It doesn’t matter what industry we operate in or how small we perceive our business to be, the importance of branding cannot be underestimated.
There is a common misconception among many small and medium sized business owners that branding simply equates to a logo, the image that sits at the top of our letterhead and appears on our business cards. But what happens when we take that logo away? We’re left with nothing!
So what exactly is branding?
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, said “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
As well as the aesthetics – logo, colours, typeface, taglines, slogans, packaging and imagery – branding encompasses everything else about our business. Its position, promise, personality and story.
Through branding, a potential customer should be able to determine what our business does and who for. What products and/or services are we delivering, and what traits we are known for.
It also includes the values of our business and how these are communicated, accepted and influence the way that our staff interacts with customers and each other. Commonly known as ‘internal branding’, this component of branding assists in shaping business culture and has the power to reduce absenteeism and employee turnover and increase customer satisfaction.
Branding is what separates our business from our competitors and when developed and executed correctly, it presents us to potential customers as the only solution for them. It is so powerful that it evokes emotion that ultimately influences buying behaviour.
Today’s marketplace is competitive and there isn’t much tolerance for businesses that don’t stand for something or that look dicey. When it comes to branding, we’re a judgemental race. Within seconds of being exposed to a brand for the first time potential customers are subconsciously making assumptions about our business – the quality of our products/services, how we are priced, if we are trustworthy, and so on. If our branding isn’t compelling and doesn’t accurately reflect our value proposition chances are we’re missing out on customers.
Consistency also plays a key role in the success of branding. And it takes time, commitment and creativity to continually deliver our image and message(s) over the multitude of platforms available without boring the market. Our business’s message should not change and it needs to be delivered to our target market repeatedly, constantly reinforcing why customers should be choosing us.
“Branding demands commitment; commitment to continual re-invention; striking chords with people to stir their emotions; and commitment to imagination. It is easy to be cynical about such things, much harder to be successful.” – Sir Richard Branson, CEO Virgin.