As the owner of a small or medium enterprise, you want your brand to stay alive and differentiated from the rest. Building and sustaining a distinct standing for your brand is no easy task, given the number of start-ups that close their doors every year (nearly half of all, in India). In the face of stiff competition, young brands often hit the ground running – and are forced to evolve to stay ahead of the game, even before they put down their roots.
A strong brand presence is ultimately the result of a well-thought-out corporate strategy. A lot of SMEs however – in their rush to keep pace with competition – put the “strategic” bit on the back-burner, and simply make their decisions on the fly. Here are some common mistakes SMEs make that could cost their brand dearly.
Not investing in branding
First, the basics. Your “brand” and “branding” are two different things. While your brand is your company’s number 1 asset, branding is the process that draws out its purpose and differentiates it from similar players in the market. Branding is an extensive exercise – one that usually calls for expert involvement, and is often overlooked.
It is one thing to invest in creating a brand identity for your SME, but without branding, your brand is nothing more than a tool without a task.
Lackluster presence on social media
As baby boomers turn tech-savvy and millennials flock to the work stream, it makes perfect sense to look at social media as an important tool to promote your brand. Social media is all about keeping it fresh and exciting, and a young company fits snugly into this model.
Of course, with great power comes great responsibility. Companies often make the mistake of either being completely inactive on their social media pages, or blindly posting/re-posting updates that carry no value to followers. Remember, social media is all about starting a conversation, and the right posts are the ones that are timed perfectly, and which keep your users engaged and active.
Playing it safe with millennials
They are currently the largest generation in your workforce, and are very well set to be your leading customer group by 2017. So, it’s imperative to consider millennials in all aspects of your corporate plan – as brand ambassadors, decision-makers, employees or consumers.
A generation of paradoxes, engaging millennials calls for a leap from the known and the comfortable. Decades of tried-and-tested strategies probably will not do the trick. With millennials, it’s a safer bet to think unconventional – and stray off the beaten track.
Not investing/over-investing in your website
Given their newfound success on social media, many SMEs choose to dismiss the need to have a dedicated corporate website. But as a company grows, it looks to broaden its consumer-base and attract new investors. And soon enough, factors like content- and feature-control come into demand. Here’s when having an independent website is bound to help.
Your company website should vouch for your credibility. It needs to be strong on two things: user-experience and content. It’s a waste to spend all that money on a snazzy webpage, if it is ridden with technical glitches; the content is outdated; and most importantly, it does not provide the information your consumers or investors are interested in.
Not involving employees in your strategy
In the internet era, every employee is your spokesperson; the face and soul of your company. Rightly so, keeping employees informed of where your business is headed makes them feel involved in the journey, and helps them to align their goals, priorities and activities to this vision.
At first glance, employee engagement may seem like HR-talk, which is why many SMEs disregard it during their growth phase. However, there are proven links between employee engagement and customer experience – which makes it very much in your interests to have your employees up to date on your business decisions.
Kicking CSR to the curb
As a young enterprise, you may often be tempted to turn a blind eye to CSR. After all, as a policy adoption, over 8,000 large corporates in India are already doing their bit for the community.
Here’s where you are off-track. Committing to a social cause may not seem essential, particularly when you have pressing business matters to deal with. But it most likely matters to your stakeholders. How you give back to the community impacts your own brand identity and its long-term sustainability. Companies today are increasingly creating value for themselves through their CSR activities, which is why it is integral for CSR to be ingrained in your corporate culture.