This week's UIB Business of the Week is Clear & Creative, SME branding agency“Most small businesses hugely undersell themselves”, says Simon Gregory, OUFC fan and creative director at Clear & Creative, the branding agency for SMEs.
“When you set up a small business there’s a lot to learn and most of your time is spent simply finding and serving customers. Big firms have entire sales and marketing departments, but that’s a luxury most small business owners can’t afford.”
And according to Simon, that can lead to all kinds of problems.
“Nobody can be an expert in everything”, he says. “When you start a company it’s usually because you’re an expert at what you do - actually making the product or delivering the service. So when you’re setting up and short on cash you tend to go for DIY solutions: designing your own logo, building your own website and placing your own ads - or getting a mate who’s ‘good with computers’ to do it for you.”
Why is that so bad?
“It can be fine at the start, when you’re working out of your back bedroom or garage, but there are plenty of firms that have grown slowly over the years and are now in a great position to handle higher-value contracts - yet are still using the basic logo, weak messages and graphics their daughter knocked up in Word Art on her PC.
“They don’t realise the negative perceptions of poor marketing communications. We call it ‘Accidental Branding’. A lot of firms are baffled when they continually lose work to higher-priced competitors with lower-quality products. They often have no clue how to communicate their value and cut prices out of desperation. Sadly, this can then lead to prospective customers losing confidence in their ability to deliver.”
So is it just about the way they look?
“Partly, but messages are very important. The biggest issue is when they don’t understand their customers’ needs. They talk about what they sell rather than how that solves their customers’ problem. Companies that understand their clients’ problems then sell solutions rather than just products, outsell their competitors and attract higher-value customers. And when your image is beautifully designed and your messages skilfully communicated, it’s actually a no-brainer for people to do business with you. You become their only logical choice.”
Clear & Creative recently handled the branding and website for UIB member Family First Solicitors. “They continually thank me for talking them out of doing their own website. They hit the ground running as soon as they opened and have grown steadily.”
So how can you help?
“We’ve put together the Brand Clarity Workbook - a set of exercises for SMEs to work through as the first step towards building a unique, authentic and compelling brand.”
Download the free booklet from www.clearandcreative.co.uk
Phone: 01865 204200