Branding is one of the thingsÂ small businessesÂ need the most, but don’t likeÂ to think about. Both itsÂ necessity and intimidation factorÂ stem from the fact that it’s such an overarching concept. Branding yourself or your company isÂ a challenging undertaking that requires introspection,Â research, and planning.
Because it’s such a comprehensive process,Â it’s often a very confusing one.Â In the interest of demystifying the art of identity, today we’ll take a closer look at why you need a brand.
What is a Brand?
First let’s start by talking about what a brand actually is. It’s a common term. We all understand what it means in a general sort of way. But when it’s time to apply it to ourselves, that’s when it suddenly becomes hard to explain.
In a nutshell; a brand is your company image, customer perception, and market relevancy.Â It’s how your company looks, what people think of it, and howÂ it’s unique.Â Okay that’s a walnut shell, but it’s still the short version. Let’s expand on this a little.
A brand’s not one thing, but the sum of many parts. It’s not your logo, your color palette, fonts,Â or marketing. It includes those things, but a brand is something more than the individual pieces that comprise it. It’s the positive image,Â consumer value, and market advantage those elementsÂ contribute to.
A brand is the way customers perceive your company as well as how they experience it. It’s the promise you make to the consumer, the value you offer that differentiates you from the competition, and the way you convey that value. It’s your image, your story, your message. Defining a brand is about understanding, crafting, and managing all of these things.
A brand is composed of two main pillars: the tangible and intangible. The tangible aspects are things like your logo, color palette, typography, basically anything that has to do with your businessÂ image. The intangibleÂ elements are things like your core values, mission statement, voice and tone etc., things that describe purpose and intent, and inform the tangible look and feel of your brand.
Now that we have a better understanding of what a brand is, let’s look at why you need one. Following are some of the primary benefits of a brand.
It Sets You Apart From The Competition
This is one of the fundamental responsibilitiesÂ of branding. It actually involves some of the following points as well but I’ll summarize it here first.
The need to stand out in crowded markets is obvious. A brand is yourÂ identity in the crowd. It’s your unique voice among all the noise. It conveys your values and offers potential customers that all importantÂ incentive to do business with you vs. the nearest competitor.
Technically your products and services do this, but your brand is how people are introduced to them. In commerce perception is reality, so how your customersÂ perceive you before they do business with you really matters.
YourÂ visual identity (theÂ tangible side of things)Â establishes a unique look and feel. It stakes your claim in the visual space of theÂ marketplace. Your messaging meanwhile, is aimed atÂ your particular audience and helps them to understand why they should choose you. Both of these things should speak to the needs of yourÂ ideal customer in ways that elevate you above the competition.
In addition to being more persuasive, a goodÂ brand also looks and feels more professional, which is another way it can help you stand out from the clutter of weaker ones.
It Helps Customers Remember You
Brand retention is a big deal.Â Your company’s message and value proposition need to beÂ reinforced in the minds of yourÂ customers over time. The speed and effectiveness of this process is greatly increased byÂ the consistency and repetition that occurs as a result of good branding.
By establishingÂ your brand, you focus your message and image. By defining what you are, you eliminate what you are not. As your company’s characteristicsÂ emerge into a cohesive brand, the result is a clearer message, communicated more consistently. The result: better brandÂ recognition andÂ retentionÂ over time.
Consistency itself is very important. It’s one of the primary benefits of a solid brand. It’s also one of the things lacking from most small business identities. ConsistencyÂ lends a sense of establishment, trust, and credibility. It makes your brand more recognizable across all marketing channels and touchpoints, making it far easier to remember.
ItÂ Makes Your Company More Likeable
The best brands not only know how to sell their product or service, but instill a genuine appreciation and evenÂ affection in the hearts and minds of their customers. Brand loyalty means a customer is willing to pay a higher premium, of time, money, or difficultyÂ in order to interact with a company or obtain a product they receive a greaterÂ sense of personal satisfaction from.
In some cases the actual product may be indistinguishable from another company’s, but being attached to aÂ lovable brand enhances its value in the eyes of the consumer.
Remember that how your customers experience what you offer is a big part of your brand. Whether it’s a specificÂ product or service or a branded environment like a store or website, the experience matters. Making the consumer interactionÂ as pleasant as possible at every stage and in every way possible helps make yourÂ brand appealing.
Branding is about understanding and refining the consumer experience at every level, making sure the customer interactionÂ is as positiveÂ as possible. Good brands delight their audiences in ways that transcend their products and services.
ItÂ Creates and Enhances Value
Value, like branding, can be a vague term. It can refer to something specific like price, but in the case of branding, most often refers to an intangible characteristicÂ that makes your company more appealing to a customer. You have to offer something that your target audience wants, that your competition simply doesn’t have. Whatever itÂ is, that’sÂ value.
Good branding is all about creating and communicating this kind of value. Finding it. Defining it. Enhancing it. Value should be innate to your products and services but the perception and fulfillment thereof contribute their own kind of value as well.
In crafting the individual voice of your business, aÂ thorough branding process will not only define existing benefitsÂ but explore what makes themÂ truly unique. Additionally it determines how this (x factor) isÂ communicated to the client.
Branding is a process of self evaluation. It eliminates assumption and forces us to analyze our place in any given market. As we evaluate our offering, weÂ adjust it to better meet the needs of our target audience and hone our marketing for greater precision and clarity. In order to be competitive, specifying and communicating value becomes a primary objective of branding.
It Helps You Find Your Passion
A good brand is a passionate one. It’s hard to convinceÂ your audienceÂ to love your brand if you yourself are lukewarm about it. Your brandÂ should bring you as much fulfillment and satisfaction as it does your customers. If you love what you do, your brand will reflect it. Being passionate about the uniqueÂ value you bring to the marketplace makesÂ the kind of difference that your customers can see.
Over time it’s easy to lose sight of what motivates you. Good branding can invigorate your company by clarifying your sense of professional purpose. In the same way a brand sheds light onÂ your value proposition, it will also speak to your personal ambition within the marketplace.
Carving out your niche is part of what branding is all about. While you always have to fulfill a specific demand, that particular need and howÂ you meet itÂ is unique to you. A good brand will reflect the individual qualities you bring to your industry.
Let’s Get Branding
Now that we’re brand experts, let’s talk about yours. Whether you’re up for a complete overhaul, or just need to fine tune a fewÂ things. I can assess your brand and we can talk about where to go from here. I offer consultation and brand audits that can illuminate the issues at hand and lay the groundwork for the future.