What Is Branding? Why Is It Important For My Business? How Can I Fix My Brand?
What is Branding?
Let’s dive right in and get to the first part of that question. Branding is generally defined as the promotion of a particular product, service or company by means of advertising and distinctive design. In a cluttered and saturated marketplace, it is important for businesses and brands to stand apart from their competition and the daily distractions that their potential customers are faced with constantly.
But how can you do this when you aren’t always able to physically be there to explain to your customers why they should buy from you?
The answer: A cohesive branding identity (simplified as a “look and feel”) that is set to visually convey the ideals, convictions, beliefs, and level of service of your business, just to name a few.
Assess your brand today to evaluate how your customers might be perceiving your brand.
1. Start with your logo
A logo can be one of the most powerful images for your business. Often times it is the first thing your customers might see, and as we’ve always heard, first impressions are everything. Whether customers see it on a sign on your building, your business card or on your website, your logo should clearly and quickly convey what your business does, it’s level of expertise and it’s dedication to it’s customers. A well designed logo is the cornerstone of the rest of your brand experience and must be done well to contribute to the rest of your brand identity.
2. Your website
Does your website’s visual appearance and user experience reflect current standards that every customer expects when visiting a website today? These standards include: clear and concise messaging, visuals that quickly tie into your brand and it’s products or services, a user experience that is easy and intuitive to navigate, and most importantly a website that is responsive (or mobile ready - easily viewed on a phone). If you answered “no” to any of these questions your website might be doing you a disservice and it may be time to look into a new or revised website.
3. Your collateral
Business cards, printed material and packaging also bring a voice to your brand identity. These too are pieces that speak for your business when you aren’t there to speak for it. Their look should also follow the brand that you set forth in all other parts of your business. A cohesive feel is critical at all customer touch points in your business.
Why is Branding Important to My Business?
Strong branding isn’t just reserved for the likes of Apple, Nike or Amazon. Your business deserves and needs a strong brand presence as well. Doing so could give you a distinct advantage against your competition who may not see branding as an area of importance for them. Effective branding can be more affordable than you think, and it’s returns, though sometimes difficult to quantify, can produce greatly for your business. The following are just a few reasons branding should be important to you and your business.
1. Branding Increases Business Value
A strong brand can help stake it’s place in a marketplace and distinguish itself from the rest of the pack, making you the odds on favorite to win business. Distancing your brand and your business ahead of your competition and doing so for long periods of can help to ensure future business while also helping investors to look more highly upon your business.
2. Strong Branding can Help Generate New Customers
Happy customers are more willing to refer business when they are proud of a brand that they can stand behind. This positive impression is what makes it easier for a referral to be made and customer pride can often times translate into a feelings of trust and dependability, all facets that are taken into account when people tie themselves to a brand.
3. A Polished Brand can Help You Stand Out
In a world where anyone can get their business seen, not all are putting their best foot forward. Strong branding, whether it be used for a logo, a website or even just a business card, fosters feelings of trust in consumers. Branding, when done properly, shows a business is investing in itself and cares about it’s appearance which in turn develops a feeling of caring about their customers.
How Can I Fix My Brand
You may think, “I have a logo. I have a website. I have some collateral. We are getting leads and landing business. Addressing my branding needs is the last thing I need right now.” This “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” mentality might work in other parts of your business. When it comes to branding, revisiting it’s effectiveness should be considered more frequently than you think, especially if you haven’t revisited it in the last 7-10 years. Why? Trends, styles, colors, they all change and what were strong 8 years ago could make your business look dated today. Waiting until it is too late or when business is declining makes it difficult to invest in your business and it’s brand at a time when resources and funds are scarce, so what are some fixes to avoid this pitfall?
If your brand or your overall look and feel clearly comes from decades of past, it’s probably time for a rebrand. Completely scrapping what you’ve had for years or decades isn’t always the answer, which can make this somewhat heavy lift a little lighter. Brand equity or brand recognition should always be taken into consideration when rebranding a business, in that you don’t want to lose any segment of a loyal customer base. But a rebrand may allow you to open the door to a new generation of customers that you couldn’t reach with your old look and feel.
2. Website Redo / Redesign
Websites are used more than ever by customers to research brands and businesses before they buy. Even if a customer receives a referral from a close personal friend, more often than not that person will Google your business before they reach out to you directly. If your website isn’t giving off the polished look your business needs and deserves, make it a point to have your website redesigned or you are missing out on business opportunities from that first impression. Secondly, if you don’t have a website, you are most certainly missing out on business opportunities. It may sound cliché, but every business in this day and age should have a good website.
3. Give, Give, Give, then Ask (maybe)
In most cases your brand should be more than a look and a feel, it should also be a resource for your customers. More than ever customers need to feel they trust a brand before they buy from a brand. How do you promote feelings of trust? Give your customers unconditional love without feelings of needed reciprocation. Often times businesses feel they always need to be asking, but without a strong relationship in place, trust and then purchasing is far from being attained. Inform your customers about your industry, give them ideas on how to improve their lives through your information - add value! Then occasionally ask something of them. This process makes the ask that much easier, but it also makes the ask that much more effective when you have been the one guiding the relationship through a customer journey that you’ve essentially been writing the playbook for. This can all be done on a blog on your website, with email campaigns and most definitely with social media platforms. If you aren’t doing this currently, you should start tomorrow… scratch that… today.
It can sound overrated and unnecessary. It can sound like a waste of time, money, resources and something that is designated for billion dollar businesses. Just know that those billion dollar businesses started somewhere, and effective branding (along with hard work, determination and dedication to their craft) probably had a lot to do with where they are today. More importantly branding has an even bigger part in where they are going tomorrow and beyond.