Many things can be branded. These are products, services, people, places, religion among others. Brands can take your business to new heights. According to Meg Whitman the CEO of Hewlett Packard, “when people use your brand as a verb that is remarkable.” An example is Google it, Skype your family, Photoshop it, among others.
The best way of promoting your image as an entrepreneur is through branding. A brand can be defined as a perception or feeling that erupt in peoples mind when they hear of your business. Branding can be categorized into internal and external perspectives. These two are in tandem with each other. The internal perspective of branding looks into detail your belief system and values whiles the external deals with appearance. Many successful entrepreneurs are proof of this. Take Prince Kofi Amoabeng for example, whenever people think of him, they think of UT Group of Companies. The internal perception of his brand is his core values which is the principle of respecting people and addressing the needs of his client at the shortest possible time. Hence the catchphrase “A loan in 48 hours” The external would be his mode of dressing which is the suit which signifies professionalism. Claudia Lumor, founder of Glitz Africa is another example. The internal perceptional of her brand is inspiration and passion. The external perception of her brand is her mode of dressing which signifies variety and flair in terms of fashion. It is important to add that consciously or unconsciously, you are a brand. Armed with this knowledge, it is profitable to be intentional about building your brand.
HOW TO PREPARE YOUR BRAND
Developing a great logo; it is essential to note that your logo must be orchestrated with what your business is about. To illustrate, the word “L’AINE” means first born or eldest which represents the dream of becoming a trailblazer in Ghana. The red and blue arms symbolizes the company’s passion, professionalism and the commitment to work hand in hand with clients. It is important note that developing a brand it is not just about designing a logo. It goes beyond that.
In preparing your brand, several things must be considered;
1. Define the company’s mission, vision and strategy; the mission statement talks of the purpose for which your business exists. Your vision is what you hope to achieve in the future and your strategy emphasizes your “game plan” for achieve your goals. In branding, you must know who you are, who you are not and the direction at which you are going. An example is L’AINE Services Limited. The company’s vision reads “to lead in innovating the world of work in Africa”. Our mission statement is to improve every life and business we come across with innovative HR solutions.
2. Define the qualities you want your customers to associate with your business. Whenever clients think of the company L’AINE, I am sure the terms innovation, improvement and HR solutions, recruitment, training, career development comes to mind.
3. Integrate your brand; this extends to every aspect of your business ranging from your core values as a business, how you treat your customers, your appearance as a firm, to your email and signature.
4. Communicate the benefits and features of your product or services; what makes your product so unique from other competitors that not only customers would be drawn to you but also investors and new partners.
5. Consistent research; learning about the preferences and needs of your current and potential customers. It is better not to rely on your own assumptions of what your customers think but find out from them what they think of your product or service. This could be achieved via customer surveys, suggestion box, to mention a few.
6. Identify and communicate your brand message; what is the key message you want to communicate about your brand? The key brand message for L’AINE is that “we live for HR solutions.”This positions us as the preferred HR partner for organizations.
Financing is about raising capital for your business. Before getting investors and organizations to invest into your business, one must first make a personal commitment to the business. It starts with you having the money at its formulation stage before going to others for support. Now as the business grows, there will be demand for increased funding. This is where entrepreneurs seek additional assistance. It is important to seek the expertise of a venture capitalist that would not only provide funding for your business but also act as an advisor in ensuring your business grows. A good brand can attract the right people to invest into your business. In getting a loan from a credit officer they do not only look at the basic requirements of your financial statements only but also rely on their intuition as to whether to approve the loan or I must add that your brand’s perception and value is a determining factor in a creditor’s approval or otherwise
This involves sales pitching and pricing strategies, distribution channels, value proposition, customer relationship management, product/services among others.
When starting up your business, it is essential to develop a product / service that solves a problem and improves the lives of others. This is how you create value for your customers. In marketing your business, coming up with the right pricing strategy and working impressive sales pitch grows your brand. Again you must develop a distribution channel that enables potential customers to have access to your product. If people are not coming to you for business, you take your business to the people. Albert Osei the founder of koko king is an example. Koko king has a wide distribution channel of over a 100 locations in Accra, Tema and Kasoa .As a result of that, customers have easy and convenient access to Koko King. Every entrepreneur must develop a relationship with their clients as this can promote brand loyalty.
When it comes to partnership, it involves people who are like-minded as you in terms of values and belief systems. This is significant since partnership can bring about growth and development of your business or result in failure. A deep awareness of your brand values influences your choice of partners. If you subscribe to the principles of ethics and integrity, it makes sense not to partner someone that does not share same.
In conclusion, an entrepreneur with a good brand may be able to attract highly qualified and competent people to finance the business or support its growth. In order to build a strong and successful brand, you must be clear, consistent and competent. Be the one to make a difference. Never forget that your customers own your brand; hence therefore vital to listen to them, respect them and finally earn their trust.