Making sure your customers stick with your business is an important step on the road to success and that is why getting your brand right is crucial.

Business Argus asked local businesses and organisations how important branding is to them and what they thought of rebranding...

Dan Langford, group marketing and communications director, Acorn, Newport

In order for a brand to be successful over time it must remain truthful to its customers, it’s employees and the industry in which it does business. It is not simply about the aesthetics of a visual identity, it’s also about messaging and continuing to engage with customers in ways they want and need to be. Above all it is about maintaining relevance and conveying honesty. An effective brand accumulates value over time and that is vital to the positioning of an organisation both in the market generally and the minds of its customers, stakeholders and its own staff. Brands shouldn’t change just to give the impression of being ‘modern’ – changes must add value and be driven by company behaviours, and market developments. Any rebranding should be done with sensitivity, and the rationale and benefits behind the changes should be clearly communicated. At Acorn we believe that good branding principles have reinforced our success over the past 22 years and ensure we continue to maintain competitive advantage - our values have remained the same and we are still a brand that our clients and job seekers continue to trust.

Robin Hall, managing director, Kymin, Newport

Keeping your brand fresh and modern is very important especially in today’s competitive world, effective branding can distinguish the service or product you offer against your peers and help to build loyalty among your customers. The primary goal of marketing a brand is to attract new and retain existing customers but this must go hand in hand with excellent customer service which pulls together all the aspects of how a service and therefore a brand is perceived. I think a brand can become stagnant or left behind its competitors if you don’t move with the times. Although there may be nothing wrong with your brand as such, by updating and refreshing it every now and again can be a good thing. At Kymin we took the opportunity to re-brand just over two years ago which tied in the biggest shake up in our industry with the introduction of the Retail Distribution Review. Over the preceding 20 years we had built up a loyal customer base and a good name in the local area but the brand needed a refresh. We changed our website, all the traditional forms of communications such as brochures and other literature and re-branded our premises. The new branding was also designed around its use with social media and we now have an effective campaign tying in with traditional marketing on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Pete Seymour, Director, Seymour Creative, Newport

For me, the question is more about whether your brand identity is aligned with your business strategy rather than being it fresh or modern. So does it reflect your company ethos, and refer to why your customers should choose you over a competitor. Companies often confuse factors like being professional and good to deal with as differentiators. But these are mandatory, better to find out what you do really well and tell everyone about it. This is where great brand identities are forged. Based upon business strategy, then expressed through an identity consistently across all customer touchpoints. Focus on the great, and deliver it consistently. Of course, you have to deliver on this promise otherwise it all falls down at the first hurdle.

James Norvill, CEO, GD Environmental, Newport

Brand management is essential to maintaining and protecting our reputation for high-quality service. Over the years, GD has worked hard to develop a distinguishable and easily recognisable trademark and has characterised its vehicles, tankers, skips and wheelie-bins in our signature colour, red. It is equally important for our employees to feel connected with our brand. Our customer-facing work-force wear branded uniforms which help to develop a sense of pride and team spirit amongst employees whilst ensuring our brand is easily recognised by our customers. Our website adopts a contemporary stance and all of our core values and products are reflected in our logo. The GD logo, made up of multiple service icons, is crucial to creating a memorable brand impression.

Peter Lewis, managing director, Industrial Automated Controls Ltd, Newport

Brand image is increasingly important to any sustainable company. It is important to maintain the values and principles which the company holds important, but it is also necessary to keep up to date with the way that image is portrayed. Any branding change can be seen to be an opportunity to get the company name back in front of as many customers (new and old) as possible. However, if the new image, logo, or makeover doesn’t actually look the part, it can have a huge detrimental effect.

Many well established companies have been successful in maintaining the traditional image of the company, while staying in line with modern thinking. Traditionalism can also be in or out of fashion, but quality and excellence are hard to keep down. If a company has a brand image for producing top level product, or is seen to be ethically correct, then it would be foolish to try and deviate from this. On the other hand, a company renowned for producing cheap, budget goods finds it extremely hard to shake off that image, irrespective of what the current quality of product has become. Skoda has been wrestling with this problem for many years and still haven’t been completely successful. I think the trick is to tinker with images, but not with the fundamental characteristics of the organisation. In my view the most important thing a company board has to do is maintain the core values and make sure that they are ethically correct and open to the market for scrutiny.

Gareth Waters, BrandNuCreative Ltd, Cwmbran

Whenever we take on a rebrand project, it’s important for us that we talk to the client and find out exactly why a rebrand is necessary, because established companies need to protect the equity they have already created around their brand. For example, if a company needs to reposition itself in the market, or their company name no longer fits with who they are, then a well researched rebrand can help build brand awareness and appeal to a new customer base.

John Newell, Kingston Newell Estate Agents, Newport

I bought Kingstons Estate Agents five years ago. The company was a well-known and respected Newport business with a good reputation. It was important to maintain this association with the old company but to also refresh the brand hence the rebrand to Kingston Newell and develop a new visual identity. The new rebrand also needed to address the evolution of the estate agency industry with the visual aspects being able to be used in both traditional and digital marketing campaigns. It needed roadside impact in terms of the For Sale signs you see around the city and to also stand out on the website and in particular on the portals both buyers and sellers use. The brand is quite often the first impression a potential customers has of your business and it does need to reflect the business professionally therefore it is very important to keep your brand fresh and modern.

Liz Andrews, director, Cancer Research Wales

We believe it is important to have a brand which reflects our charity and the trust and support which we receive from the people of Wales. We have recently updated our branding and we spent time looking at what makes Cancer Research Wales special to all of our wonderful supporters. And it come down to the cutting edge cancer research which we are funding at Welsh hospitals and universities; this inspires hope for so many. It’s a tall order, but we wanted our visual branding – this in future will include our Newport shop on Caerleon Road - to represent all of this and I feel we have succeeded. As a charity, it is vital that we remain visible and demonstrate to the public what our charity represents, while always being mindful of the balance between remaining very visible to those who may choose to support us and the investment that goes into that.

Nick Park, director, Green & Co Accountants and Tax Advisors, Cwmbran

Marketing is very important to us and the seven years we have spent building our brand has played an integral part of who we are today. We also help clients with brand development issues based on our experience. If it is important for your business to have a brand then it is very important to keep it fresh and up to date. While we believe consistency is key when branding a company, we also understand how crucial it is to keep moving forward with the times. We are currently in the process of revamping our brand guidelines in attempt to keep modern and fresh. We will be launching this very soon, so keep your eyes peeled.

Clive Thomas, managing partner at Watkins & Gunn Solicitors

There is great value in your brand and you don't want to damage that by changing it too regularly. However, it can easily become tired if you neglect it. So a balance is key to keep your brand fresh and interesting. I think an independent review every two years or so is a good idea as you are often the worst judge of your brand’s impact.