Strong branding is one of the most important aspects of your business, regardless of its size. You may have heard the buzzword “branding” thrown around a lot, but what does it actually mean? Your brand is made up of the assets that identify your company, such as your visual identity (logo, brand colors, fonts), product design, collateral, communication style, and more. (One common misconception is that a brand and logo are the same thing, but a logo is only part of your brand.)
Having a well-defined brand is crucial to your company’s success. Good branding has a real impact on how people perceive your company, and in turn, affects your profits. If you’ve never thought about your brand as a whole, it’s time to come up with a plan! Without clear branding, your company’s messaging can come across weak or even confusing to your audience. Plus, it’s easier for staff to create content and ads that reflect the brand if everything is clearly defined. (Related article — Why you need a style guide)
“But my business is shoe cleaning! Who cares about branding?” Branding is important for businesses of all sizes, in all industries. When a potential customer is deciding between two rival businesses, good branding can be the deciding factor. For example, if someone lives an equal distance from two shoe cleaners who have similar prices and services, they might base their decision on the feeling they get from comparing the two, or even just which logo they like more. Good branding can’t hurt! So, let’s take a look at four benefits of good branding.
With a strong brand, your audience can clearly picture your business in their mind (also commonly referred to as brand recognition). This puts you at the top of mind when somebody is getting ready to purchase something, even if they’re still comparing their options.
For example, if I mention the company Apple, you probably have a multitude of split-second reactions. Maybe you picture their bitten apple logo. Maybe you think of their crisp white packaging and store interiors. Maybe you have an emotional association with their products (whether it’s positive or negative). Anything that comes to mind is a result of Apple’s branding (and marketing). Everyone will have a different reaction, but the fact that you know the company comes down to the strength of their branding.
Potential customer’s first impression of your business is heavily influenced by your branding. They have a gut reaction to everything from your logo, to how your colors make them subconsciously feel, to the style of speech you use. You want that first impression to be good! For example, if you’re a law firm, you might want people to infer that you’re professional, respectful, and knowledgeable. On the other hand, a makeup brand might want to communicate that they’re trendy, popular, and clean. If their first impression lines up with what they’re looking for, your credibility is instantly strengthened!
Good branding can also build audience trust. When your brand’s messaging is a core part of the company, people who align with that message will begin to trust you. For example, the outdoor clothing company Patagonia is well-regarded for showing their brand values through environmental initiatives. These initiatives don’t directly sell Patagonia products, but people associate the brand with caring about the environment, which may influence them to make a purchase if their values align.
The most tangible effect of great branding is increasing your profits. A good first impression will make new customers more likely to make their first purchase. Brand loyal customers will visit you before considering competitors. Plus, branding is a critical tool of marketing. Eventually, the perceived value of your brand can allow you to charge more for your products.
If you’ve read this far and are ready to clarify or build your brand you can get started by asking yourself, “How do I want to connect with customers?” What do you want them to feel? How do you want them to view your company — trustworthy, friendly, trendy, creative, no-nonsense? Then, consider how you can help your audience see your brand in that way. Does your logo align with how you want to be perceived? Is the way you write on social media the way you want your brand voice to “sound”? (Related article — The Missing Component of Your Marketing Strategy)
For existing brands, be honest — are your brand guidelines up to par? Does everything you create have a cohesive feel? Are customers reacting to your brand in the way you expect? Do you still stand out from your competitors? It may be time to reevaluate your existing brand. Companies typically go through a rebrand every 10 years to prevent the existing brand from getting stale.