Branding is a marketing strategy in which an identity is carefully constructed for your company, organization, business, product or service. Simply put, “a brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s goods or services as distinct from those of other sellers.” – American Marketing Association
This allows you to influence how your business is perceived before others have a chance to define your business for you. When you go through the process of branding your company you are making a promise to the customer. This “promise” is a declaration of who you are, what you believe, and why you’re the right option.
If you think of brands like: Apple, Nike, or Google, are there certain colors, feelings, images or symbols that come to mind? That’s because each of these companies have carefully developed a brand that is unique and memorable (in its own right). And because of that, these businesses have flourished and have become trusted dependable brands.
“Define what your brand stands for, its core values and tone of voice, and then communicate consistently in those terms.” – Simon Mainwaring
Branding is a crucial part of building a successful business. Once you establish your brand you will be able to increase the value of your company, drive your target audience, and increase sales. Ultimately, it’s a true representation of what your business is, what it stands for, and most importantly, how you want others to perceive it.
There are several reasons why branding is important for your business, regardless if you’re a small startup or a giant corporation.
Tells Your Story
In an interview with Forbes, Jennifer Kem, creator of the Master Brand Method, emphasizes the significance of branding your business. She states that at the end of the day, people won’t care about your product unless you illustrate why it should matter to them. In the end, it’s your brand that tells them that your products or services matter. According to Kem you convert the public into customers with “emotion-driven” marketing. And what better way to drive emotion then through stories?
Every brand has a story, and it’s usually the first thing people want to know about your business. Storytelling is a known tool used to form connections and make us feel something. Your brand story should illustrate your core values and the message you want your company to convey. If your story is contradictory to how you define yourself, you risk confusing consumers and driving them away. By cultivating a compelling brand story that is authentic and true, you will attract your ideal audience and distinguish yourself from competitors.
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” – Seth Godin
Creates Trust & Credibility
Trust is an extremely integral component to owning a business. It’s very difficult for a business to be successful without it. If there’s no trust between your company and the consumer then you risk losing customers to your competition.
“Trust is the most critical component in building and maintaining a strong, emotionally driven and enduring brand. However, in a world of promotion-driven-marketing tactics, many brand owners forget that building trust is the only thing holding the relationship with the customer together.” – Branding Strategy Insider
Without trust there is no relationship between your business and your audience. And without trust, you lose credibility as a business. When you establish credibility and legitimacy people will feel inclined to trust your brand, product(s) or services.
Develops Brand Recognition
One of the main accomplishments of branding your business is developing recognition. When someone sees your logo, for example, it should click in their minds that that logo belongs to your company. Maintaining a consistent, easily identifiable brand allows people to feel comfortable purchasing your products or services. Recognition creates familiarity, and people are a lot more likely to purchase from a familiar company than one that is not known to them.
As highlighted by Articulate Marketing, “Brand recognition is a rapid process… consumers only buy from a small repertoire of brands, and the average customer spends 13 seconds purchasing those branded items in store. In other words, when your customer scans the shelves, they reach for what’s familiar and they do it fast. This is known as ‘instinct buying’.”
Sets You Apart from Your Competition
By building recognition, you in turn develop distinguishability. By having a clear identity for your brand and all that it encompasses you begin to set yourself apart from the competition. You develop a reputation for quality products and services. With so many other businesses and companies possibly offering the same services, having a unique brand that is noticeably yours helps attract and retain your clientele.
“The most obvious example of this is Coke vs. a generic soda. Because Coca-Cola has built a powerful brand equity, it can charge more for its product–and customers will pay that higher price.”– Entrepreneur
According to Entrepreneur, consistent, strategic branding grows the value of your company. Which then increases the value of your products and services and in turn allows you to charge more for your brand. An unbranded company selling identical products is favored less than the branded company because it’s no longer just about the product, but about the “name” associated with that product.
Creates Clarity and Focus Within the Company
Branding isn’t only about making the public understand who you are and what you do. It’s also a way to create clarity and focus for your employees, team members, and even yourself. It allows you to follow certain guidelines in order to remain consistent in your brand outlook and perception. Branding affects everything from your website to your logo, to the fonts you use and will use consistently, to approved images. This lets customers know what to expect from you.
Brand guidelines are usually created to compact all the dos/don’ts, and all information related to your brand. You can find examples of brand guidelines, here.
Through this, you and your staff know what visuals are preferred, what fonts to use, how the logo can and can’t be placed or altered, what the brand stands for and represents, what colors to use in marketing and in creating other business related materials, and so forth… It allows you to remain consistent, so that you remain recognizable and you maintain that trust.
As a result, branding also generates employee pride and satisfaction. “When an employee works for a strongly branded company and truly stands behind the brand, they will be more satisfied with their job, be more productive, and have a higher degree of pride in the work that they do. Working for a brand that is reputable and help in high regard amongst the public makes working for that company more enjoyable and fulfilling.”– Brandingmag
When to Start Branding Your Company?
According to Sprucerd the ideal time to begin the branding process is as soon as you establish a business. Admittedly, it seems like a contradicting idea (depending on the industry and business) since brand marketing is an investment. However, it’s still considered an essential early step. By having an established brand, you attract your ideal customer which in of itself generates sales and revenue. So, if you don’t want to waste any time, it’s highly recommended to invest in quality branding as soon as possible. By doing so you to define your business before the public inevitably does that for you; which can lead to misinterpretation or being perceived differently than you intended.
This can be difficult if you have a small business, but there are more affordable options for developing your brand even if you don’t have enough funds yet to do the whole spiel.
Depending on the product and service of your business you may think that sales require more focus than building a brand. Because, well, sales generate income. However, it’s important to balance the two early on as one does not typically work without the other. Of course, as mentioned previously this depends on the type of business.
An example of the significance and power of branding is, Starbucks. In its infancy, Starbucks was just a small, independently owned coffee shop in Seattle. It wasn’t until it cultivated its globally recognized brand, creating spaces in which people can connect in a comfortable cozy environment, that Starbucks became big.
Regardless of your financial situation at the start, it’s important to remember that building a personal brand isn’t a race and it doesn’t happen overnight. Still, it’s a pivotal step in the right direction for building a successful flourishing business.
“Don’t aim for perfection early on. Instead allow your brand to evolve naturally over time and focus on providing massive value and over deliver to your target audience. Then you will get clearer over your message and brand as well. Always remember that!” – Navid Moazzez