The brand is also a small business asset
A recognizable and beloved brand is the success of a company and its greatest asset. It builds trust in the company, motivates clients and employees, reveals values and generates profits. Daiva Grikšienė, Director of Marketing and Communication Department of Šiaulių Bankas, tells why it is important for small and medium-sized businesses to create and strengthen their brand.
How are a jeep, photoshop, pampers, thermos, escalator and vaseline related? We now use these words to describe the type of product, and once they were all trademarks of specific companies. For example, a thermos was introduced by the US Company Thermos to the market in 1904, but the product became so popular that in 1964, the word was recognized as generic. Even large companies do not always succeed in achieving such a status, but the benefits of a well-known brand are indisputable. Strong brand attracts customers and allows dictation of prices, and it often becomes an indicator for identifying a successful company. According to Nielsen's research, as many as 59% of consumers whom choose new products are more likely to try out products that are part of their favourite brand. "A successful brand deepens its relationship with its customers, its partners, shareholders, mobilizes employees, generates accelerating wings, and adds value to the business itself. The overall goal is to create, grow, innovate ", says D. Grikšienė.
Not additional activity
In May 2018, Forbes announced Most Popular Trademark Lists, the list of the first five belongs to technology giants (Apple's trademark I stands at $ 182.8 billion), while financial service companies and car producers have come to the forefront. Of course, small players do not fit into similar lists, but this does not mean that they do not need a strong and recognizable brand - their place in the market needs to be found by everyone.
"Among the Lithuanian small and medium-sized business (SME) companies, it is sometimes commonly believed that the purposeful development of a brand is an investment requiring a large amount of financial resources and could be, therefore, affordable by large-scale marketing budgets. It is also sometimes thought that the creation of a brand is a kind of additional activity that can be taken when other business issues have been tackled. So the brand issue is delayed, believing that "we will have handle it later." Indeed, the creation of a brand and its cultivation is not an additional, but an entirely equal and inseparable part of the business strategy, which requires the attention of the company's managers, time, investment, and creative thinking "- emphasizes the Member of the Board of Siauliai Division of the Lithuanian Marketing Association (LiMA).
Strong idea based on stories
The communications and marketing expert is pleased that such attitude is gradually changing. "More and more SMEs realize that the brand is not just the name of the company, its logo creation and communication. It is a purposeful business value raising, creating a functional and emotional interface, it is an idea that brings together brand vision, business perspective, creative and developmental energy. After all, the brand creates its identity, character, relationship, and uniqueness - all that leads the business forward. It does not matter at all that your business is small; If a company does not have its own brand strategy, it can be said that its energy is scattered - like a wind blowing in different directions. A strong brand is not only more recognizable - consumers are more likely to trust and pay more for their well-known brands, says the expert. - The fact that the creation and development of a trademark for SMEs is an excessive financial burden is also not correct it is a long-term and value-generating investment that is important for business development at least as much as other investments. Suppose a manufacturing company can invest in the best technology and produce an excellent product, but if it does not get attractive packaging and will not represent brand, customers will not be willing to buy it, which means that investment in production will not be profitable. When people choose goods or services, they choose the relationship, the brand promise to the customer, its telling stories: what this product or service says, how exclusive it is, how it meets my needs, ideas, how I reflect and feel in it. All trademarks have a gift of speech, "- says D. Grikšienė.
The words of the speaker can be confirmed by the American brothers Bertha and John Jacobs, in 1988 having decided to have a car journey from California to Boston. On the way, they came up with an idea of selling T-shirt from the car‘s trunk and they did it for straight 6 years. However, the success reached partners only when the business had come up with a "face": the new design of the T-shirt included positive notes, and the company was renamed Life is Good. Brothers have been able to earn over 1 million dollars over a three-year period, with the creation of a coherent brand image strategy. Now they own more than 4,500 stores, and their turnover exceeded 100 million. USD
You must be a sail rather than an anchor
Of course, companies do not always have genuine ideas, and the thought of exchanging the basics often seems too risky. For those who do not dare to change and make higher investments, D. Grikšienė recommends to look at digital channels and direct communication. "In the digital era, the market for branding does not require a large budget. Effective presentation of the brand to the targeted audience can be exploited through social networks, advertising on the Internet, public relations, mobile gadgets, direct communication “ – says the specialist.
Daiva Grikšienė says that the brand should be like a sail, which helps the company to "move" faster, to achieve the business results. But if it becomes anchor, changes are needed. "It is important to emphasize that the creation of a brand is not an end in itself: the trademark needs to be modified as the competitive environment, consumers' values and behaviour change. This is a continuous process, and companies must regularly measure how customers, employees, and the general public value its brand. The brand idea has to create a business potential ", - says the expert.
"Creating and developing a brand is not an additional, but completely equivalent and integral part of a business strategy that requires the attention of the executives, time, investment and creative thinking," - Daiva Grikšienė, Director of Marketing and Communication Department of Šiaulių Bankas, offering to change the perception.
Photo by Vladimir Ivanov.