Sometimes it’s worthwhile to go back to the basics as a reminder of what we do, why we do it, and how best to explain it to someone else. This article serves as a reminder of what all that branding means and how it can help your business.
Why is it worth thinking about your business as a brand? Isn’t branding just for big, global companies who have the money to spend on it? What does the word “brand” really mean, anyway? This article will answer these questions, help demystify the branding process, and show you that a brand is much more than a logo.
What does “brand” mean?
A brand is how a business is perceived in the mind of someone who has experienced it in some way. Someone can form this perception by hearing a friend make a comment about the business, spotting a logo on a delivery van, reading a review online, listening to an interview with the founder, or through a personal experience as a customer.
Think of all the ways your business could leave an impression on someone— a customer, supplier, employee, journalist, or anyone else who may come into contact with it. These are your brand touchpoints, and the special place it occupies in someone’s mind is called brand positioning.
Your business can consider and control some of these brand touchpoints, such as the design and wording on your website or email newsletter. Many other brand touchpoints will be outside of your control, such as an online customer review. The goal of branding is to create a clear, positive impression of your business across as many touchpoints as you can control. These are described as brand associations, and you can vastly improve your business by influencing them.
How can it help my business?
Let’s start with the clear benefits a brand can bring to your business. A brand is valuable because it helps you connect more easily with your customers, stand out from your competitors, and increase the value of your offer. Articulating what your business is about can also help you define your own identity and give you more confidence in promoting it personally.
1. Connecting with your audience
The moment when a potential customer connects with your business at a brand touchpoint is crucial. The goal is to draw customers to your business because it feels like the right fit for them.
2. Communicating difference
Branding is a way of highlighting what makes your business different from your competitors. Customers have both rational and emotional reasons for choosing products and services, and branding can help connect with an audience on an emotional level.
3. Creating additional value
Because branding influences perception, customers may be willing to pay more for a product or service that is well-branded. The perception of the brand must match up to the actual experience or there will be no repeat business. This is often described as keeping the brand promise.
Where do I start? Your brand idea
Think of all the experiences you have had to date with your business and why customers have chosen you in the past. This is where you will find the clues which will help you form the basis of your brand. Many people don’t believe there is anything particularly distinctive about what they do, but there is something unique about each business. It helps to go back to the beginning of the business and identify the original motivation.
If you’re a new business without previous experience to draw on, imagine what you would like your future customers to say about you. For example, a plumber may like to be known for being particularly considerate and tidy in people’s homes. A furniture maker may have a focus on using sustainable materials. A restaurant might want to be known for a warm and homey atmosphere. All these factors have the potential to be the basis of a brand.