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Branding is important for apparel SMEs: UK expert
May '12
Mr. Paul Hitchens
Mr. Paul Hitchens
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs), including those in the apparel sector, need to take branding seriously to sustain their businesses in a competitive market, according to an expert.

In the absence of any knowledge about the company, people tend to judge a firm solely on appearance, says Paul Hitchens, author of “Create the Perfect Brand”.

Speaking to fibre2fashion, Mr. Hitchens, who is also the founder of verve.co.uk, said, “If a potential audience knows nothing about a company then appearances will be all they have to judge the organization by.”

It is important for every business to take its brand seriously or they may repel or fail to attract potential new customers. “As the old saying goes, 'you don't get a second chance to make a first impression'. A poorly branded company will not get the opportunity to prove how good its products and services are, if its presentation and attitude put off potential customers at first sight,” says Mr. Hitchens.

In terms of branding, large and small companies differ in terms of touchpoints. A touchpoint is any interaction or engagement between the brand and its audience. At each touchpoint, the brand is put to the test and judged against its promise.

“It is easier to manage the brand of a smaller company as there are less touchpoints. The challenge for a growing organization is to manage the brand carefully so that all staff and suppliers understand their role in fulfilling the brand's promise. Poor customer service can fatally wound the bond between customer and brand,” according to Mr. Hitchens.

His advice for apparel SMEs interested in building their brand: “Think and behave differently and offer relevance to your customers. Investing in your brand is investing in your people.”

Elaborating on the importance of branding, he says, “A brand strategy adds vitality and drive to a business. The brand is a company's raison d'être.”

“Social media tools such as blogs, twitter, facebook, YouTube, etc. are all powerful tools for engagement, but a company should never lose sight of the brands vision and values. It is important to have a defined brand strategy for social media. But, make sure that what you are doing adds something of value to the brand and is relevant to your audience,” he advises apparel SMEs.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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