Nextphase Strategy Blog



Building Brand Equity for Small Businesses

The Basics of Building Brand Equity

Brand equity is a buzzword that is often tossed about in conversation, but not typically defined or measured. So what exactly does it mean? Personally, I like this definition from businessdictionary.com:

A brand's power derived from the goodwill and name recognition it has earned over time, and which translates into higher sales volume and higher profit margins against competing brands.

Brand equity is difficult to measure, but very valuable. Think Coca Cola, Nike and IBM – the world’s top three brands.

So how can you build brand equity for your business, particularly when your budget is stretched? Here are three essential steps to leveraging your brand:

1. Begin with a clear, focused position

The first step to building brand equity is to define your positioning: the single thing your company stands for in relation to your target customers. The emphasis is on a single differentiator: what really matters the most. Is it bend-over-backwards service, unique technology that saves money or the ultimate in luxury? This exercise can sometimes be challenging, but it’s worth the effort.

When you’re defining your position, make sure that you survey internal and external audiences to ensure that their perspective matches yours. If not, there is work to be done to fulfill that promise.

2. Communicate who you are

Now that you’ve definitively determined who you are, you need to communicate that to your target audiences and make sure that the way your company looks and feels to the outside world matches your brand promise. Have a look at your branding program or hire an outside firm to conduct a brand audit. Do your name and logo make the impression you want? And what about your website – this is typically the first place a prospective client goes to learn more about your company. If you’re in a conservative field that requires a high level of trust (legal, accounting, engineering, finance), professionalism is paramount. If you’re marketing to young consumers, fun and edgy might fit the bill. At any rate, you want to look like you’re a going concern and not home-grown.

3. Reinforce the message

A good way to erode your equity is inconsistent branding across different mediums. Ideally, all of your communications materials should have a common look and feel as well as messaging. Also don’t damage your brand by straying away from its values. For example, if you’re a premium brand, resist discounting, ensure that distribution channels are in sync with what is expected of a premium brand, and build consistent associations throughout your promotional campaign.

In Conclusion

The above steps are the foundation of a solid brand strategy. Remember: start with a clear, focused position, effectively communicate your message and be diligent in how your brand is represented in the marketplace. You don’t need a big budget to do this – only some time.





Branding Your Company

“Life is a journey – not a destination” is a phrase we often use. Branding your company is a journey too, but it does have a destination – the success and recognition of your product or service. The time and energy you use to plan your branding journey will serve you well in celebrating the launch of your business, and for many years to come.

The first step in this journey is of course “the name”. In the hypercompetitive world we’re in today, your company and your domain name are key elements in driving consumer traffic your way. Communicating something about your business in your name will likely help reach your target audience faster. However, whether your name is straightforward or metaphorical, it should project a strong image and evoke a sense of authenticity to the customer.

When you get your “name list” down to a few really good ones, try them out on friends or colleagues in your target audience. Pay close attention to their comments and opinions – are you getting your message across? Ask what their impressions of the business would be with each different name. Now, try not to ruin your friendship by making them choose from dozens of options, get your list down to a special three or four names. A good bottle of wine or a lunch date would be a nice exchange for the time and knowledge that they are giving you.

Once you have your name your can carry on with the rest of the steps on your branding and marketing journey. Think about what colours you’d like to use in your logo and how they will help project your image. Do you need a “positioning”, or “tag” line? A memorable tag line can speak volumes about your product or service: ‘Comfort Shoes Inc.”, walk more than a mile in our shoes. On the legal end, make sure to register and licence your company, learn how to protect your name and trademark etc.

Of course all of the above can be done most effectively with the help of a branding and marketing company such as NextPhase Strategy. It’s our business and we can provide the guidance you need on your journey to success. Ultimately, you want your business name to convey the message to your customer that they are in good hands and that your company will get the job done well. 





5 Tips on How to Write for the Web

Writing for the Internet isn’t rocket science. But some do achieve better results than others. Give the following 5 useful rules a try-- you will notice an improvement.

1. Create keyword-rich content.

Load your writing with keywords for maximum impact. This will optimize ‘searchability’, thus increasing site traffic.

2. Less is better.

Keep each sentence to one line. If your sentences get too long, people will get tired of reading and drift away. They should sound quite conversational.

3. Use headlines.

Headlines break up convoluted paragraphs and make your writing more readable. They also let readers choose which topics they want to read about.

4. Include hyperlinks.

Links engage readers and make it easier for them to check out related information. Your writing becomes more dynamic and less like a textbook.

5. Avoid jargon.

Use plain English and make sure that anyone, not just experts from certain fields, can understand your writing. Keep it simple and concise.





B2B vs. B2C Marketing: What's the Difference?

Broadly speaking, both B2B and B2C marketing involve selling a product or service to a customer. However, there are fundamental differences between these two types of marketing.

Put simply, B2B marketing is brain-driven, while B2C marketing is heart-driven. In other words, B2B marketing makes use of logic, whereas B2C marketing makes use of emotions. Let’s delve a little deeper into what distinguishes one from the other.

B2B Marketing:

·      Centered around relationships
·      Smaller, more focused audience
·      Lower customer turnover rate
·      Educational, awareness-building work to turn prospects into clients
·      High cost of sales
·      Logical purchase process driven by business value
·      Longer sales cycle

B2C Marketing:

·      Centered around products/transactions
·      Larger, broader audience
·      Higher customer turnover rate
·      Aggressive promotional work to turn shoppers into buyers
·      Wide range of cost of sales
·      Emotional purchase process driven by benefits and desires
·      Shorter sales cycle 

The most effective marketing occurs when you understand what your specific market requires to make a purchase decision. What are your thoughts on the key differences between B2B and B2C marketing? Share your comments below.