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Building Your Brand Through Consistency

10 Aug, 2007 By: Janet Holian imageSource

Building Your Brand Through Consistency

Within the business world, let’s face it, you and every organization wants a
“great brand.” A brand that exemplifies your company’s best qualities and one
that makes every customer want to purchase your products or services. That’s a
no brainer. And many of the most successful organizations in the world have
worked hard to build and maintain a brand that people remember. However, it is
important to note that branding is as important for smaller businesses as it is
for larger ones.

But what is a brand and how can you use it to effectively convey the right
message to your customers?

A brand is the identity of your organization or dealership.  It is a unique
and identifiable symbol, association, name or trademark which serves to
differentiate competing products or services. No one element makes up a brand.
It is both a physical and emotional trigger to create a relationship between
consumers and the product or service. 

Whether you are a copier/printer dealership, are tied to solutions
management, or even  conduct most of your business online, the first interaction
any customer has with your company defines your brand.  Is your customer service
known to be especially friendly and helpful or are clients left to much self
service? Do you offer something no one else does or are you competing only on
price in a competitive market?

Communicating the Company Brand

Whatever you decide, be sure to consistently communicate company brand
values and service. And don’t just assume your employees know what your
organization stands for. Tell them and tell them often through regular training
activities so your company’s message gets consistently across to your clients. 

New hire training, new position training and quarterly update training are
important to put in place. Reward staff for behavior that exemplifies the values
of your company both in conduct and content, and be sure to correct those that
do not follow the appropriate course of action. You want to be sure your
employees carry out the brand identity that has been defined for them. 

Building the Brand Cost Effectively

While companies can spend millions to build their brands across every aspect
of their organization, it can be done cost-effectively.  The first step is to
provide all frontline sales reps with the tools necessary to build the corporate
brand successfully.

These tools include templates of marketing materials such as presentations,
direct mail pieces and company literature that can be customized and
personalized according to your target market.  They could also include special
customer promotions, new product or service announcements, your brand’s “image.”

Beyond the basic tools necessary to protect the brand, consider arming your
sales force with appropriate gifts for loyal customers. Appropriate giveaways
can make a strong impact on brand communication, ensuring that your customers
think of you when they need to purchase.

Consistency Is Key

Regardless of brand choice and implementation, consistency across the board
is the key.  You must ensure that every aspect of your organization, from
marketing materials and websites to customer service personnel, maintains the
values outlined in your brand. Just remember that reaching brand nirvana is not
a difficult task, it’s just one that needs focusing on attention to detail. 

Once clearly defined, communicated and practiced, defining and promoting your
brand will likely evolve over time as your organization grows and expands.
Perhaps you’ll expand your product line, refine it or maybe even add a new
target market. Do not be afraid of the growth. Simply make sure it’s
communicated appropriately and practiced through delivering on the promise. The
investment will pay you back in spades.

Cost-Effective Steps to Market Your Brand

We’ve talked about how your customers are your livelihood. You need them to
buy your products and use your services on a regular basis. They know who you
are, but how quickly do they think of you when a need arises?  And just how can
you market your company without breaking the bank?  Review this step-by-step
guide to help you grow your business through marketing in a cost-effective

Define Yourself

The first step is to determine your brand and what it stands for. It is what
people think of when they see your company name and tells your customers what
type of products or services they will receive when doing business with you.

Second, develop a powerful logo as it is often the first thing someone sees.
Do not take it for granted. It should communicate the values of your
company—strong, dedicated, customer focused, etc.—and be on all of your
marketing and branding materials.

The third step is to design and print your logo on all marketing materials.
Consistency is key and all materials should have the same look and feel. Don’t
underestimate the power of the business card when determining which products to
incorporate into your marketing plan.

Promote Yourself

Once you know who you are as a company and what you want to convey, now it’s
time to promote yourself.  This should be done in several ways. Stay in front of
your customers and look for cost-effective options with staying power, including
giveaways listing your company name and contact information. The more you can
stay top of mind, the better off you will be.

It is also important to go the extra mile and distribute your contact
information anywhere you can.  Design bright, colorful postcards that can be
posted on bulletin boards all around town or handed out at tradeshows,
conventions or networking events.  Consider vertical cards to stand out from the

In addition to posting cards, design a direct marketing campaign to existing
customers that makes an impact. Align your campaign with your brand and look for
high-impact, full-color postcards that inform customers of your latest successes
or upcoming sales.  The frequency of the communication is important so consider
mailing your customer base monthly for the best response.

Communicate Your Business

Sending handwritten cards over variable data printed cards to your key
customers for special sales or discounts is often very effective. Handwritten
thank you notes are also appreciated and make a lasting impression because they
show that you go the extra mile. Take the time to send some to key clients.
Don’t forget the holidays. Holiday cards are an important way to let your
customers know that you appreciate them.

OF course, communicate with your customers via email in addition to regular
mail. Match your e-signature to your business card with unique e-business
cards—electronic versions of your business cards that are included in every

And finally, encourage referrals. Your customers are your best sales force
and getting them to speak for you is extremely effective. Encourage customers to
forward contact information via email or in person. This is an excellent way to
increase your customer base. Consider a referral program that offers a discount
or even entrance into a contest to anyone who refers a prospect. 

No matter your budget, these simple tips will enable you to keep your
company’s name in front of your customers and get your name in front of new
customers to directly impact your bottom line for years to come.

Janet Holian is the chief marketing officer of VistaPrint, a customer focused
organization for small businesses and consumers that also offers free graphic
design services to its customers. Customized related products are available
online at www.vistaprint.com, along with
toll free customer service.

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