Branding goes far beyond just a logo. When you think about your brand, you really want to think about the entire customer experience. This includes everything from your logo to your website, your social media experiences to the way you answer the phone, and the way your customers experience your staff.
If you look at the broad definition of ‘branding’ it can be quite overwhelming to think about what is involved in your brand. But we can summarise the term in 5 simple words. Your brand is the way your customer perceives you.
To become a successful business, it is critical to be aware of your brand experience and have a plan to create the brand experience that you want to have. A good brand doesn’t just happen, it is a well thought out and strategic plan.
There are some incredible brands out there including Google, Coca-Cola, Facebook, Uber and Apple but they didn’t become successful overnight. The pinnacle of successful branding is when your company can become an adjective or a noun itself – when the product no longer needs to be explained and it becomes part of the human vocabulary. Brands that have become adjectives include Google, Facebook and Uber. Have you ever heard someone say “I’ll just Google it”, “Did you Facebook that?”, “Let’s catch an Uber”.
There are also brands that have become nouns themselves. ‘Coke’ has replaced the word Cola. Don’t believe me? Have you ever gone to a restaurant to order a Coke and the waiter replies with ‘Sorry, we only have Pepsi, is that okay?’ Look at Apple, we use the word iPhone and iPad more than smartphone and tablet. It is the job of competitors in the market to differentiate themselves from the dominant brand and we can see this with Pepsi, Android, Samsung, HTC, Sony, Nokia, etc.
Despite how obvious the importance of branding may seem, many small businesses and start-ups neglect thinking about their brand in a broader sense and the impact it has on their business.
Here are 5 reasons why you need to get smarter about the branding of your business:
- Branding promotes recognition.
People tend to do business with companies they are familiar with. If your branding is consistent and easy to recognise, it can help people feel more at ease purchasing your products or services.
- A strong brand generates referrals.
People LOVE to tell others about the brands they like or have discovered. You see this all the time with restaurants and cafes – friends are always finding new hot spots to dine at. These friends then tell other friends and before you know it, you have 20 new regular customers. People wear brands, they eat brands, they listen to brands and they are constantly telling others about the brands they love. Therefore, a strong brand is critical to generating referrals or viral traffic.
- Your brand helps set you apart from the competition.
In today’s global market, it is critical to stand out from the crowd. You are no longer competing on a local stage, your organisation now competes in the global economy. How do you stand out from the thousands or millions of similar organisations around the world?
- Your brand provides motivation and direction.
A clear brand strategy provides clarity for your staff to be successful. It tells them how to act, how to get sales, and how to meet the organisation’s goals. You will often hear HR Managers discuss whether candidates “fit the organisation”. That is, can they see this potential employee embody the company values and sell their brand?
When you’re a start-up or a small business, it’s very easy to wander from idea to idea with nothing to guide you and it doesn’t take long to be distanced from your original goals or plans. A clear brand strategy helps you stay focused on your mission and vision as an organisation. Your brand can help you to be strategic and will guide your marketing efforts saving time and money.
- Your brand represents you and your promise to your customer.
It is important to remember that your brand represents you – you are the brand, your staff are the brand, your marketing materials are the brand. What do they say about you, and what do they say about what you’re going to deliver (promise) to the customer?