Before the digital age came along, branding was THE single most important weapon in any business, local, national or international. It was how business owners and managers drilled their company’s name into the minds of consumers. It was the foundation for their advertising. Back then, a company’s branding was tantamount to their image – and it was fiercely protected.
But since the dawn of the internet, and social media feeds constantly scrolling by and online advertising targeted with pinpoint accuracy, many business owners – especially local business owners – have become ambivalent when it comes to building and maintaining a strong brand.
If you fall into this category, where branding is not a priority in your business, you’re making a big mistake. Branding, in general, is still immensely important, it’s crucial for small, local companies. Never underestimate the importance of branding.
We’re going to look at the importance of branding and how to do it. Here are 5 reasons you shouldn’t skip out on building a strong brand for your business.
Branding defines the “You” in your business
When you started your business, it’s probably true to say that your motivation was more than just making money. For instance, let’s say that you started a landscaping firm, you probably loved the process of remaking a space into something beautiful. Your autobody shop probably grew out of your love of working on cars.
These are the perfect sentiments to convey in your branding. Think about it – if your customers think you’re just out to get their money, they won’t be keen to work with you. But if you express your underlying motivations, your love for what you do, in your brand, then your customers will pick up on it too.
Consumers want to feel good about how they’re spending their money. If you implement good branding and your brand comes across as you loving what you do, they’ll feel good about spending their hard-earned money with you.
Strong Branding Generates Revenue
Once you’ve built your brand, you’ll begin engaging with potential new customers. But branding doesn’t stop with attracting customers directly. It’s just as important for attracting referral customers.
A strong brand will resonate with your existing customers and that will be their basis for spreading the word to their friends, family, and hopefully, even to their social media following, it’s why share buttons exist. They’ll remember your company’s image, maybe they’ll describe your logo or mention your tagline. They might even describe the design of your website and its customer-friendly layout.
Most of all, they’ll remember the feeling they had while doing business with you. All these small things that tie into creating your brand will lend themselves to building an excellent referral network of customers. It’s one of the reasons that branding, logos included, have to be memorable, you need to stand out.
Reviews and Testimonials
Don’t forget – the people you want to spend with you, spend a lot of time online. And online reviews are an important aspect of your brand. Reviews reflect how your current and past customers feel about your company and this is conveyed to prospective customers. Most of your potential customers will check your online reviews before deciding to do business with you, especially true of high-value goods and services. A strong brand message can ensure consistent and positive reviews.
Whatever the source of the reviews; Facebook, Yelp, Amazon, or Google My Business, you need to display them prominently on your website.
Your Brand Reinforces Trust
If there’s one thing consumers are looking for in their business relationships, it’s trust. And sadly, it’s hard to come by nowadays. It seems there are new businesses cropping up on every block, only to be closed in a few months. This makes it incredibly hard for consumers to feel a strong sense of loyalty and trust.
There are many reasons a business can cease trading but one of the biggest mistakes is the failure to build a strong, consistent brand right from the start. Your brand relays an unspoken promise to your customers. It says, “We’re here, we cared enough to build a strong foundation, and we’ll treat you right.” It’s not just about logos and color schemes, although that’s a large part of it.
More than anything else, your brand is a collection of tangible (marketing material, a website) and non-tangible (your inspiration, your values) aspects that tell customers, “This is who we are.” When consumers are confident in who you are, you’ve inspired them with a sense of trust.
A business without strong, consistent branding generally does not inspire trust and may leave its customers wary of referring others, no one wants to come across as a source of bad recommendations. Obviously, that’s not good when you’re trying to run a successful business. But worse, a company without a real brand is easy to ignore.
Even if you’re providing great service, your lack of a solid brand message may be the reason your satisfied customers keep forgetting to tell others about their experience.
When you have a great brand, and your competitors don’t, you’re already positioned to gain more customers and stay fresh in their minds long after your services are done.
Branding is Essential
These are only a few reasons branding is so essential for every business, and especially local businesses. If you’re not sure how to get started on building a brand, check out some of the free resources available to you online, or consider hiring a professional to walk you through the process.
Done right, your branding can transform your company from a run-of-the-mill local business to a pillar of excellence and trust in your community. There’s a reason that you know Apple, Coke, Google, Tesla, etc; they realize the importance of branding and work towards keeping their brand front and center.
Clear Strategy and Focus – How the big brands do it
Big brands build success through clear strategy and focus and they do that by making sure that everyone from the CEO to the shop floor worker needs to believe in the same vision and the same purpose. It is this drive that will also drive your business to success.
If you have employees who really understand and believe in what they do and why they’re doing it, their drive will come through to your customers.
This is why it is important to have a clear brand strategy and provide every person working for your company with structured and detailed brand guidelines, that will reflect the brand’s purpose, values, strategy, and communication codes.
How to Build Brand Loyalty
Now that we understand the purpose, rules, and importance of branding, it’s important to understand the relationship between branding and loyalty. Apple’s die-hard consumers will fight tooth and nail to defend ‘their’ brand. That is the importance of branding. You can also read up on brand loyalty here.
Identify your target audience.
Who is your ideal consumer? What are their priorities? Where do they shop? How do they dress? How much money do they make? Answering these questions in advance will ensure that your marketing efforts are focused on the correct group of consumers.
Examine what makes them tick.
Learn what drives your target audience to make buying decisions and use this information as you create customer-facing content. Everything from customer service replies to Instagram ads should be developed with the needs of the customer in mind.
For your customers to return, that is. Repeat business is how you’ll grow because it’s the repeat customers who’ll tell others about you. Consider creating a loyalty program or use promo codes to keep customers coming back for more.
Use Social Media Influencers.
Brand loyalty is dependent upon trust. Generally, consumers already trust the influencers they choose to follow on social media, many have notifications turned on or check every few hours on the latest. If one of those influencers believes in your brand, their followers will be much more likely to believe in you as well.
Don’t feel that you have to pay over the top for an influencer. Many top brands have realized that micro-influencers are the ideal ones to promote their product or service. Micro-influencers are typically ones with around 10,000 followers and prices can start from as little as $50.
The best brands are built upon a strong foundation, which allows each and every branding decision to be made strategically.
Branding is more than a design on a product, a logo, or a strapline. It is about all of these things and more, customer experience, brand promises, and loyalty. It is all of the characteristics of what makes you, you.
Every individual is different, unique, and has something different to offer, likewise with every business. It is this difference that sets us apart, how this is portrayed and marketed is what makes companies leaders in their industry.
One thing that should be remembered above all else – a logo is not branding, it is a part of it.