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Learn what makes a brand grow
Know what drives consumer behaviour and what branding really can do
Learn from other people's mistakes and save money in the long term
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Establishing and building a business brand can be a daunting exercise but in the ever-challenging world of business, being significant, recognisable and emotionally connected to an audience is becoming more and more important. No amount of tricks or outsourcing will help establish your brand in the mind of your customer. It takes clarity, commitment and the right help to make it happen. It also has to come from a genuine place – you have to be the brand you say you are and not just give lip service to your customer base or staff. Powerful brands stick in the minds of customers and this creates a familiarity that makes people feel reassured about their decision to engage with a brand. Customers simply know what to expect.
So how can this ease and familiarity be created in different locations run by so many different business owners or managers? Growing an existing brand can be challenging because any expansion in business necessitates the management or leadership team tackling many issues simultaneously. Two key areas are systems and branding. If you have the right systems in place you can deliver a consistent experience that meets the expectations of franchisees or managers, suppliers and customers. It is important that these systems support the first and ongoing contact that people have with the business. The brand includes how staff talk to customers and what customers see, read, hear, or even touch or taste in some instances. Once you have all of these aligned to match what your brand stands for and its inherent values, you have a very powerful brand and system.
When people understand your company and the value you offer they are willing to pay a premium, but I wouldn’t suggest putting up your prices just because you think this will position you differently from another brand. You have to earn that price. If you build equity in your brand by carefully considering how it looks, feels and operates then people can respect the effort you make to connect with them. They are more willing to hand over their hard-earned money to be aligned with what you do and offer. If you want to compete on price alone then this may not be the book for you. You can have cheap prices and have a brand that matches this, but customers still expect more and more even from cheap brands so it is becoming difficult to have this as your sole strategy in business. Cheap prices, good service and generally lots of marketing investment are what make a lot of ‘cheap’ brands successful. Bunnings offer ‘lowest prices’ because they are a big operation, but they also know that isn’t enough. They have consistent television and print advertising, good customer service training and a very organised approach to stock management.
Franchising in Australasia continues to grow in popularity and it is seen by many as the ideal way of expanding a business into something bigger and more significant in an increasingly competitive business landscape. The other growth alternative is to expand the business under one company with many managers, staff and locations. Both of these growth paths include challenges in keeping messages and the visual aspects of the brand consistent.
What is the big deal about a brand?
A major reason for writing this book was to highlight an often overlooked area among business owners who are looking to expand their business: branding. Why is it overlooked? From my experience talking and working closely with business owners involved in franchising and business expansion, it comes down to a lack of understanding about what value branding has, a lack of funding to dedicate towards branding activity, or simply sliding it down the list of important things to address. I want to draw greater attention to this topic of expansion branding to clear up the general confusion about what it is and to make it easier for readers to understand branding when applying it to their own business.
I love working on and analysing brands, and will share information that will assist people in making more meaningful, reputable and ethical brands for their company. Why is this so important? More engaged customers, staff and franchisees or managers will be attained with better brand planning, design and investment. This translates to more recognition and ultimately more return. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t want to be recognised for all the right reasons, and money, well that just gives you the freedom to operate in the best capacity to get stuff done!
If you opt for the franchise system direction you will no doubt face franchisees asking the question, ‘Why am I paying for this?’ It’s your job to justify their payments and align them to the value of not just the direct services but the value of your systems and brand.
If you are planning on expansion under the one company, your managers in each location need to be armed with all the tools to clearly operate and communicate brand messages to staff and customers on the ground. Assuming people know what you stand for is simply not good enough. You need to tell all of the relevant people, all of the time, to reinforce your vision.
Setting a design style for your company is a great way of creating familiarity and distinction. The more effort you put into it at the start the more set up you will be for the future. I liken it to successful car models. When you have a great car model you can get a lot of use out of the one design. You can have features that upgrade year after year, but if you put a lot of thought into the shape and style of the car it does not need to significantly change to remain relevant and successful. Much like businesses that also need to upgrade over time. Your features should always be improving, but if you can get your style right then you get the maximum benefit of not having to redesign everything. Your customers and potential customers benefit from
being able to recognise you and being familiar with how you look
The longest-running and most-manufactured car of a single design platform was the VW Beetle. The final production of the original VW Beetle design stopped in 2003 with the last car rolling off the manufacturing line in Mexico. Over twenty-one-and-a-half million Beetles had been produced over this long history. Planning well and knowing what you want your design to achieve in your business can save you spending money unnecessarily where it isn’t needed. The Beetle still lives on to this day in its new, rejuvenated form, designed in 1997. The more modern design still reflects the essence of the original car with more modern features and curves.
‘UNLESS YOU HAVE ABSOLUTE CLARITY OF WHAT YOUR BRAND STANDS FOR, EVERYTHING ELSE IS IRRELEVANT.’
MARK BAYNES, GLOBAL CMO, KELLOGG
‘MASS ADVERTISING CAN HELP BUILD BRANDS, BUT AUTHENTICITY IS WHAT MAKES THEM LAST. IF PEOPLE BELIEVE THEY SHARE VALUES WITH A COMPANY, THEY WILL STAY LOYAL TO THE BRAND.’
HOWARD SCHULTZ, AUTHOR OF ‘POUR YOUR HEART INTO IT: HOW STARBUCKS BUILT A COMPANY ONE CUP AT A TIME’
‘SO HERE IS MY PLEA. WHILST I MAY STRUGGLE TO CHANGE THE WORLD AND ALL INSTITUTIONS, TO REBUILD THE TRUST THAT HAS BEEN LOST, I CAN DETERMINE MY OWN COMPANY. SO I URGE OTHER BUSINESS LEADERS AND PEOPLE MANAGERS TO DO THE SAME. TO RUN YOUR BUSINESSES BASED ON VALUES, TO GIVE YOUR EMPLOYEES SOMETHING THEY CAN BELIEVE IN – AND IN RETURN THEY WILL GIVE YOU THEIR ENGAGEMENT AND DISCRETIONARY EFFORT.’
NAOMI SIMSON, FOUNDER, REDBALLOON
When talking of business values I’m not talking about the value you offer to a customer (though that’s also very important); company values are the foundation on which the measures of integrity are based. Integrity builds relationships and a level of trust that people can connect with. It is your internal culture – what you collectively value, how you do things, your commonly held beliefs and expectations.
Everyone who works in your organisation should live by the set of values you create, and should exit the company if they do not believe or practise them. This creates a united front and builds a consistent brand experience for your customers or your franchisees’ customers.
Religious organisations have very strong value systems that they expect followers to abide by, otherwise they really don’t fit the ‘believer’ profile. Some more than others. You would not expect people to be involved in a religious group if they didn’t believe in it. It’s very much the same for an organisation. You don’t want people involved that ultimately undermine the values you have built for the business. The more of an emotional connection you can create within the organisation, the more convincing it will be to those who become your brand ambassadors, through staff and even your customers. I’m sure you have come across Apple brand preachers or enthusiasts. Not everyone buys into the Apple brand for themselves but they know how passionate and loyal some people are about it. They truly believe in the brand.
The following are some examples of company values set by some of the top ten ‘2013 Best Places to Work’ companies in Australia, in their own words.
Open company, no bullshit: Atlassian embraces transparency wherever at all practical, and sometimes where impractical. All information, both internal and external, is public by default. We are not afraid
of being honest with ourselves, our staff and
Build with heart and balance: Everyday we try to build products that are useful and that people lust after. Building with heart means really caring about what we’re making and doing – it’s a mission, not just a job. When we build with balance we take into account how initiatives and decisions will affect our colleagues, customers and stakeholders.
Don’t #@!% the customer: When we make internal decisions we ask ourselves ‘how will this affect our customers?’ If the answer is that it would ‘screw’ them, or make life more difficult, then we need to find a better way. We want the customer to respect us in
Play, as a team: We want all Atlassians to feel like they work with Atlassian, not for Atlassian. We think it’s important to have fun with your workmates while working and contributing to the Atlassian team.
Be the change you seek: We think Gandhi had it pretty right when he said ‘We need to be the change we wish to see in the world’. At Atlassian we encourage everyone to create positive change – we’re constantly looking for ways to improve our company, our products and our environment.
The Physio Co. Values
(Physiotherapists for the elderly)
We understand that a small thing on our list of priorities may be the ONLY thing that matters
to an elderly client. Therefore:
We are always on time.
We always do what we say we will do.
We always communicate in clear, concise
and honest ways.
We are generous with our time to help others.
We set high standards, have great attention
to detail and like to impress. Therefore:
We are friendly and make positive first impressions.
We make people smile with our personal
and understanding approach.
We take the time to celebrate milestones
We wow people whenever possible.
Find a better way:
Complacency is not our thing. Therefore:
We always search for new ways that help our
clients, customers and team members.
We are committed to constantly improving: personally & collectively.
We inspire others by continually finding a
Think big, act small:
(We are David, not Goliath). Therefore:
We are always prepared to ‘give it a go’.
We are nimble, flexible and easy going.
We always ask: ‘what can I do next?’
We all help to achieve our painted picture
of the future.
(Experience gift buying website)
Integrity: We will do what we say we are going
to do. If you ever need support, you will never
have to ask twice.
Generosity: Be open and generous with sharing information, knowledge and most importantly,
Leadership: We are a team of leaders. You are able to make decisions when needed, and the team will back you on those decisions.
Sense of Humour and Fun: Have fun. Celebrate, laugh at yourself and share a joke.
Little Dog with a Big Dog Personality: Keep the culture of innovation, flexibility, courage and ‘let’s
give it a try’ alive.
These are all excellent examples of companies that have spent time coming up with values that really represent them. Staff can get behind these values and understand them, and spread the message with their behaviour in the workplace. It has huge benefits if you spend the time discovering what the values are for your company.
Another value-driven company is Zappos, an online clothing and shoe retailer in the US. We don’t get to really experience it here in Australia, but the founder Tony Hsieh has managed to develop an amazing work culture based on values he determined about six or seven years into running the company. The company was operating based on these values to begin with, but they were not specifically written down and could not be shared across his rapidly growing business. He stated in his book ‘Delivering Happiness, A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose’ that ‘I’m just glad that an employee finally convinced me that it was necessary to come up with core values – essentially, a formalised definition of our culture – in order for us to continue to scale and grow. I only wish we had done it sooner.’
Zappos did rapidly grow when Tony determined, in writing, what his business culture, values and core focus were – delivering WOW through service. This became the brand and allowed him to make strategic business decisions much more easily, was better for employees to manage, and became something to be known for in consumers’ minds. Tony determined the company core values based on model employees; he tried to figure out what values personified them. He also tried to figure out what values didn’t work well based on ex-employees who didn’t fit the culture, and he made sure he knew what they were. This led to his list of 10 core values or Zappos:
(Online clothing and shoe retailer)
Deliver WOW Through Service
Embrace and Drive Change
Create Fun and a Little Weirdness
Be Adventurous, Creative
Pursue Growth and Learning
Build Open and Honest
Relationships with Communication
Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
Do More with Less
Be Passionate and Determined
Now this is a pretty long list which, off the bat, would be hard to remember. However, Tony has managed to ingrain these values in his staff, not by reciting them, but by creating actions within the workplace that mirror these values. He works hard to make decisions that encourage this behaviour. After becoming the highest-ranking newcomer in ‘Fortune’ magazine’s ‘Best Companies to Work For’ list in 2009, Zappos was acquired by Amazon in a deal valued at over $1.2 billion. This proves that a values-driven company really can make its mark in business. So what is your list going to be?
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
• If you don’t have values that are clear, get clear. Talk to experts or business consultants to guide you through and discover what core values you hold for the company, and build systems to support them. This is where a lot of companies fail as soon as a strong leader leaves the business. When you grow a large organisation you cannot afford to rely on one person to hold it together. It’s unfortunate but people do get sick, retire or pass away, and if the company does not have strong values it is difficult for others to continue to evolve the company visions and missions when the market changes. People are left to try to figure out what they stand for and need to carry on delivering within the business.
• Write down the values and make sure everyone knows them. You can do this by having interesting booklets that explain your values or hold events that reinforce what you believe is good practice to support. Post them on your website, noticeboard or anywhere else people can easily see them. Religious groups can be really good at reinforcing their values by getting out in the community and ‘practising what they preach’ by supporting the less fortunate with activities or fundraising. When you find an activity that aligns to your company and what it stands behind, the easier it will be for people to ‘get it’.
• Focus on your team. Don’t set out your company values purely to be focused on the customer experience, to look pretty on your website or as another piece of meaningless corporate jargon. It needs to be more than that. Your staff or franchisees need to feel valued and included in the overall picture. Be inclusive in the process as well as being accountable by saying you value their wellbeing and happiness as well as their success.
• Keep the list short. Four or five points is probably the maximum you want to have so they can be remembered easily by the greatest number of people in your organisation. But there are always exceptions to the rules, like Tony Hsieh’s long list of ten.
Available at all your favourite online bookstores. Booktopia, Book Depository, Amazon and for digital copies via Amazon Kindle and iBooks. Just search for 'Expandable Brands' on your site of choice or select below for a link to Amazon.Available Now
As a brand grows bigger and spreads its influence across state and even national borders, maintaining its integral identity becomes increasingly more challenging, not only for the founders at head office, but also for those partners who may find themselves far from the hub of decision-making. Expandable Brands (A guide to growing business locations while protecting your brand) by Clare Balmer reads like a road map to success that most commercial entities should be able to steer by. It charts the different stages and aspects of structuring a brand identity, but also provides valuable insight on how to maintain continuity, once your brand's performance reflects how well individual franchisees interpret and express your vision in their outlets. The book dissects the anatomy of a brand's identity and discusses in detail how the different aspects of it - such as in-store music, the hue of your logo, and the way it interacts with customers across various media - can influence public perception of it. Tips and strategies are backed up with relevant case studies.
Expandable Brands (A guide to growing business locations while protecting your brand) by Clare Balmer is written from an Australian perspective and is tailored to address the legal and corporate challenges faced in the Australian business world, but its detailed analyses can still be applied to other markets and global scenarios. The format is clear and easy to read, with relevant quotes from brand leaders heading each section. At the end of each chapter, the reader is prompted towards self examination through a series of penetrative questions. The book will be particularly useful as a practical guide that helps brand managers to pinpoint just where they need to invest more of their efforts, initiative, and budget. It is a good niche business resource, which you will be able to return to as your brand passes through different growth phases.
Clare has provided a great tool with Expandable Brands. In one book you have practical examples of how to think about the areas that build a brand or in fact a business. You are then guided on how to make changes that are critical to moving forward successfully.
Too often we do as Bill Bernbach of Doyle Dane Bernbach advertising said “We are so busy measuring statistics, we forget we can create them”. Clare provides the key issues to focus on so you can create your business future and not just keep measuring the past and rearranging the deck chairs.
Now is the time TO GO FOR IT. There are now no excuses for not knowing what is required and now having the resource with Expandable Brands.
I’ve been a successful freelance illustrator and textile designer for 18 years. However, as a solo operator I often question my relevance in the market and the direction I’m heading. I’m not looking at franchising, but my goal has certainly been to expand somehow. I realise I think about it a lot, but without any structure or the relevant tools to head confidently forward.
After reading this book I’m overwhelmed with motivation! It’s written clearly, and its systematic approach allows you as you read each chapter, to easily assess how it relates to your own business and by offering helpful tips and checklists you can easily recognise those areas that need improving.
It really inspired me to take a look in the mirror and assess what my business stands for, the way it’s perceived by others and my strengths and shortcomings. With that mapped out, it is a great reference in helping me to really consider and consolidate my offering and position in the market, guiding the direction of my future growth and enabling me to develop a great strategy to achieve it.
Any size or type of business would really benefit from reading Expandable Brands.
I have worked in advertising and marketing for over 7 years, in which time I have seen many businesses struggle or fail because they don’t understand the concept of a brand. This book would solve that problem for most of those businesses.
Although Expandable Brands is directed at businesses looking to expand and/or franchise, this book explains the concept of branding in a simple yet comprehensive manner that is useful for anyone in business. The author has written this book so that the concept of building a brand for your business (and maintaining its integrity) is easy to understand and implement, even if you don’t have any business or marketing qualifications.
I found Expandable Brands to be a great book, with quality information and the right tools to take away and start implementing into my own work. I've also been able to pass this information on to my clients to help them improve their branding. I highly recommend this book for anyone in business.
Who hasn't thought about opening another location for their business? As soon as I had a business working in London, I wanted to open up in 20+ cities. This book is about expanding your business by duplicating locations... a really powerful topic. I can't believe it's taken so long for a book like this to come along. Thanks!
Expandable Brands is a fantastic, easy to read guide to establishing and growing a brand. Clare guides her readers on a journey of self discovery, asking them to consider a range of critical activities and behaviours that influence the culture of their business and how it's perceived by their customers. I enjoyed Clare's style and her step by step principles, designed to identify key issues for her readers to focus on, with real world examples, cool quotes and practical tips and strategies for business owners to put into action. Expandable Brands provides you the roadmap to growing your business, starting right now. Every business owner should read this at least once.
Do I own a business? Nope. Do I have anything to expand? Nope, again. However, I embody my own brand and here in lies why this book piqued my interest. 20 pages in and I made the decision to quit my job. Dramatic overreaction? Absolutely not. This book gave me the justification that how I felt about my workplace was OK. That how I felt about my position and my future within my workplace was OK. My workplace values didn't align with my brand, the continual inconsistency in visuals and marketing didn't align with my brand and the behaviour didn't align with my brand. Clare's book is simplistic and doesn't require a degree to comprehend the context or the terminology. Every subsection finishes with a 'what can you do'. Let's face it, we all need a little guidance and this will get you on your way. Plus there are stacks of awesome, thought provoking quotes. This book is a great tool that encourages the dissection of your brand to figure out its 'why', without it I would still be somewhat unproductive and disengaged in an unhappy workplace. Thanks Clare!
Expandable Brands is a concise, practical guide to help you grow more than just reputation but the footprint of your business along with your brand's equity. Highly recommend!
I liked the focus on different aspects of branding that people don't typically think about like sound, language, alignment and behavior and that it isn't just about visuals which is what most people think of first. This book clearly enunciates the building blocks of branding and the factors to consider when expanding. A great guide for any business that wants to grow and isn't sure what they need to consider to keep their brand consistent and relevant.
This was a comprehensive, well laid out, and easy to follow book on scaling your brand and public presence.
I received an Advance Reader Copy to review, and am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to go through such quality content. I felt the information was useful, and helpful to me, as someone who helps small and medium businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs build their online brand overall and align it to their strategy. Thanks for sharing this!
I downloaded this book from Story Cartel because I wanted to see there was any information that would help me build my brand as a writer. This book contains a lot of useful information for anyone looking to build their brand, whether they have a online or brick and mortar business.