Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Basic Branding Kit SMEs must have - The How

SME - Basic Branding Kit 

At the outset, when you are about to enter the market fresh with a dream and a mission, you need to have the following:

1.     Brand Identity
i)                Brand/Company Name
ii)              Brand/Company Logo
iii)            Company Stationery – Visiting Cards, Letterheads, Envelopes

2.     Brand Strategy – A document that details:
i)                Brand Core/Essence – Who am I?
ii)              Brand Vision and Mission – What is my purpose?
iii)            Target Audience – Who am I talking to?
iv)             Brand Positioning – How does my Target Audience see me?
v)               Value Proposition – Why should my Target Audience buy me?
vi)             Brand Personality – What do I look like, come across like, what is my personality as a brand?
vii)           Brand Message – What should I say (through any form of communication) so that my Target Audience responds the way I want them to?

3.     Road Map – The document that details where I am headed in the next 1, 5 or 10 years.
4.     Essential Collaterals – Website, Presentation, active Digital/Social Media presence
You may feel this is too much work and consumes too much time. But in this cut-throat world, you may not have a choice really.  

Invest a little time and money in your brand – it pays.
As you get busier in running the company and business, you will tend to ignore your brand and branding. It is a natural progression for most and needs to be consciously dealt with. Your brand is not ‘any other product’, it has the potential to join the ranks of big brands. If you believe in this, then you must invest time and money in your brand. Treat branding as a continuous growth program; you will do yourself and your brand a world of good.

The homework you need to do, to begin a branding program for your company
A little homework goes a long way in making your branding exercise fruitful. Just some rough notes on the following would be enough to kick start your branding program with your consultant/agency.
    1)     Who am I? (Your company)  
  •          Who is my buyer? (Who do I want my buyer to be?)
  •         Who are my competitors?
  •         Where do I want to be?
  •         Where am I today?
  •         What does my buyer think of me today?
  •        What do I want my buyer to think of me?

If you are too busy to work on these, no worries. Your agency/consultant will help you answer these. Just make sure you make some time for them.

SMEs in the industrial /engineering segment can immensely benefit from branding
The irony of today’s global marketplace is that there are few biggies, companies who make it to the Forbes list; while there are probably millions of others who are in the SME segment. The clutter is more here than there - at the top. The clutter gets worse in the industrial/engineering/B2B segment; what with thousands of small and medium sized companies vying for the same share of the market pie! Evidence lies in the way these companies are identified by their ‘industrial belt’ status and not by their name. If you check with your buyers, you will see the truth in this statement. No prizes then for guessing why branding assumes all the more importance in this segment! Every company – small or midsized, has the potential to become a known brand.

You have a good product, a good team, great potential and a global market. What you need is good branding, a solid plan, a sound strategy and a clear road map. Armed with these 4, SMEs can break clutter, create flutter and even take the market by storm. Branding gives you an opportunity to go from a ‘registered vendor’ to a much-in-demand company; it ensures buyers can ‘search’ you, ‘Google’ you from a sea of unknowns. Branding makes you known for what you are – in the country and in the world; it gives you a chance to make an effective statement; it makes you stand head and shoulders above the rest.
Every product, every company – small or midsized, has the potential to become a known brand. It’s all in the mind and more in the branding. If you are inching towards the big picture you have sketched for your company, branding is where you should begin.

All’s well that begins well. Happy Branding!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

SME Branding - to do or not?

Branding – To do or not to do?

When Yahoo! redesigned its logo recently, it flew in the eye of a news storm with branding gurus vociferously rooting or hooting the change down.  When our own homegrown Bajaj Auto overhauled its logo in year 2004, a good 5 decades or so after its birth, the fraternity debated whether Bajaj was justified in spending a few crores for the change. Reebok, a few decades back changed its logo every two years; while Coca Cola still has its good old logo and so does Nike. Some companies have spent millions, while some lucky ones have spent a mere hundreds on designing or redesigning their logo. Which makes us wonder - what really makes a company go in for a logo redesign? Or how important a logo is really? Does every enterprise, company – even a midsized one or a start-up really need a logo in the first place?

Logo or branding- a reflection of the company’s core.
A company name and logo go far deeper than being a cosmetic garb. The name and the logo together reflect the company’s core values, its essence, its raison d’ĂȘtre. Bajaj Auto’s new logo captured the company’s changing policies, its growing markets, its global moves and its new standing, while retaining its core. A branding exercise is not just a design or logo exercise but a discovery of what the company really is at its deepest level, its culture, where it stands, what it stands for and where does it want to go and how. The new Bajaj Auto logo stands for its 5 brand core values - Learning, Innovation, Perfection, Speed and Transparency.

Whether it is Bajaj, Yahoo or an unknown, every company, no matter what its size, needs an identity.
As clutter dominates the global markets, as competition grows exponentially, as USP (Unique Selling Proposition) stands at the risk of obliteration, it becomes all the more critical for every company to have its own unique identity. Every company needs to do this exercise of finding out its unique position. It needs to find a way to establish itself firmly in its customer’s mind (positioning), create an identity that reflects its core and resonates with its customers for life. Without an identity, the company will be just another faceless product, unknown, unnoticed and unidentified.   

What is the right time to go for an identity or branding exercise?
The right time to go for a branding exercise is NOW, if you haven’t already started working on it. With the immense benefits of branding, it’s never too late to begin. For the start-ups and the debutantes, it is utmost important to enter the market with the branding in place. Let’s not think whether sales should come first, or branding; each has its importance and cannot be compared or prioritized.  If you have a good product, good sales spiel, you are bound to grow big and fast in a new industry, but as you will later discover, even the competition has grown as much. This then becomes your perfect branding time.

Branding, creating an identity, creating a vision, mission, a set of values, a purpose and philosophy statement – all of this should start before you start marketing yourself in the market. It should be done before launching your company, before inviting buyers to try you. That is perfect timing for creating an identity, for branding your enterprise or your offering.

In the next post, find about how to put together a basic Branding Kit.

Extract from my article in Sampada Diwali 2013 issue. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Known Devil v/s Unknown Devil

The 80-20 Golden Rule for Winning More Business
Whether you are a freelancer or an agency, this is a golden rule that works for both, when you looking to win more business.
I have, very often, in my enthusiasm and weak moments spent hours/days/months chasing a new client. And then in my wakeful hours regretted every such moment; as most of such chasing turned out to be unfruitful. I chased new clients, they ran away, I did not get them and I lost work on hand too. At the least, I lost precious time that I could have spent on ‘work in hand’. 

Does it mean I should never chase new clients?
It means that I should chase old clients. 

“Huh? You out of your mind or something? Why chase old clients? They are yours anyways!!” sneers my inner voice.

No my dear Watson, you chase new work from old clients. I can bet you that you will end up winning quite some work this way. 

“How? Why?” – Inner voice

Because, my dear, a known devil is better than an unknown devil. And you are the known devil for your old client. 

Here’s why the client prefers the Known Devil:
a)  The client knows you well enough to trust you (the fact he is still sticking with you shows his trust in you amply).
b)  The client knows the way you work (he knows that when you say you will deliver tomorrow, the max you will take is another day to deliver). But the client does not know about the new agency and is terrified they may not deliver at all.
c)   The client has included you in his comfort zone and unless it’s an emergency (like when the boss is angling for another agency), he would choose to stick with you
d)  It has been proven that 80% of new business comes from 20% of your customers/clients and 20% comes from the 80% whom you have never met or are meeting for the first time.
e)  Obviously, there are no prizes for guessing, whom I will chase – the 20% who are my special clients- trusted, good old known devils. 
f)   It has also been found that if the client is looking for a fresh approach and invites a pitch from new agencies, eventually they will give you part of the work or come back to you in a couple of years with the whole brand jingbang.  

In this dog-eat-dog word, the known devil wins!