Anyone can create a business tomorrow that sells the same products and services as you, but they can’t replicate your branding just as easily. When done right, your logo, your slogan, and brand aesthetic are all proprietary to who you are.
But branding isn’t just skin deep. It is also the customer service you provide and the product and service you deliver. Follow along as we explain what branding is and why your business, regardless of size, should incorporate branding into your marketing strategy.
What is Branding?
Branding is the process involved in creating a unique name and brand image. It is what distinguishes one business from the next and challenges companies to create innovative ways to tell customers who they are. Your logo, slogans and taglines, colors, and campaigns all work together to tell customers who you are, what you value, and why you do what you do.
Branding, good or bad, elicits physical and emotional cues that are triggered by the mere thought of your business. Branding and promotion go hand in hand, but they describe different activities.
While they both add value to your brand, promotion focuses on generating new leads for your business by generating visibility for your products and services. Branding is more centered around creating a strong and positive brand image. It gives meaning to your business and works to convince customers to choose you over others in your industry.
Why is Branding Important?
Let’s take it a step back. Your brand image is centered around customer perception. How you view your brand means nothing in comparison to what your customers think. But your branding is what molds those feelings into the perception you want to create. You can change how your brand is perceived through your actions.
Branding is important because it supports all aspects of your marketing plan. A major function of branding is to create a consistent brand message. If your branding is uniform and consistent, it makes it easier for you to run promotions, create valuable content for your audience(s), and deliver on your company promise.
Your branding is the foundation for all your marketing activities. Your advertising, public relations, product development, customer service and collaborations are all influenced by your branding. Bad branding can negatively impact the performance of these activities. This can make it difficult for you to tell whether an ad missed the mark or whether your branding doesn’t translate to your audiences. In order for any of your marketing efforts to work effectively, your branding needs to be in order.
How Do I Brand My Business?
Building a brand reputation equivalent to that of Nike and Apple will take time, but that doesn’t mean that your business is too small to start now. Building your brand will take years of experience, market research and the help of a community to stand by your business.
To get to this place, you need to build a strong foundation to grow from. The harsh reality is that, although branding requires time and money well spent, it is a marketing activity that you most likely won’t see a direct return from. Rather it is an investment to help your business grow and project the right impression in the long run.
1. Create an Image for Yourself.
What do you want your customers and clients to know you for? Really hone in on what your brand does well and what your business values. Create a name, logo, mission, and vision that are representative of that image.
You can think of your logo as the face of your brand. By looking at it, customers should have a quick understanding of what you do. To ensure that your logo design is professional, it is worth the investment of hiring a professional marketing agency with the design skills to create your logo. Equally important to think about are your colors and fonts. You want your branding to be cohesive in all areas, as well as versatile.
Make sure that your branding is understood and consistent throughout your entire organization. While the focus of branding is often put on customers, it can also be used to create a positive company culture that your employees can feel connected to. This is helpful from large businesses with hundreds of employees to mom and pop shops with five or less. If your employees feel connected to your brand, then they will perform better and create lasting relationships with your customers.
2. Build an Online Presence.
Next, build upon your online presence with consistent messaging. More important to branding now than ever before is social media. It is the easiest way to convey a message to your audience and help you create a connected community. Reinforce who you are through images and videos that engage your customers.
Customers are most likely to feel connected to companies with a brand personality that match their own. Stay true to who you are, and the right customers will become your allies.
But before you build a social media presence, you need a website. Your social media should work as a funnel to your website where customers can find more information about your brand.
The best place to find out what your customers think of your brand is online. Knowing what your customers are saying is important, but don’t get caught down the rabbit hole. The only opinions that matter are those of your target market or the target audience your message is intended for.
3. Build Lasting Relationships.
Partner with companies that align with your brand values. Creating associations with brands that already instill good feelings with others will transfer those good feelings to you. Sponsorships are not always about making a profit. You may not get any new business at all, but a sponsorship can help you with your brand awareness. The more places people can find your name the better.
Not to mention it is a great way to reach people you normally wouldn’t get in front of. If they aren’t in need of your product or services, they at least can recommend others who may be or contribute to positive conversations about your brand. Sponsoring organizations that do good in the community will make your brand look altruistic and sympathetic. People do business with those they trust.
Am I Doing Branding Right?
Branding is trackable. Check in with your customers regularly to make sure you are marketing your brand in the most effective ways possible. If you find that it is becoming increasingly difficult to get a response from your intended audience, it may be time to try something new. Don’t be afraid to partner with outside help to achieve the branding that you want.
What do you do to brand your business? If you’ve developed strategies that worked or have come across any challenges, leave a comment below!