Branding and Value Propositions Demystified

Now that you’ve identified your company’s values, its mission and your vision for its future – it is time to define your brand and develop your value proposition.

But first, here’s a quick review of terms to make sure we’re all on the same page before we get into why defining your brand and developing a value proposition will help you market and grow your business.

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Brand: also known as a ‘brand name’ is any word, design, sound, shape, or colour, or combination of these used to distinguish a seller’s goods or services from its competitors in the eyes of the customer.

Branding: the term ‘branding’ was first associated with cattle ranchers burning a mark on steer so that a rancher could identify his steer from those owned by another rancher. Branding products and services keeps with this principle; a company burns its brand image in the minds of consumers.

Brand Essence: the values, emotions and core elements used to describe a brand to consumers.

Brand Equity: this is the evidence that a brand (or words/design) used to distinguish a company’s products is strong. It is the added value a brand name gives to a product beyond the functional benefits provided. Think Coca Cola, Nike, eBay etc. Having strong brand equity usually means:
* a company can charge higher prices because it has higher perceived quality,
* it will give a company more trade leverage with distributors and retailers,
* it can reduce marketing costs because of an already high level of consumer brand awareness and loyalty.

Brand Identity: brings together the brand pillars for the company. Brand pillars include values, mission, positioning, voice, tone, look and feel. Together these create a story and set of rules for what a band is (and is not).

Brand Image: how a brand is perceived by the public. For example, companies like Apple, Ben and Jerry’s and The Body Shop have strong brands that are linked to innovation and social responsibility.

Brand Personality: is the personification of a brand by expressing its qualities as human qualities. Companies do this because the position of a product or service is strengthened when it is personified. It is especially useful if there is a close competing product or service because this may be the key element that differentiates your item from its competitors.

Values: these are operating principles that guide a company both internally and externally. Core values are usually summarised in the company’s mission statement.

Value Proposition: is a brief and simple statement that explains all of the benefits that will be delivered to the customer. These benefits might be qualitative (example customer experience) or quantitative (example price). Elements that contribute to creating value for customers include:
* Cost Reduction
* Customisation
* Design
* Performance
* Price.

Defining your Brand:

To help you figure out the basics of your brand answer these simple questions:
* What is your company’s mission?
* What qualities do you want customers to associate with your company?
* What benefits and features are you offering?
* What words do you use to distinguish yourself from the competion?
* What colours, design, sound or shapes describe your company?

Value Propositions made Simple:

ValuePropdraftValue propositions are important to clarify at the start of any marketing activity because a product or service with a strong value proposition is directly linked to actual and sustained sales performance.  If you can’t put into word’s why you’re so special then you will struggle to sell yourself to customers.  To be able to understand why you are so special, you should have also defined your brand before going into why it is the absolute best choice on the market to customers.

Here are some popular value proposition examples from technology brands you know (and might even already love!):
* Bitly: Shorten. Share. Measure.
* MacBook: Light. Years ahead.
* MailChimp: Send Better Emails.
* Skype: Skype keeps the world talking for free. Share, message and call – now with group video on mobile and tablet too.
* Weebly: The Easiest Way to Make a Website.

Drafting a value proposition might seem overwhelming at first but you can work through a few basic questions to get started:
* Are you solving an urgent problem?
* Is there currently a lack of viable solutions to this problem on the market?
* Is the problem you’re solving unavoidable?

Warning: many entrepreneurs at this point focus on the benefits they can provide but completely overlook the fact that their product might have a high learning curve and actually initially be hard for a customer to set-up. If customers think that what you have is just too difficult or risky they may just buy from the competition instead. So always consider your gain/pain aspect when producing your value proposition.

There are some good books centred on value proposition development as well as free online templates to help you craft a value proposition that will work for your business or its products.  A list of seven popular value proposition templates can be used online for free here.