In fundamental terms, an effective brand is one which makes an organisation – or person – appealing to its customers and other stakeholders.

great brand, in my view, is one which makes you irresistible.

Different brand elements are important to different companies – depending largely on what’s important to their customers. Innovation may be central for some, for example. Creativity, corporate citizenship or quality may be foremost for others.


B2B brand values

When it comes to business-to-business brands, one core element which I believe is vital for many organisations is trust. Everyone wants to trust the people they work with, because B2B transactions tend to be high in cost and complexity and B2B relationships are often long-term.

This is supported by Buyersphere research from a little while ago into European B2B purchasers.

Many of the 500 respondents said they made high-value purchase decisions partly ‘because it’s the kind of thing we should have’.

So, even buyers of expensive business purchases make decisions on non-specific, emotive grounds. This underlines the importance of having a strong brand which will fill business customers with a sense of reassurance.


B2C brand values

The principles of branding are the same in the B2C sector, although the primary ingredients can be quite different.

Take trust again. Yes, it’s vital to your clients if you’re a solicitor or financial advisor. But if you make washing up liquid or cat food, value or quality are likely to count more.

The vital point is to clarify the critical factor or factors for your particular business.


Assessing your current brand status

Entrepreneurs sometimes make the mistake of thinking their brand exists inside their companies and so can be examined internally – in the way they review their finances.

In reality, your brand lives in the heads and hearts of your customers and stakeholders. So the way to assess your current brand status and the core brand ingredient(s) for your business is to research what these audiences believe.

You should probe what they need and want; their views on your company’s strengths and weaknesses; what they believe you stand for; the experience they have of working with you; and how favourable they feel. How likely are they to recommend you?  Why do they buy from you instead of your rivals?

Such an exercise could range from a big international study to a small survey of a few sample customers. The important point is to get a clear, objective, honest view. The results may surprise you.


Next steps

Having gained a good understanding of what’s important to your customers and how they feel about your business, you’ll then be in a position to take the right, decisive steps forward in strengthening your brand.

I’ll outline such suggested steps in my next blog post shortly  ….


What do you think are the most important ingredients for brands?  And what do you consider the best ways to assess your current brand position before addressing how to improve it?