You’ve probably heard of major companies like Disney, Facebook, and Amazon. What do all of these companies have in common? The answer is simple: they understand the importance of branding.
They weren’t always big names in the business world, but they were able to grow into the titans they are today because they understood why branding is important from an early stage. Each of these companies has taken calculated steps to build up its brand so people immediately recognize them.
What Is Branding, Exactly?
Before we look at how branding helps a business, it’s worth reviewing what the term actually means.
Branding is a combination of marketing and business strategies that help people think about a company, a product, or a person in a particular way.
For example, Apple is a technology company that wants to appeal to creators. To do that, it brands itself with creative ads and inspirational marketing campaigns, such as its “Think Different” campaign.
The net result is that when people think of Apple, they don’t just think of a technology company. They think of a company that will help them bring their creative visions to life.
The Importance of Branding to Your Business
If you own a small or medium-sized business, focusing on your brand is as essential to the success and growth of your business as it is to Disney, Amazon, and Facebook. Here are six reasons why having a strong brand is valuable.
- Promotes Recognition
- Separates You From Your Competitors
- Defines Your Company
- Generates Positive Reviews and Referrals
- Helps Connect with Customers on a Deeper Level
- Makes it Easy to Introduce New Products
1. Promotes Recognition
If you’re just starting or having trouble getting noticed, the right branding can help you stand out from your competitors and keep you top-of-mind with your customers and potential customers.
So, how do you get people to notice your business? First, start with brand consistency. Develop a brand style guide that includes:
- Brand Position
- Brand Voice
Be sure to include your Unique Value Proposition, Tagline, and Mission, so everyone on your team is on the same page.
Then consider your website experience. Is your website user-friendly? Is it consistent with your branding? Your message and style need to remain consistent to eliminate confusion with your customers.
Create an online experience that provides quick load time, easy access to informative content, and consistent messaging to attract and retain customers. You want them to remember you and not your competitor.
Remember, your branding needs to remain uniform across the board. Whether you’re creating a social media page, a new web page, or a sales brochure, your brand style guide must be followed to easily recognize your brand.
2. Separates You from Competitors
Regardless of your industry, you always need to consider your competitors and what you can do to set your business apart. With the right branding, this can be achieved.
Take Amazon, for example. This online distribution pioneer has revolutionized the way goods are bought and sold, all because they have one of the most easily recognizable brands. Their logo is easily identifiable, and your expectations of services and products have been set. Also, because of their strong branding, other sites that operate like Amazon, such as Overstock and eBay, have taken a back seat these past few years.
If you want to create a strong brand that sets you apart from your competitors, begin with creating an easily recognizable logo. You want it to be distinct and resonate with your target audience right when they see it. Make sure it’s completely different from your competitors as well, even if that means thinking outside the box.
3. Defines Your Company
Your potential customers are in search of a business to provide a specific product or service. Thanks to the Internet, they will have a ton of options to choose from, and it’s your job to make their decision an easy one.
Let your audience know who you are, what you do, and what to expect when doing business with your company. Branding goes beyond a catchy phrase or logo. It incorporates much more, including your company’s culture, customer service, and mission statement. When these branding elements align, consumers can better understand your company and feel more confident when doing business with you.
4. Generates Positive Reviews and Referrals
The key to any successful business is gathering as many customer referrals as possible. Why? Because nowadays, people rely on customer reviews and referrals when selecting who’s going to get their business. The better the reviews, the better chance you have of gaining more customers and the stronger your brand will become. Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth.
If you’re having trouble getting online reviews, develop a review campaign. Request reviews from happy customers and direct them to places like Google My Business, Yelp, or Facebook. If you’re dealing with some negative reviews, try addressing them professionally online and ask to take it offline to rectify the problem. Talking to unsatisfied customers about their experience can sometimes change a bad opinion to a positive one. Excellent customer service can make or break your business, so make sure it’s emphasized in your company culture.
5. Helps Connect with Customers on a Deeper Level
Most popular brands try to connect with people on a deeper level, tapping into their emotions and creating a lasting impression that often compels action from consumers.
For example, marketing your brand as a revolutionary movement intended to better the world probably will be more effective compared to a brand just promoting a product. That’s because the former method tries to get people connected to something bigger than themselves. The more emotional you can get consumers when thinking about your brand, the greater chance you have of turning them into life-long customers.
The entire process of purchasing a product is emotional. Consumers feel like a product will make their lives better in some way. Establishing a strong brand helps you engage in these emotional purchases, making people feel good overall.
6. Make it Easy to Introduce New Products
Once you’ve reached a point where your audience is familiar with your company and brand, introducing new products is much easier. You’ve built trust with your customers, and they know what to expect when doing business with your company. Just make sure the quality and experience of those products remain the same or get better. You don’t want to break the trust and reputation you’ve worked hard to build.
No matter what type of company you have, it won’t be successful unless you have a brand that people know and trust. Creating or revamping a strong brand won’t happen overnight, but the more time and energy you put into it, the more successful your company will be and the more customers you can ultimately reach.
What to Do If You’re Just Starting Out
Maybe you’re not just wondering, “how does branding help a business?” But you’re also curious about how to start one. If so, here are some steps you can take to create your own brand from scratch.
Choose a Target Audience
The first thing you want to do is figure out who you’re trying to reach with the brand that you eventually create. You should have this information crystalized before moving forward because it’ll impact the rest of the process.
At this stage, it’s a good idea to focus on archetypes that you want to attract to your brand. For example, you might want to reach:
- Budget-conscious consumers
- Luxury shoppers
- Enterprise-level businesses
- Small businesses
- Mothers or fathers
- Kids or teens
Define How You Want to Be Perceived
Once you know the specific group that you’re targeting with your brand, you’re ready to start thinking of the best ways to target that group.
For example, let’s say you run a restaurant and you want to focus on budget-conscious consumers. If so, you may want people to perceive your brand as being:
- Good for the whole family
- Enjoyable for any meal of the day
Organize Your Business Around Your Brand Image
At this point, you know who you’re targeting and what you want them to think about your business. Now you can start organizing your business around that brand identity.
For example, let’s continue the restaurant scenario we began in the last sub-section.
In order for this restaurant to meet its brand goals, it would actually need to be able to offer high-quality dishes at an affordable price. Doing that may require the restaurant to focus on getting as many people as possible through the restaurant on a given night. And it could impact their staffing practices or even the ingredients they choose.
The point of this step is that you may need to change some of the ways that your business works to deliver on the promises of the brand that you’re trying to create.
Communicate With Your Customers
Now you’re finally ready to begin communicating the brand that you’ve been putting together to your target audience. You can do that with:
- Social media ads and content
- Your website
- SEO content and blog posts
- Print and traditional media advertising
- Signage in your business
- The decoration and layout of your locations
- Your packaging and product designs
Try to get into the habit of thinking about everything that a customer sees from your company as being part of your brand. Companies like Disney, Amazon, and Facebook excel because everything they do fits neatly into their brand image. Your goal should be to do the same thing.
What to Do If You Need to Revamp Your Current Branding
Maybe you’ve already spent time thinking about the keys to branding and know why branding your business is a good idea. But perhaps you still think you could be getting more out of your existing brand. Here are some tips for doing that.
Research Your Brand’s Current Performance
Some parts of your brand may be working. Or you might need to start over from scratch. The only way to know for sure is to get an overview of your brand’s current performance.
There are a few ways to do this. One option is to conduct a survey with existing customers and leads. But you could also hire an outside firm to look at your brand if you’re interested in getting an outsider’s perspective.
Once you have this data, it becomes much easier to plan out the rest of your revamp.
Focus On Standing Out
The best brands are singular. We recognize them as being their own unique entities rather than carbon copies of other businesses that offer basically the same things.
If you’re struggling with branding, it could be because you’re not standing out enough. When people think that your company is interchangeable with the competition, it’ll be tough to maintain their attention without offering the lowest prices in town.
Trying something different may be what it takes to unlock the full potential of your brand.
Monitor and Adapt
Branding isn’t an exact science. We can make predictions about how our target audiences will respond to different marketing materials. But we can’t know for sure until we make a change and see what happens.
That’s why it’s super important to track data related to the changes that you’re making. For example, if you launch a blog to establish your business as a thought leader, then see if the topics you write about actually bring in traffic.
If a branding change doesn’t have the desired results, that’s okay, too. You can just try something else and see if that works. Eventually, you’re going to get it perfect. But the only way to do that is if you monitor the performance of your branding and make changes when the performance isn’t enough to reach your branding goals.