03 November 2008
The competition in the global business environment is tough, and achieving a unique position and competitive advantage becomes more and mor difficult and expensive. Especially for the small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) that have limited resources to invest in high tech production capabilities or in intensive R&D activities, branding provides an effective answer. Even though SMEs do not compete with the global companies head on, building strong brands would provide them with a sustainable competitive advantage and facilitate not only profitability but also long term growth.
The competition in the global business environment is tough, and achieving a unique position and competitive advantage becomes more and mor difficult and expensive. Especially for the small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) that have limited resources to invest in high tech production capabilities or in intensive R&D activities, branding provides an effective answer. Even though SMEs do not compete with the global companies head on, building strong brands would provide them with a sustainable competitive advantage and facilitate not only profitability but also long term growth.
 
 

Creating Distinction Through Corporate Branding

Global corporations and SMEs alike are increasingly becoming aware of the enhanced value that corporate branding strategies offer them. Branding in the classic sense is all about creating unique identities and positions for products and services hence distinguishing the offerings from competitors. Corporate branding employs the same methodology and toolbox used in product branding, but it also elevates the approach a step further into the board room, where additional issues around stakeholder relations (shareholders, media, competitors, governments and many others) can help the corporation benefit from a strong and well-managed corporate branding strategy.

Not surprisingly, a strong and comprehensive corporate branding strategy that would guide the company into the future requires the direct attention of the top management of the company.

It’s Not Just About Projecting A ‘Look’

Corporate branding is often, but wrongly, referred to as an exercise where the company logo, the design style and colour scheme are changed. Naturally, these are important elements to evaluate and potentially change at a later stage once the strategy has been decided upon. It is often accompanied with a new corporate slogan, and then everyone expects results to occur during the project. Corporate branding is a serious undertaking, which entails more skills and activities than just an updated glossy marketing facade with empty jargon.

A robust corporate brand would allow a company to create a strategic blueprint for the company based on the corporate brand identity. This process would not only differentiate the company in the highly competitive SME industry sector, but also facilitate value addition by allowing the company to charge price premiums and lateral expansion. This focus on creating a corporate brand would also imbibe in the company a culture of aligning innovation and leadership around the overall brand identity.

It Starts From Within

A corporate brand also allows SMEs to motivate and internalize the vision and aspirations of the company with the employees. Hence a corporate branding strategy can enable SMEs to further leverage on its tangible and non-tangible assets, leading to branding excellence throughout the company.

There are thousands of unique corporate brands. Companies like Microsoft, Intel, Singapore Airlines, Disney, CNN, Samsung, Mercedes and many others are good examples to think of. The global financial powerhouses HSBC and Citibank have both in recent years acquired a vast number of companies across the globe and adopted them fully under their international corporate brands with great success and within a surprising short timeframe.

A strong brand is about building and maintaining strong perceptions in the minds of customers. This takes time to establish and many resources to keep, but no one remembers what the local banks used to be called, and HSBC and Citibank have managed to transfer the brand equities from the acquired brands into their own corporate brand equity.

An ancient and famous Indian proverb says: “If you don’t have a goal, how can you know when you have arrived?” In order to establish and grow a corporate brand successfully, the management team has to track and measure the strength of the current corporate brand and the entire brand portfolio. Research can help understand the business landscape in more depth and serves as a foundation for the future corporate brand strategy. Modern research tools have become very sophisticated and at the same time easy to employ. There is no excuse for not trying to get a market and customer driven perspective of the brand portfolio including the corporate brand.

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