Brands can be on a business level, like the name of your business, or on a product and service level. An excellent example would be General Motors - which is a company brand - and they have line brands, like Chevrolet or Buick, and individual cars are branded as well, like the famous Corvette.
Those brands are indelible in our minds because of extensive branding strategies by General Motors. Is your business and product line branded as strongly? Your business should be branded strongly.
Here are the 5 levels of brand recognition and how you can build your business to improve it:
- Brand rejection. If someone associates your brand with something negative, they will purposely avoid your product. Have you ever experienced bad service somewhere and swore you'd never return to that chain? Have any of your customers said that about your business? Create a logo and slogan that is filled with great benefits to your customer and put that on everything. If public opinion is turning against you or your product, launch a campaign to alter it.
- Brand non-recognition. This is where your customers simply don't recognize your brand, probably because it is not clearly differentiated from competitors. Boldly state your product or service's benefits. Always include the full trademark name whenever you refer to your product. Be willing to create brand names for your products or services, just like you've done for your own business. Find the differences in value between your product and your competitors and highlight that difference mercilessly.
- Brand recognition. This is a good stage to aim for if you don't have any recognition at all. Brand recognition will help people lean toward your product when given the choice between your product and one they have never heard of. At the same time, though remember that your competitors are also working on brand recognition, which means their brand could be more recognizable. Continue to differentiate yourself and be sure to add value to your product in order to get to the next stage.
- Brand preference. This is where customers - given a choice between two brands - will choose yours over someone else's. It often is the result of a sense of differentiation and that your product or service uniquely serves their needs. As well, you can be sure that any value-added products or services you include help them to choose yours over your competitors. Even though this is a great stage to be in, it's not the final stage. The stage you absolutely want to be in with your brand is!
- Brand loyalty. This is where customers will choose your brand time and time again, even if they experience the occasional poor service or if another product comes along that seems to be better suited to their needs. To achieve brand loyalty, you need to provide a product that is highly differentiated, with plenty of value added, but also you need to offer them remarkable service at a level they will not get anywhere else. Providing this level of service will ensure that they will never switch.
Make it a point to start branding right away. Your new business should be branded from Day One, and the products or services you offer can be branded as well. If you have a few services, consider packaging them together as one package and branding that package.