As a marketer I see the benefits of the trade first-hand. It’s all quite logical. You want to tell the public about a product, service, idea or initiative, so you find ways of doing so. Sounds simple doesn’t it? So why doesn’t marketing work for everyone? Why do some individuals or businesses lose faith in it? Its the blunders, blips and bad practices Now the above are common if you are unsure of what you are doing, but they are also commited by companies that provide marketing services – and if the pro’s are doing it incorrectly, then what lessons are we learning? I have compiled a checklist for ways marketing can help you in your quest for results. Call it a ‘self-help’ guide to marketing best practice. The first part below is BRANDING. What does the word branding actually mean? Branding is all to do with perception and positioning. Companies ‘brand’ themselves to be appealing to the market they wish to do business with. Branding is much more than a logo and applies to the whole business. It affects thought, public image, pricing and product/service selection. How can branding help me in my quest? Perception and response are human behaviuors that are natural and (almost) thoughtless. We are very visual creatures who respond to imagery, quality, style etc. What we see and feel affects how we react to it. I’ll give you an example: I’m looking for a recruitment agency to search and select staff for my company. I consider two agencies in my locality. Agency one has a two page website with spelling mistakes and a blurry logo. When I call up, the phone rings three times before someone answers and says ‘[Agency name] what do you want?’. I make an appointment, which is cancelled and rearranged. When I arrive at the office, there’s no sign, the office is messy, the staff are wearing jeans and my adviser is late. How much of the above is to do with branding? Would it surprise you if I said all of it? Agency two has a full website, contact details are clear and well-placed. There’s plenty of information on thier services with testimonials and profiles of the team. I call up and the call is answered instantly. A cheerful voice answers ‘Thank you for calling [agency name], my name is Claire Raines. How may I direct your call?’ I make an appointment. Ten minutes later I recieve a call from my adviser introducing himself and asking some initial questions before our meet. Throughout he is upbeat and professional. The meeting takes place in an office with sign across the door, reception is filled with plants and each receptionist is wearing a suit. My consultant arrives promptly (also suited). Who gets my business? Its a no-brainer isn’t it? Agency two was ‘branded’ with high quality in mind. This branding was used throughout their service from website to office. Without thinking, I had already chosen a winner. How can I apply branding to my business? I want you to consider all the ways your company interacts with the public. Here’s a list to get you started: Public meetings Public appearances Networking events Telephone calls Telephone recorded messages Emails and email signatures Business cards Brochures Flyers, adverts, press releases and signage Website and associated online initiatives Through each one of these channels your business can be BRANDED. Your branding needs to reflect your business style, views, industry and target market. You can be modern, fresh and innovative Or edging, creative and bold, or professional, understated and personal. Whatever your choice, stay consistant in your messaging, design and image. Don’t let one area let you down; it could be the one that loses you customers. What are your experiences of branding? How do you brand your business? What brands do you interact with and why? Which brands do you feel get results because of it?