How small businesses can use branding correctly
To fully understand branding, you can replace it with the word reputation.
When you do this you can see what actually affects your brand. If you were to buy a product or service, you would often think of the reputation of the company that is offering the product or service. The reputation is very much a perception. It does not say what actually goes on in a company but rather how the company is perceived. More importantly how the company is perceived by the existing and potential clients. Having great internal systems with a fantastic work ethic in no way has anything to do with your brand unless that affects the perception of the company.
For example if your internal systems include a fast turn-around time, that is great for your customers but if customers only know about that after the purchase, this does not help your companies perceived image. If however this attribute of your company’s service is made public knowledge or at least known to the target market, this will form part of the companies branding.
So to create effective branding, it is important to have a look at the company and what the company’s strengths are and also its weaknesses. The weaknesses should be improved, while not becoming public knowledge, while strengths should become public knowledge as part of a professional marketing campaign. Often though there is the question of trust. If you describe the wonders of your company in a branding video, many will see this point of view as un-objective or flat out false branding exercise. However if other people give this message there is a lot more credibility. This is where testimonials come in. These can be organized by the company or come from the public. The public is very unlikely to say something positive as they often expect that the service should be great and so will often only mention negative experiences publicly.
They often also can’t be bothered to put in the effort to make the experience known if it was a good experience. An unhappy client however will often go out if their way to create an account on a public forum to tell the world about how unhappy they were with an experience but could not find the same energy to do that when they are happy with an experience.
This means firstly that you should ensure, as much as possible, that your clients do not have the negative experiences and if they do, go out of your way to fix the problem and make them happy afterwards. This is where going the extra mile really counts.
Then you can also organize the testimonials yourself. When a client is happy, ask them to offer a testimonial for your company, if possible a video testimonial. There are many ways to do this including using online services or as simply as having them to write you an email with the recommendation. That recommendation can then be put into marketing material to let others know about the great service this client received.
With more and more people moving to online services as a way to express themselves, the more businesses should be aware of their online reputation and thereby controlling the companies online branding. Video testimonials do not have to be done by video production companies as many people will accept the low quality video of a testimonial done for example on a cell phone. However if there is a branding exercise done by the company it’s self discussing these testimonials or displaying them, then a video production company should absolutely be used. There may not be any actual video recording but the edit of these video testimonials should be professional because although the original video footage is not an indication of the company’s professionalism, the edited video exhibiting them certainly is.
So whether you use local video production companies Johannesburg based or international on-line video services, the final product must be able to stand side by side with all other company branding and marketing material.