Quick, what’s your business’ most valuable asset? No, it’s not your factory or office space. It’s not your machinery. If you ask Apple, IBM, Google, McDonald’s and Microsoft, they will tell you that their brand is their single biggest asset. They are, after all, the world’s most valuable global brands, and they are not on the list because they have the biggest factories.
Business owners and chief executives know the importance of having a solid brand for their products and services, but this importance often gives way to the more pressing demands of sales and bottom lines.
Your brand is an investment in your company’s future. It is a proclamation to both your employees and your customers that your business is here to stay. And like all investments, it has the potential of high returns.
You reap high returns from your branding efforts when you are crystal clear about yourself, your customers and your competitors. You reap high returns when you dig deep to define your goals and chart a course on how to get there. You reap high returns when you consistently do as you planned, make improvements to the plan and stick to your goals. You get a sustainable brand advantage when you analyze your result to better understand yourself, your customers and your competitors. Rinse and repeat for a successful brand.
A successful brand connects with its target market and influences their purchase decisions. A successful brand is a promise of trust and quality to both employees and customers, and it works equally well for b2b and b2c brands.
So how do you know if your branding efforts are successful? There are many measures and metrics to gauge effectiveness, and what you measure depends on your objectives. If your objective is a longer term investment, make sure that your measurements take that time into account. But in a nutshell, you will know your branding efforts are working when:
when your competitor drop prices, and your customers still buy your brand
when your customers recommend your brand to their friends and family, without you asking for it
when your customers defend you as you make a slight slip up
when your customers are in doubt, they choose you over competitors
when your customers know your business and what you are all about, even before they’ve met you
when the economy is declining but your sales remain steady
when your sales people spend less time explaining about the company and more time discussing product sales
Your brand is a collective set of elements – from your brochure to your sales people to the smell of your shop – and when all your efforts are working towards a common goal, your business will reap returns indeed.
Julia Koh is the Executive Director of Brand 360 Degree Sdn Bhd and believes that Air Asia is not the only local brand that can make it to international stardom and worldwide recognition.