SMEs/SMIs form the backbone of the Malaysian economy, contributing some 70% to our GDP. But we have yet to reach the stage where we’re capable of producing globally-recognized brands. And this is mostly due to local SMEs/SMIs lacking proper understanding of branding and its many benefits. Right now, there’s simply too much pre-occupation with short-term profits and a lack of a long-term view and investment, where branding is concerned.
What’s in a brand?
Is `branding’ just a matter of advertising, designing slogans and logos, and coining catchy names? Yes, these are important if you want your customers to remember you, but what are the values you want them to associate with your brand? A brand is holistic, as in it requires time and experience for your customers to know you, and more important, build a `relationship’ with your brand. Put simply, to build your brand, you’ve to build an emotional relationship with your prospects and target audience. If you can achieve this, you will succeed in encouraging return customers, thanks to the loyalty fostered through their emotional connection with your brand!
Why’s it necessary to brand?
Competitors can copy your technology, products, services, systems or processes. The only one thing they can’t copy is your brand image. That’s because your brand image is YOU, the very DNA of your company! A successful branding exercise hence involves the building of an image so powerful and lasting that no competitor can replicate it. It won’t be easy, but the rewards more than make up for the effort. For one, a powerful brand has the power to ride out tough times (think `Apple’). Another reward is that a strong brand transcends countries and industries, and will definitely have it easier gaining access to new markets.
Expense or intangible asset?
Brand successfully, and you will even get to charge premium prices that your customers will happily pay up for, thanks to their `emotional connection’ to your brand! It’s OK to think `short-term’ (money-out), but unless you wish to terminate your company’s going-concern within the foreseeable future, it’d be equally wise to think `long-term’ (money-out now, money-in later). Brands are strategic intangible assets. If we take a look at brand value and market capitalization, between 50% and 72% of the stock exchange’s worth is represented by intangible assets, with a large number of these assuming the form of brands. The bottom-line is simple: A strongly-branded company is able to withstand bust periods better, and better positioned to rise in boom periods.
It’s never too late!
We’ll be very brief with our conclusion. No, it’s not impossible for you to brand yourself, no matter how small your budget may be. And yes, the key to a successful branding exercise is consistency – you need to send out consistent messages about how you want to be perceived. `Branding’ is not just some vague catchphrase; it’s something you can do, and something you need to do. And yes, we at LINs.AD can and will take you through the steps, as your advertising, marketing and branding solutions partner!