Branding is one of the most vital aspects of marketing any business, small or large or, B2B or retail. A brand strategy that is effective gives you a significant lead in increasingly competitive markets. But what exactly does “branding” mean? How does it affect a small, medium or large business like yours?
Your brand is your commitment to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services. It conveys your UVP, Unique Value Proposition, to your customer and separates your products or services from everyone else. Your brand is expresses who you are, who you want to be and people’s perception of you.
Or the experienced, reliable one? Are you the innovator in your industry? Are you city or country, rock star or rapper? Are your products or services low-cost, high-value, or high-cost, high-quality? You can’t be all things to all people: your target market is not everybody. Who you are and what your brand expresses is connected to what your target customers want and need you to be.
Surveys and test markets can clarify and define your branding. It starts with your company name and perhaps your product’s name. Develop a tagline. Write a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand and your mission.
A logo serves as the foundation of your brand. Your building, delivery trucks, employee dress code, website, packaging and promotional materials including media kits–all of which integrate your logo–communicate your brand.
Branding Strategy & Equity
Your brand strategy is the major end goal that you are going after. What you communicate verbally and visually are part of your brand strategy, as well as where and when you plan on communicating and delivering your brand messages to what target audience. Connecting with them is part of your branding strategy. Your distribution channels are also part of your brand strategy.
Consistent, strategic branding leads to a strong brand equity, which means the added value brought to your company’s products or services. This perception of your brand in the mind of consumers allows you to charge more for your products or services than those that are unbranded.
Another integral factor brand equity delivers is an emotional attachment to perceived quality. Nike, for example, associates its products with star athletes, hoping customers will transfer their emotional attachment from the athlete to the product. It also conveys their faith in their customers’ abilities, that they can “Just Do It”. For Nike, it’s not just the shoe’s features that sell the shoe.
Refining Your Branding
Refining your brand is like a journey of self-discovery over time for your business. It can be a challenge when you think you have it, but you miss the mark.
It requires, at the very least, that you answer the questions below:
- What is your company’s mission?
- What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
- Do your research. Learn the needs, habits and desires of your current and prospective customers. Don’t rely on what you think they think. Know what they think.
- Have a customer avatar so you can find more just like them.
- What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
- What qualities do you want them to remember when they think of your company?
Once you’ve defined your branding, get the word out. Here are a few simple, time-tested tips:
- Get a great logo. Place it everywhere. Definitely in your media kits and all promotional materials.
- Be true to your brand. Customers won’t return to you–or refer you to someone else–if you don’t deliver on your brand promise.
- Be consistent. This is the most important guidline. If you can’t do this, your attempts at branding will fail.
Because defining your brand and developing a brand strategy can be complex, consider using the expertise of a branding and marketing company.
For a fun look at how branding strategies and advertising, check out “Crazy People”, starring Dudley Moore and Daryl Hannah.