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Branding for Small Businesses

BY NONSO NDUMANYA

Brands are everywhere. They are a part of our lives, though some brands are more successful than others. What makes Mr. A sell his nicely packaged loaf of bread in a store, and Mr. B less of the same bread in another store. What makes Mrs. X opt for the high crowded hair salon, other than the less crowded salon by her street corner? How do the best brands do it?

Your brand is what identifies your business to clients. Good branding results in loyal customers. It resides in your customers and prospect’s hearts and minds. It is well known that existing customer relationships are the key to profitability, so little wonder that branding is a major marketing goal.

Your feelings about a company, product or service can be shaped by word of mouth: the rule that says one unhappy customer tells twenty to thirty people. But a brand is not just about that ‘mental shelf space’ or ‘brand perception’ built up by advertising or word of mouth. It is the sum of all experiences from first hearing about the product and customer service to meeting customer’s expectations etc.

Branding is vital for long-term profitability and growth, yet few small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) understand what branding is and is not. ‘‘The best way to understand a brand is to begin to talk about what it is not. The mistake has always been; a brand is the logo, the color, the name of the business. It is beyond all of that,’’ said Oge Udeagha, Head of Brand Management at First Bank in a presentation on ‘‘branding strategies’’.

According to him, branding is the process of giving your product a real value.

On what benefit branding can bring to the small business, ‘‘It is the go-to-market vehicle; a vehicle that takes the business to the marketplace. The business is made investment in technology, human resources, but something has to go to the marketplace; the brand,’’ he said.

‘‘If you are a small business owner, and you have not thought about branding your business, you may have issues with customer acquisition, including accessing funds from banks,’’ he said, adding that branding gives small businesses some legal safeguards against people who might want to pass off the business.

‘‘The first thing you do when you want to build a brand is to set a target, what are my values, attributes, the things that define the business, and then you decide who you want to sell to,” he said. “You have to decide what kind of clients you want to attract, including what promise you want to make to them (the relationship between you and your customers should be defined by the promise). Try to deliver on your promise (say excellent and quick service) if not, the whole branding process fails,’’ he explained.

Kester Osahenye, a Brand Strategist in his view said, ‘‘Branding for the small business could help in turning innovative ideas into commercial businesses. With a memorable brand, clients are more and less likely to repeat buying and to go for competing brands respectively’’.

“Branding confers competitive advantage on your business which cannot be very easily duplicated by your competition– it is primarily about differentiation,” Tomi Ogunlesi, Campus Brand Manager at Reckitt Benckiser told BusinessDay.

“Within a competitive market space, your ultimate goal as a small business will be to earn the preference of your identified customer above competition, he noted, adding that the strategy helps the business stand for something distinct in consumers’ minds.

 

Culled from BusinesDay Newspaper

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