Saturday July 28, 2012
First step - brand positioning
By EUGENE MAHALINGAM
STARTING a business is never easy. One needs to be pretty savvy to ensure quick returns on investment and that the venture will be successful, if not, at least sustainable.
However, many entrepreneurs fail to take into account the importance of branding, which is crucial in ensuring that a business will successfully take off.
“The first thing to consider is your brand positioning,” Erican International founder and Branding Association of Malaysia president Eric Chong says at the final Star Business Awards (SOBA) Learning Series workshop.
“Understand your target market. Know if you're targeting the high-end or low-end segment.”
Once you've determined the target market you plan to attract, the next step is to factor in the brand positioning, says Chong.
“There must be consistency in the positioning of your brand image. You can't portray a high-end image and not produce high-end products.”
However, he says that one should create an image that's slightly higher then the level of the target market that one intends to attract.
“Position yourself a little bit above who you want to sell your products to.”
One needs to have a strong brand culture to back up an equally sturdy brand image, says Chong.
“If you don't have a brand culture to back up the character or image you have set up, there will be inconsistencies. It has to start from the inside-out.”
Chong says it is a misconception that branding is all about advertising.
“It's not just about advertising. It's an intrinsic value that (brand culture) is built from within your organisation.”
He adds that having a strong brand culture is very important, and it must reflect the image you intend to portray to the market.
“If you're exciting, create an equally exciting culture. If you're boring, it's okay to build a boring, respectable, cultured brand.
“Once you have the right brand culture and image that defines the character, the brand experience will follow. Customers will believe you have integrity because you portray what you have promised the market,” he says.
Everyone loves a good story, Chong points out. “The best brands in the world usually have a great story behind it. The better the story, the better the brand.”
He notes that when people purchase a product, customers want to experience their culture - and one way to do it is via a good branding story.
“People love stories of brands that have struggled and succeeded. However, it's always good to have a new kind of story,” says Chong.
The Learning Series Workshop was organised in conjunction with SOBA 2012 and was attended by participants from various organisations, mainly from up-and-coming non-listed local companies and small and medium enterprises.
Themed “Thriving in Turbulent Times”, the workshop featured professionals and experienced entrepreneurs from the Branding Association of Malaysia, Media Specialists Association, Malaysian Franchise Association and Exim Bank which shared their ideas, strategies and experiences to help local fledging companies become future leaders.
This year's SOBA promises to see some significant enhancements. For one thing, the awards are divided into two broad categories - the top-of-the-class awards and outstanding achievement awards.
There are eight sub-categories for the former and three for the latter.
Exim Bank is the presenter of the awards, supported by Bursa Malaysia. The Royale Chulan Kuala Lumpur is the official hotel partner. Red Tomato is the official Chinese newspaper, while the official radio stations are 988FM and RedFM. The awards auditor is BDO.
For more information on the SOBA awards and the workshops, call 03-7967 1388 ext 1244/1237/1475.