By Rachel Bevans, The Healthy Brand Company
Brand is not ‘set and forget’. As businesses grow, they need to review their brand.
Often businesses inherently carry the owner/s vision, values and personality – some of these brands are documented, some are not; most of the time the values carry throughout the organisation and people they naturally attract as customers and employees.
As the business grows, the business attracts new customers, new systems and processes are established, new products and services are offered, new suppliers are sourced; and new employees are needed.
The business moves out of close proximity to the original owner/s, into the hands of others, with the brand shifting from what it originally stood for. With more employees, customers and touch-points, the brand starts to fragment. And to attract new customers and employees, the original brand may not be as relevant any more.
Why is your brand important?
- It attracts desired customers and employees
- It provides a guide for how you deliver against the brand promise at every experience – from products and services to pricing and distribution; from communications and stores to corporate social responsibility and community involvement; people and process
- It engages and retains current customers with the aim to increase customer value and create advocates that, in turn, fill the sales/marketing pipeline
- It engages and retains current employees who deliver experiences for your customers and are credible brand ambassadors
- Its reputation satisfies investors and the community as a whole
- It is accountable for business performance and builds goodwill value on your P&L
Brand facilitates the top 5 ways SMEs are planning to grow:
For further information on how brand enables these areas, below are links to blogs on:
- Marketing and advertising: http://bit.ly/SME_MARCOM
- New markets, new products and services, acquisitions: http://bit.ly/SME_PSMA
- Employing new staff
So what can you do about it?
Initially you’ll need to define and document your brand, engaging employees throughout the process to own the brand and empowering them to deliver every experience against the brand promise.
Once your brand is being implemented, there are 4 key opportunities for brand review:
1) Regularly e.g. monthly / quarterly
Just as you review your sales results against forecasts and P&L regularly, so should you keep track of your brand. This means you need measures and process put in place to monitor your brand’s performance and make changes to activities as required.
For small-to-medium businesses this is often a luxury as the focus is on the everyday, on cash flow, on preparing for growth and preventing the loss of it.
2) Once a year
Most businesses will have a 3-5 year strategic business plan that is reviewed once a year for budget planning. This is a less frequent opportunity to take a more comprehensive review of your brand and how you’re delivering against it.
For businesses in their first 3-5 years, this is still often not considered.
3) When you reach 25 employees
There are many books and blogs on business growth and when things start to breakdown. Some say around 25 employees, others say around 10-15, others 50, with culture and communication being the most professed keys to success. Your brand informs culture – the experience for your employees and in turn, customers – and communication – to employees, customers and key stakeholders – as well as guiding all other areas of your business. If you’ve gone beyond this number, it’s time to define or review your brand.
4) Towards the end of your first 3-5 year strategic plan
A solid, strategic business plan and a brand that guides what you do, say and how you go about it, make a powerful pair for growth.
As you’re planning towards your next 3-5 years, now is the time to consider if your brand is relevant and compelling to your employees and customers of the future, and whether is it documented for employees and extended teams such as agencies and contractors to consistently deliver against.
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Rachel Bevans is a strategic marketer, brand and communications planner and business director with over 23 years’ experience leading and motivating people to drive and transform businesses to be brand-driven, customer-centric and employee-engaged. Rachel founded The Healthy Brand Company on the premise that healthy business results are achieved by aligning, engaging and activating people and brands around a common purpose and values.
Rachel was also featured on The Fitness Business Podcast, Show 71.
Contact Rachel Bevans at The Healthy Brand Company for all your brand creation, engagement, research, review and revitalisation needs.
Mobile: 0467 441 841
Justin is the Managing Director of Active Management, which he began January 2004. He offers coaching to businesses worldwide in everything from start up and design to marketing and sales systems. Justin also facilitates four Australian and New Zealand ‘fitness industry roundtables’ events, which allows him to see a huge cross section of business models.