If you’re a business owner or an aspiring public figure, you’ve probably heard that you need to develop your brand. Maybe you’ve thought about it a bit and considered hiring brand strategy consultants before you put it on the back-burner. After all, what does branding even mean?
“Branding” is one of those terms that is often misunderstood – but it’s crucial that you get it right.
People often mistake branding for simply having a logo or mark that identifies your business. But, while a logo is part of your brand, it isn’t your brand itself. Your brand is emotional, rather than physical.
Here’s what that means:
As one of the most important factors to your business’s success, branding is the promise you make to your customers. More specifically, your brand is the set of emotions and perceptions that you intentionally cultivate around your business, which you constantly communicate to your customers through a series of visual and verbal cues.
The first step for your business may be to reflect this in your logo. Next, you can bring that message across to all of your digital platforms such as your website, Instagram, Facebook, etc. And as another piece of the puzzle, you may choose to create branded products or merchandise with your logo on them.
Now, that’s all fine, but why do you really need to devote time to developing your brand?
Because, branding helps potential customers identify your products or services, distinguish you from competitors, and create a persona that your customers can connect with.
In other words, it’s not just the physical products or services your business provides, it’s also the emotions your audience feels when thinking about your business – emotions that you can help create.
Have you ever looked at an Instagram page and been like: “Damn, they have a nice aesthetic!” That’s what you want to create for your brand – an aesthetic that can make it easily identifiable and get your core message across.
Ask yourself: What do people say, think, and feel about your business? That is your brand, and you have the ability to form that impression by choosing how you present yourself, your service, and/or your product.
On that note, let’s take a closer look at why branding is important and the elements that go into creating your own brand.
Why is Branding Important?
Without branding, your company is just one of millions, lost in the nebulous world of businesses, trying to make a name for themselves. You’ll have nothing to stand on to help your business get noticed, aside from a (hopefully) good product.
And, on the other hand, good branding helps you make a powerful impact on your audience, allowing you to differentiate your products and services from competitors and become the go-to business in the niche that you occupy.
It says: “I’m The Beetle Juice company and I make the best Beetle Juice soda in the entire soda industry.”
A key takeaway is that users and customers expect a certain level of humanity when it comes to brands they interact with. Whether it’s the customer service they receive or how vocal the brand is about social issues, everything’s important.
You need to find the balance between selling your brand and its product/service and being there for your customers when they need it.
Show you care.
There are many statistics that show consumer preferences; as a business, part of what you want to do well is cater to your customers’ wants and needs.
For example, 86% of consumers say authenticity is important and 77% say that a brand that has meaningful values (that align with their own) is going to have more engagement.
As was stated in the beginning, branding encapsulates many things that your business will need in order to be successful, and it’s important to develop your brand well so that you can see future success with what you’re selling.
To be more specific, branding helps you create the following:
Build Brand Recognition
Over time, your brand will help your business be known to consumers. As you consistently use visual cues like your logo and brand imagery, your audience will come to associate these cues with your brand.
So, brand recognition refers to the amount your audience is able to identify your logo and brand colors with your business.
A lot of your brand recognition is going to be built on the reactions of your customers. You need to make sure that what you’re offering gives the customer additional value while you provide them with great customer service.
Over time, the service you give your customers will be appreciated more and then you get to something called Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM).
WOMM is when some of the marketing and branding efforts lie in the hands – or mouths, rather – of your customers. Those who are impressed and satisfied with their purchase are likely to recommend your business to others. As a result, your brand gains recognition.
Think about two best friends, Sam and Fletcher:
Sam recently bought a new comb from a zero-waste eco-friendly small Instagram business. He loves the comb so much for his curly chin-length hair and he can’t wait to tell Fletcher all about it.
Because Fletcher trusts Sam, he takes the recommendation to heart and is more likely to purchase a comb for himself as well.
This cycle continues as Fletcher’s girlfriend mentions she loves how his hair looks recently and he tells her about his new comb. The information about the new comb continues being passed from friend to family member to many more people through simple Word of Mouth Marketing.
There are additional ways to up your brand recognition, but this is a good place to start.
Create Brand Awareness
As you consistently implement your brand strategy (we’ll get to this below), you’ll help to generate what’s known as brand awareness.
All brand awareness means is how aware people are of your business, and the character traits they associate it with.
This takes brand recognition a step further; rather than just identifying a logo with a specific company, your audience will see your logo and instantly be able to correctly associate your product or service with your brand.
When your brand is recognized, people can tell what it is by looking at it (even if it doesn’t have your name printed all over it) – like Dunkin’ Donuts and their easily recognizable font and color scheme – whereas when people are aware of your brand, talking about it is second nature.
Over to You
Now that you know what branding is, it’s time to take your brand into your hands! Remember to think about the values behind your business, your company mission, and the audience you want to target before you begin designing your brand identity.