The Office Power (part of the EO Group, a Stationers’ Corporate Member,  and sister company of Euroffice) are experts in the office products market .  They recently issued the following piece on Branding and as you will see it has nuggets of information, ideas and interest for anyone, regardless of their industry sector.

The importance of branding for office supplies dealers

A strong brand is derived from who you are, what your company stands for and how your customers perceive you. It might not seem important for a small office supplies business, however, when it comes to your business’ equity value, a strong brand is second in importance only to your financial performance.

In today’s competitive market where everything is available at a click of a mouse, it’s important that you can compete not only on price. Effective branding will allow you to have better management of your margin and avoid the race to the bottom. It is also extremely important in generating loyalty among your customer base as it creates feelings of familiarity and trust. It allows for associations to be made by the customers between the brand and the history of quality and customer service the business has achieved in the past.

The one key differentiator local office supplies dealers have from the big players is the strong local and personal relationships with your customers, but be aware who those customer relationships are being created with - is it the brand or individual members of your sales team? And what may happen if that person leaves? Will the customer still stay loyal to the brand? A strong brand will help keep and strengthen those relationships.

There are various things office supplies dealers can do to create a strong brand for their business. First of all, a well-branded website is extremely important as it’s the ‘shop-window’ of today’s office supplies dealer. A good website will help you differentiate your brand from your competitors as well as ensure your customers can easily find you online. According to the latest industry research office supplies buyers use online searches as their primary method for office product search, in fact as many as 73%; so you have to ensure that your customers can find your brand through the channels they use, rather than the channels you have historically used or are most comfortable with.  Secondly, avoid any brand-sharing initiatives unless the co-brand does not detract from the ‘ownership’ of the customer and adds significant value to your brand image through the association. Inappropriate co-branding can put you in danger of diluting your brand identity and confusing your customers. And finally have a strong brand strategy that incorporates brand awareness and engagement initiatives. This should include strong and consistent branding across all marketing channels – from print to email, from web to telemarketing, from catalogue to social media.

A great example of an Office Power partner who has been taking its brand from strength to strength is Just Office. Consistent investment and time spent on building their brand means that not only have they acquired new customers but retained some since the day they first set up the company. Just Office has successfully created a strong local brand through their functional branded website, both email and print marketing, as well as a strong presence on social media. Consistent branding and messaging helps create effective awareness and engagement for the customers as they move from one channel to another.

When planning your brand strategy, start with defining why your brand exists, what it represents and what value you bring to your customers. Clarity on who you are and what your brand represents will help you shape your brand framework and communicate with your customers in an authentic way. Identifying and living your core values will help you tell your brand story with its unique personality and tone of voice through every touchpoint.

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