Branding is a Promise
Branding is a key part of your differentiation strategy. It's your promise to the customer. It's what informs everyone about who you are as a small business, what you represent, and what your services promise. Your company's advertising, logo, website, social engagement, cards, promotional materials - all of this stuff - communicates your brand. Banding affects you because it's what you're whispering into the ear of new and existing clients, each and every day.
Brand equity refers to the added value that is brought to customers who use your products or services. That value is what allow you to form relationships, charge more for what you do, earn trust and confidence, and persuade people. It's a perceived quality in your work, products, or service, and often enlists an emotional attachment.
Technology and Branding Go Hand-in-Hand
Technology and its implementation plays a critical role in reinforcing the brand of your small business. Think about what your attention to technology might be communicating about your brand:
- Is the technology you use innovative? Or are you using technology from a decade or a decade and a half ago?
- Are you always late or always right on time?
- Are customer histories, notes, and records always available to you? Or does it take you days or weeks to locate critical information?
- What's your inventory churn? Your mins, maxes, critical lows, re-order points? Do you know this, so you're ordering your inventory "just-in-time", or, are you winging it? How's those assumptions workin' for ya on your balance sheet?
- Is it really easy to contact your business and get routed to somebody who can help? Or, do you throw your customers into a maze of auto-attendant, number-pushing, voicemail crap that only frustrates the Hell out of them?
- What's your receivable numbers? Cash is blood to your business. Why don't you know those numbers instantly, so you know your position? Or are you managing your business from the seat of your pants?
- Is it easy for your team to communicate, collaborate, share information? Or is it hard to get work done?
- When a potential customer visits your website, what do they find? Something circa 2005 made by an intern, or, are they really impressed with the attention to visual design, ease-of-use, self-service, and customer utility? How does that experience stand out (or freak out) on mobile platforms?
- How does technology add value to the customer experience? Self-service portals, up-to-date and relevant information, synchronized events and calendaring for expectations management, prompt return calls and efficiency. Is this what your company's brand is saying, or, is it saying something different? Hand-written invoices. Slow response times. Difficulty in placing and managing orders. Lack of attention to security and protecting the interests/concerns of your customer.
What's all This Saying?
What's all this saying about your firm? About your brand? About your small business?
Take a critical look at your brand and the messages you're constantly sending.
What does your brand say? What is it saying right now? What do you want it to say?
Technology can compliment brand equity. It can also harm it. So what's it doing for you?