While some brands carefully create their brand identity by constantly investing in it, others let it flow naturally.
In Lithuania, businesses are often troubled by lack of expertise, the high monetary and time costs, while making use of professional branding services is still seen as unreliable. Branding is often misunderstood by businesses on the basis of prejudice. Everyone can be more or less successful in developing their corporate image and consolidating the brand in the minds of the consumers.
It is important to note that a brand image can not only be formed by following consistently planned communication schemes. A logo or Facebook account is not even needed for it to exist. Apart from the targeted communication, the employees or people who sell the branded product play an important role in shaping the image.
The brand image is formed by the way they act, present products or services and how they reflect upon the company atmosphere, even chaotically. These are not necessarily bad examples. While many companies in Lithuania approach communication in a primitive manner, they have managed to create a great reputation. When brands like this need to be renewed, it is important to preserve the organic-ness, which has become a key part of the brand image. In the years to come, the visual look of the brand, slogans and tone of communication may change, however the authentic reputation accumulated will stick. It cannot be created with a marketing budget, however every business can grasp it for themselves.
Significant investments are not always required when seeking to understand what the current brand image is in the public eye. Partial insights can be collected individually. It is important to be impartial and unbiased when gathering enquires from those who have a natural relationship with your brand, such as clients, neighbours and suppliers. It may be enough to call members of the neighbourhood or to organise a focus group with the suppliers and/or partners. While the findings may not be representative, these insights can be critically important for a business which has never evaluated its brand image.
It is advised to follow customer reviews and testimonials online. Lithuanian companies, especially smaller corporations, behave timidly in social media in fear of receiving complaints. The wise ones realise that the uncomfortable question is a good incentive to open your eyes and raise some queries for yourself. What is our corporate mission? How are we exceeding others? The realisation that customers have a different perception of the company or fail to name its key strengths will highlight the need to change the communication. Negative information and unpleasant reviews can become effective brand image creators.
“Faceless” brands or those who lack a clear brand image often refer to their products or services as a reason for this. The fact that the product belongs to the “boring” category does not in itself make the brand unattractive. Those who think that their product is boring are reluctant to see they are standing on top of a gold mine. After all, the more accustomed the audience is to traditional communication, the more attention will unconventional strategies gain. It may turn out to be time to replace the polished brand ambassador with a bold, tattooed student.
This situation is partially due to the out-dated view that there are conservative markets, in which brands are boring. Today, even the most conservative markets – financing, energy, business consulting – are driven by corporate clichés and communicate much more widely. Solidarity, coldness and rigor are a trademark choice not an obligation.
Once you have decided to begin building your brand image, it is sufficient to start with a few simple questions. The first and most purposeful is: “What value does the brand image bring to a consumer?” These values are likely to be plural and not all of them are easily observed.
In addition, brand value is beneficial not only to the buyer. A strong brand is one that brings value to other audiences and to the public. After all, the biggest and most successful businesses these days are those that have fundamentally changed the course of humanity.
It is advised to name as many distinctive features that create an edge over your competitors and critically evaluate this list according to two factors: firstly, whether you can base this distinction on real facts and tangible values, and secondly, whether the factors will be comprehensive to our target audiences and interest groups.
In this way, the list is rapidly diminished, leaving 2-3 key features, which are relevant, verifiable and exclusive. That’s enough for a good brand.
It is erroneous to think that a brand should be solely concerned with the brand image for marketing purposes. Yes, customers are often the most important audience, but are far from the only one. Even if sales are successful without communication, creating an interesting and attractive brand is worth it. People will always favour a company or product that has humanly qualities – tone, manner, emotion, sense of humour, and so on.
A brand – like a human being – is tacitly appreciated by tens or even hundreds of people every day, not necessarily customers – neighbours, partners, random passers-by. Don’t you think these evaluations help them become more successful?