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If you want to build and maintain a strong brand, you'll need to focus on what your customers want and how you can guarantee to deliver it. You'll need to be consistent in your service and every other point of contact customers have with you - for example phone calls, letters, emails, etc.

Once you've defined your brand values and your customers' needs you can start to build your brand by consistently communicating your brand values.

Remember that every possible contact you have with a customer or potential customer needs to reinforce your brand values.

Key areas to consider are:

  • your business name

  • the names of your products or services

  • any slogan you use

  • your logo

  • the style and quality of your stationery

  • product pricing and packaging

  • your premises

  • where and how you advertise

  • how you and your employees dress

  • how you and your employees behave

  • your company website

If all these are consistently in line with your brand values, your brand will be strengthened. But if all of them aren't in line, your brand - and your business - could be seriously damaged. A brand makes promises to customers and if they aren't fulfilled, your customers will be far less likely to buy again.

For example, Delightful Jewelry's "Elegant" range may be beautifully produced, stylishly packaged and glamorously advertised in glossy magazines. Its brand values could be "classy, special, elegant." But if staff are rude or unprofessional on the phone, customers won't think about Delightful Jewelry's elegance - they'll think about its staff's rudeness. As a result the brand -and possibly the business - will be undermined.

Your logo can be of particular significance to customers. You should create a policy on its usage, ensuring it is used consistently and its quality is always maintained. This acts as a reassurance when customers are considering buying your products or receive them after purchase. Your logo can act as an initial guarantee of quality in these circumstances.

Similarly, ensure that you consider the design and quality of your invoices and receipts, which can often be the last stage in an interaction with a customer. This can affect their willingness to give you repeat custom and even to pay on time.

A successful brand will remain so as long as you and your staff maintain its values in the eyes of your customers.

To build a successful brand you should:

  • Focus on what your business achieves for its customers. Your brand is no good to you if it isn't delivering what customers want.

  • Take ownership of your brand. Pay attention to customers' needs, but you should still control what you want your brand to mean to them.

  • Be honest. If you don't believe in your brand, no one else will.

  • Keep your brand simple by focusing on a small number of key brand values.

  • Be consistent. Every aspect of your business should make customers feel the same way about you.

  • Be thorough. Look at all your systems to make sure they help to support your brand.

  • Involve employees. Make sure they understand your brand and believe in it.

  • Communicate your brand. Make sure every advertisement, brochure and letter helps reinforce the same message. If you have a logo, use it everywhere, but make sure the quality is consistent.

  • Meet and exceed what your brand promises. Failing, just once, will damage your brand.

  • Manage your brand. Continually look for opportunities to make improvements. And don't be afraid to make changes to reflect shifts in the way you do business or new trends in your market.

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