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  • Small Business Briefcase

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    Your brand is a key weapon in the battle to inform your customers and shape their mindset about your product or service. Do you know how to wield it properly?

    WHAT IS A BRAND? Brand is an accumulation of emotional and functional associations. Brand is a promise that the product or service will meet your customers’ expectations. A strong brand differentiates your products from the competitors and gives your business a stamp of quality. It may entail a logo and/or tagline that demonstrates the brand promise. One example is Target’s big red and white “target” logo. Another example is Hallmark, when the cards are advertised: “When you care to send the very best.”
    But a brand is more than an image or one-liner; it’s an assurance of consistency to consumers or clients. The yellow arches of McDonald’s signify you will get the same tasting hamburger regardless of which McDonald’s you visit—even in other countries.
    WHAT IS BRAND MANAGEMENT? Brand management begins with the creation of a brand and continues with sustaining the brand and the influence of brand perception within a company’s target market. The goal of an effective brand strategy is to measure and control credibility, perceived customer value, satisfaction, customer loyalty and brand awareness. Brand management includes managing the tangible and intangible characteristics of brand. In case of product brands, the tangibles include the product itself, price, packaging, etc. In the case of service brands, the tangibles include the customers’ experience. The intangibles for both include emotional connections with the product or service. Brand management, when practiced correctly, gives cost leverage, increases customer loyalty, and establishes meaningful brand awareness.
    Canto.com compares brand management to a growing tree. “Think of your business like a tree seed you’ve planted in the ground. Your brand is the leaves and branches that bloom as the business grows. As the tree (business) grows (scales), the leaves and branches (brand) need to be trimmed and cut to adapt to this growth. This is why it’s so important to understand the basic principles of brand management.”
    According to the website ReputationManagement.com, there are the four important aspects of a successful brand management plan:
    • AWARENESS – Customers know about your product or service, and your brand separates you from similar products.
    • REPUTATION – Customers like your services or products and the experience they have. An organization needs to maintain a positive reputation. Market Watch says customers admit they’ll pay 22 percent more if a company has a positive reputation, and that directly feeds brand equity.
    • EQUITY – Customers see value in buying products or services from your organization. In other words, it’s what prompts customers to reach for your product on a store shelf even though the generic one is cheaper. It is the same with services. Positive brand equity allows you to charge more for your products. It also makes it easier to repair your reputation after damaging press.
    • LOYALTY – They can’t live without your product or service. This loyalty is built over time as customers become more familiar, satisfied and dependent on your service or product.
    All in all, brand management is a function of marketing that analyzes strategies and techniques to plan and implement how your brand is perceived by customers and potential customers. It aims to increase the overall perceived value of the brand in the long run and build a loyal customer base through positive brand associations.
    Continuing Education and Outreach Trainer Sharleen Smith has more than 30 years of experience in organizational consulting and training. During her time with CE&O at Troy University she has facilitated strategic planning, performance management systems, onboarding processes, change management, talent management, and more, for state agencies, non-profits, and private business.
    Join fellow professionals over lunch at the Chamber’s Work Together Studio while learning from Steven Lambert. He takes brand alignment off the page and into practice, speaking with more than 14 years of experience in branding, marketing and design.
    Brand Alignment Basics with Steven Lambert
    October 7 • 12-1 pm
    Work Together Studio
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