It never ceases to amaze me how many small businesses ignore branding. It’s baffling really. Branding is quite possibly the single most powerful thing you can do for your business and it should never be overlooked.
I suppose a lot of people feel as though it’s only for big businesses. Heck, the term “brand” itself often conjures up images of yellow arches, swooshes, and half eaten apples. Well, I am here to tell you that branding is just as important for the flower shop down the street or the home brewery as it is for McDonald’s, Nike or Apple.
So, why is a “brand” so important?
I am glad that you asked. Branding is crucial to business success because it’s what represents you and your company. Your brand is not simply just a logo, it’s that gut feeling people have about you. It is the sum total of the feelings and experiences that people have when they encounter your brand and it’s various touch points.
Those feelings are derived from your brand’s appearance, your products and services, your brand name, your strategic vision, your slogan, brand colors, even your staff and your business cards. Branding is all of the above and it should make it to the top of your priority list. Your brand is who you are.
That means that your brand’s success depends on being authentic. Of telling the brand story in an authentic and unique way.
Easier said than done, right?
How is your brand important?
Okay. That’s great and all, but how is my brand just as important as Starbucks’ brand? Well, the world is getting smaller and people are more connected than ever. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, you name it; sites like these are drawing us closer together every minute. One person’s voice can be louder than entire corporations. The game has changed and the customer experience is more important than ever. You, as a small business owner, have a fantastic opportunity to develop your brand and make a big impact in ways that weren’t possible 5 or 10 years ago.
We are now living in a global small town and that is the perfect environment for small business. You can show people you truly care while some businesses are just too big to care. It’s a level playing field, so yea, your brand is just as important as theirs and you should treat it as such.
You can start by really caring about your customers. I mean really caring! Most businesses start with the mindset of sales, revenues and profits – all of which are required. But if you start off by caring about your customer – even at the cost of profits then you will build a truly awesome brand that will stand out from the competition and even compete with the big boys out there.
Branding is not about image
But let me say this, it’s not just about slapping some pre-designed logo on your letterhead. It’s about being authentic, telling a completing story, being consistent and genuinely caring. Don’t fool yourself, people know when you are bullshitting them. A brand is not what you say it is. A brand is what others say, think and feel about you and your company. So don’t skimp on brand building. Use it as one of the most powerful tools you have in that, hard-working; beat up old toolbox of yours.
Learn about and think about positioning your brand in the marketplace. Do it proactively. Do not wait for the market or the competition to position you on the ladder. Work out what the ladder is and then make a conscious and determined effort to position your brand on the top rungs of the ladder.
This is ever more important for fresh entrepreneurs who are entering the game now. They have an advantage. They can start right and set the base up properly so that their marketing message is heard quicker and faster than before. They can incorporate the idea of a “brand” into their thinking and decision making right from the start so that they truly develop a brand.
Branding is not advertising
Many people confuse branding with advertising. In branding, the entire process of building an image and establishing the uniqueness of a certain product is necessary. While advertising is one tool that companies use for them to establish their respective brands in the market. Essentially, advertising aids in creating a brand.
If you are running some advertising campaigns, do not assume that your brand awareness is also being serviced. It would not. You would have to spend time, effort and resources to build your brand awareness and your brand clarity. Clarifying who you are and what you stand for is very critical in the market. It is very important to build customer loyalty.
Advertising may bring in short term results – sales and revenue. But branding creates long term value and the guarantee that your business would thrive and make a difference in this world.
Take the above example of one of our clients for whom we had created a brand name, a killer logo design, and complete brand identity. When you look at the tagline you can very easily conclude that this brand operated in the travel sector.
So far so good. But wouldn’t you agree that the brand exudes a sense of opulence, style, and elegance that would befit the luxury travel market? Would you not agree that the logo design inspires confidence and trust? But is it just because of the logo? Click here to check out a few more travel-related companies that we created logos for.
So why do get these vibes? Because of the overall branding that is displayed in the photo. The luxury gold dust card at the back and the expensive looking ink pens give off that opulence and communicate the message clearly.
What about this example of another of clients? What does this photo say to you? What kind of brand do you think Elegore is? What feeling does it evoke? I know what you are thinking. I had said above that a brand is more than a logo design. And yet, here I am showing you examples of just the logo and asking for your conclusions.
The reason is very simple – as mentioned before, a brand is a sum total of all experiences and all touch points. And since I can not display here and introduce you to the various touch points of these brands, I am using the visual language to bring home the point.
For this client, we create the powerful brand, brand identity, website design and social media branding to communicate the message of luxury, elegance, and exclusiveness. And it comes across very quickly and without any confusion.
That is the power of branding!