaply priced and there are few major brands, Aldi can serve these prices to customers by cutting down on expensive display advertising and packaging, as well as selling their own brand or relatively unknown branded products. However, due to the fact that their customers receive the same reliable end to end service every time they attend the store, and this is a service their customers value, the company has become a household name.

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