Refocusing branding, reputation and value proposition
The events of 2020 have impacted all of us in business. Just a few have seen a positive influence with; unfortunately, the majority experiencing negative results on income, revenue streams and market confidence. Specific sectors have encountered significant disruption, such as hospitality, and further exasperation with the additional lockdowns and ever-changing government policies. However, the positive signs are starting to germinate for most in business, and hopefully, with vaccines coming online, many will survive and thrive as we emerge from this challenging period. Furthermore, with the dramatic 13.2% rise in the stock markets over the last two weeks, suggesting a renewed investor confidence and feedback from clients. Many clients now feel we are coming to the end of a long dark tunnel with some bright sunshine ahead, suggesting a healthy recovery. What a year!
I would imagine that most business owners will relate to the uncertainty of this year. Even a 'normal' recession if you can label it like that, can be more predictable and provide an element of confidence where market forces are concerned. The credit crunch was deep and dark, but you could see the light at the end of the tunnel, and a recognisable tipping point towards growth. This year, which is rapidly coming to fruition is nearly over, and we hope the end is nigh for that nasty spikey infiltrator that has impacted on our lives. We are now seeing growth; it has hit quickly and will now gain momentum as we emerge into a form of normality once again.
Now is a period of enlightenment where a business is concerned. It's providing owners with possibilities they may not have considered just a few months ago, and a budding new company can break ground, or an existing business can explore brand new markets.
It is also a time where branding, representation and influence is and should be at its most potent. When emerging from a recession and creating a direction for your existing or new business, your brand and how you speak or shout to a willing buyer is at its most prevalent. It is the chance for new and existing brands to emerge from the historical darkness of recession and place themselves in the limelight of a recovery. So, now it is time to focus on your brand. What should you consider?
How relevant a brand is in a given market will always be an essential ingredient to success. In a recovering market, a growing and a strong brand can be even more powerful, significantly if you can diversify and disrupt your message to create a more vociferous impact on your marketplace. To achieve differentiation, it is about evaluating consumer and business reactions. The buyer's traits or desires may have changed. They may be looking for new opportunities from their suppliers, wherein a flourishing stable market it was much harder to get them to look. Their position and priorities will have shifted, and it is about your understanding of their wants and needs to meet with those new attitudes. It is not about what you think you can offer it is about what is in it for them. What do they want now? What kind of value would make the buyer looking for fresh ideas sit up and take notice?
This a similar study to your brand differentiators. Your ability to build value in the eyes of a decision-maker who is ready to purchase. What are your current brand values? What has been the catalyst to positive buying decisions in the past? Have those values changed where the prospective buyer is concerned? How else can you emphasise your brand to be on their wavelength?
One of the most critical exercises any business can carry out is the evaluation of their values in the eyes of the buyer. Why do they buy you, your services, your products and your business? Indeed, there is a vast industry that focuses on consumer surveys and market research for this reason. It analyses two fundamental pieces of insight—an understanding of why the buyer purchases, and what they are going to purchase next or trends. Big business spends £millions on this information. Re-aligning of market offering and sometimes significant differentiation is a common outcome from this research, notwithstanding the incumbent influences from this year's events.
Understanding your brand values may require gaining that critical feedback from your existing customers but an extremely worthwhile exercise that not only establishes values and USPs, it also demonstrates the emotional relevance of the customer purchases. It helps you to understand your values and their loyalty and advocacy towards your brand.
Where to start and how to analyse?
The whole process of repositioning a brand in a changing market is fascinating. If you choose to undertake this process, it will highlight a great deal of sometimes immediate opportunity you may not have realised existed.
This simple set of actions will help you to structure and process your evaluation:
Financial analysis: Establish an economic understanding of your business by evaluating past sales. What products and services are most purchased? What products and services open up the ability to scale spend per customer? What within your offering provides a catalyst for expanding that value per customer? Importantly, what is the incumbent value of that introductory product or service to the customer? The latter question leads too:
Competitor analysis: Look at your competitors who sell the same products and services that compare to your offering, or specifically your opening gambit that influences a more significant spend per customer. How does the value you offer compare to there's?
Demonstrating more significant value: Now expand upon your research to understand the market forces that are influencing changing buyer decisions. Is the buyer now looking for improved value? This value could be a consolidation of a supply chain, whereby the buyer needs you to step up with an offering that reduces time in return for greater brand loyalty. What can you offer to differentiate further and enhance your brand loyalty and buy-in?
Can this exercise improve sales and induce greater rewards?
In many of my articles, I talk about small percentages and margin gains across all areas of business. Evaluating your brand, and precisely understanding the historic value of a brand relating to what you can offer in a changing and emerging market is a critical ingredient for small percentage gains. Each incremental improvement can add up to one significant improvement or a percentage increase in sales. It can also build the value of your brand to existing customers as well as new. It creates a greater understanding of your marketplace. It enhances your knowledge of those who purchase what you have to offer. It will also tell you what they want from you now and in the future.
My advice is never to overlook the power of small incremental percentage improvements across your offering. Understanding these gains is a powerful exercise, and it will see your business thrive as we emerge from an incredibly disruptive and challenging period into what I believe will be a faster recovery period than the emergence from a typical UK recession.