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Are you investing enough in building your brand?

“Your brand is the future cash flow of your business.” So says Tim Ambler, arguably Britain’s greatest marketer.

A strong brand enables you to charge more for your products and services, ride out economic downturns and attract higher quality clients and staff. Yet, many businesses ignore the importance of building their brand for the long term, in favour of focusing on short term sales.

Of course, short term sales are vital, but unless you invest in making your business more visible, relevant and attractive to more people, it will struggle to grow.

“Simples” as your average marketing meerkat would say.

So, what do we mean by a strong brand?

A strong brand is one that stands out from the competition. One that is instantly recognisable, emotionally engaging and highly desirable to its target audience. It requires creativity, consistency and courage to build a brand that does not blend in blandly with others in the same sector. Getting attention is the starting point of the customer journey. If you don’t get noticed, you will get lost.

We build strong brands by helping you define your strategy, story and style. By creating a distinctive identity with the design of your logo, your choice of colours, photos and graphics. Plus the messages and language you use to describe what you do and why it matters. We help you apply these to everything you say and do – online, offline and face to face. So that all of this works together to create a positive reputation and positive associations for your business, among as many of your target audience as possible.

So, how much should you invest in building your brand?

Fortunately, leading researchers Les Binet and Peter Field have explored this in depth, examining the fortunes of thousands of brands to ascertain an answer. They recommend you invest 60% of your marketing budget in building your brand. You do this through marketing communications that have a broad reach, and are “designed to create associations, memories and beliefs that will pre-dispose potential customers to choose one brand over another.” It’s a long term game, designed to build future prospects and sales, in six months’ time and beyond.

The other 40% of your budget should go on short term communications designed to make immediate sales. These communications work on people who already know about you and are warm to you. Sales activation is about tightly targeted, rational and persuasive messages, aimed at people who are ready to buy now. In our experience, many businesses are largely or exclusively focused on short term sales. They are not creating the necessary conditions to ensure long term growth, as opposed to short term survival.

How big should your marketing budget be in the first place?

It’s hard to generalise. Different sized businesses in different sectors and at a different stages of their life cycle have different requirements. However, several large scale surveys of marketing managers indicate that a significant proportion of businesses spend around 7-10% of their revenues on marketing.

If those figures feel a bit scary, keep in mind that if you’re spending less on marketing than your competitors, they’re likely to grow their market share at your expense.

If that’s a scenario you’d rather avoid, give us a call .