What is branding?
Put simply, branding is the means by which a business communicates itself to the outside world, in contrast to other businesses. It is the “mark” you put on your “cow” to set it apart from others and also communicate directly to the exact people who need what you have.
Branding is the way you position your business so that there is a seamless link between you and your customers – whether physically or on social media. It involves the intangible things (like name, tone and voice of communication, logo, etc) that you do to create a picture for your business or company.
A brand, therefore, is a set of characteristics, behaviours, and qualities which serves as a specific representation of a business.
Why do you need to have a brand?
Your brand is your representative in the outside world. It is the agent that will orchestrate your company’s growth (or lack thereof).
People naturally have certain perceptions about your business. In other words, customers have created a representation of your business in their own mind.
This representation (brand) is what determines how they will relate with you. The major reason why you need intentional branding is to direct the perception your customers have about you.
Remember, whether you define a brand for your business or not, people already have a perception in their minds. However, that perception may not be the right kind of perception you want them to have. You won’t want customers to perceive your business as being shareholder-driven instead of market-driven.
As your company does business and communicates with your customers, they constantly form their perceptions about your company and it’s these perceptions that determine whether they want to keep doing business or move to someone else.
Branding is a conscious effort to design the exact perception you want people to have about your brand. It is a deliberate attempt to create the right representation you want for your business.
Companies that actively craft their brands are more effective in marketing and retaining customers.
When you see a bottle with a red stripe, you know it’s Coca-Cola; and you can already start imagining a host of other things about the company.
When you see an apple that has been bitten by the side, you know it’s Apple, Inc; and you can start imagining a top-notch design, great user interface, high-quality features, and unequalled capabilities.
Although branding is much more than your logo and company colour, these examples indicate how intentional branding efforts can be used to build strong businesses.
And if you still think you don’t need to consciously brand your business, then you should be comfortable with whatever perceptions the market has about you.
Benefits of Branding
Branding is not just another buzzword used by marketers to get more money from business owners. It is a very important aspect of a business that, if neglected, will have horrific effects on the business’s ability to survive in the market.
The following are some benefits branding will have on your business.
- Branding builds trust around your business
The more people can identify your brand and what you stand for, the more trust they have in you. We trust Apple because we know that they stand for innovativeness and quality delivery and design.
- It places you as an authority in your field
Companies that rise to become the leading voices in their fields pay critical attention to how they brand themselves. You will gradually be perceived as a leader in your field if you can create a suitable brand for your business and communicate this effectively to your customers.
- Branding strengthens your voice and provides a way to effectively communicate to the market
Companies that haven’t built a good brand often follow a haphazard manner of communication. Branding clarifies your voice and provides you with a strategy to communicate with your customers in a consistent way.
- A good brand can be easily recognized
You sure don’t want your products to get easily mixed with others on the shelf. Creating a brand makes you stand out from your rivals and also allows you to be easily seen by your customers.
- Branding attracts the customers who have the specific attributes you are after.
Branding brings you to people who believe what you believe, as Simon Sinek describes. When you clearly state what you stand for, other people that stand for that same thing are drawn to you. Just like people that love to think differently are drawn to Apple, people will be drawn to you because of your brand.
- It builds a community around your business
What every business wants is a loyal base of customers that will consistently patronise them and serve as a means of growth. When you have a brand, your business becomes a community for those who have the same attributes you have. This is the reason some businesses are able to form “cults” of customers who serve as steady means of income.
- Branding helps ensure that the perceptions people have about your business are positive and suitable for growth.
Many a company failure is due to the wrong perception people have about a business. Branding clarifies what you stand for and what you stand against; what you believe and what you don’t; who you are and who you’re not.
- A good branding strategy eases your marketing efforts and positions you for exponential growth.
Branding helps build a focus on what you actually need for growth. It directs your marketing efforts in terms of what you need to market; how you should market; and who you should market to. With good branding, marketing the right products and services becomes easier.