The Importance Of Branding Your Business
If you’ve never owned a business before and are thinking of starting one, you’ve probably heard a lot about your “brand,” but do you really know why it’s so important?
There are over 1 million small businesses in Canada, and many new business owners get caught up in their product or service. After all, that’s what really matters, right? Well, it certainly doesn’t hurt, but you also need to place an emphasis on your brand.
Branding your business is certainly an important aspect of achieving business success, and you should know the real reasons why. Once you know why it’s so important, you’ll be able to shape your brand to meet your own goals.
Your brand is more than just the symbol you choose to represent your business–it’s all your marketing and advertising efforts, your communications, what you represent, and the overall experience that you want your business to convey to the public.
Here’s what you need to know.
Why Is Branding Your Business So Essential?
People Recognize You
People like things they’re familiar with. Whether that’s a favourite meal, an old friend, or a neighbourhood that they’ve lived in for years, familiarity gives them a feeling of comfort and normalcy. And this absolutely applies to brands, as well.
Having a coherent brand makes your products or services more recognizable. People remember them when they’re standing in the aisle, trying to make a decision. Even if they’ve never used your product before, they’re more likely to take a chance if they recognize the brand.
It Sets You Apart
And when those customers are standing in an aisle, choosing what product they’re going to buy, what’s setting your product apart from the competition? It’s not the product itself–they can hardly take each selection from the shelf and begin testing it in the store–so it has to be what they see in front of them.
That’s where your brand can either make or break you. A good brand sets you apart. It could be your packaging, what you’re known for, a promise that you make the customer, or what the product promises to say about the customer.
It Creates an Emotional Connection
That last point we mentioned–what the product promises to say about the customer. That’s a huge part of your brand, and it’s one of the most important pieces to branding your business.
Think of Apple products, especially the iPhone. People buy them because they work well, but not only because they work well. Having an iPhone simultaneously sets you apart and positions you as part of the “in” crowd.
We aren’t purely logical, rational beings. We have emotional connections to items and brands, and we act on them all the time. Being able to craft an emotional connection with your customers is a huge win, and it starts with branding your business.
It Generates Loyalty
And that’s really what it’s all about. When customers become loyal to your brand, you know you’re doing something right. When they choose your brand over all others, or even refuse to buy another brand, you’ve created something special.
What does that do for you? It provides a consistent source of customers, and it generates new customers through word of mouth. Loyal customers use your product or service, and they also tell their friends about it, helping to grow your business.
They’re loyal because they know what they’re getting from your brand, and that makes choosing your product easy. They recognize it, feel an emotional connection with it, and yes, they actually like using your product or service.
Building a successful business isn’t entirely about branding your business, but it is a significant part of it.
It Attracts Talent And Provides Motivation
But branding isn’t just for your customers. It can also be a strong tool for attracting the type of employees that you want in your business. Maybe some young college grads just entering the job market are desperate for anything they can get, but experienced and talented employees will evaluate your company just as you evaluate them.
Having a strong brand tells them that you not only know what you’re doing but that your business has a direction, a way you do things that will reflect on them as employees. If someone says they work for Google or Facebook, you immediately perk up, right?
That’s not just because they’re great companies, but also because they have exceptional brands. People want to work for businesses with excellent brands.
And once those employees are working for you, you’ll find that branding your business also gives them motivation. A killer brand doesn’t just attract the best folks, it inspires them and gives them something more than just a paycheck to work for.
Think of the best brands as nations, and their employees as patriotic citizens. You want your employees to come together around your flag and work for an ideal that’s bigger than simply needing a job.
That won’t happen overnight, but building your brand slowly and surely will pay off down the road.
It Builds Trust
And we don’t just mean with your customers. Branding your business is essential to becoming a trusted company that can attract investors, business partners, thought leaders, and other industry professionals who can help your business continue to grow.
It’s a similar process to attracting customers. You’re recognizable, you have an image that you project, and your brand says that you’re savvy enough to be positioning your business for success. Those are attractive attributes for a business to have.
It Provides Direction
We mentioned this earlier when talking about your employees, but it’s true in a general sense as well. Your brand provides everyone from the top down with a clear strategy and guidelines about what they’re doing, as well as why they’re doing it.
You want them to understand your business’s values, goals, strategies, and communications, and building a brand for yourself and your employees can help with all of that.
What to Think About When Branding Your Business
Who Are You?
The Who may have said it best, but the question remains, “Who are you?” You have to understand what your business is about and what direction you want to go in before you can really start branding your business.
Don’t try to be something you’re not. Customers can smell a fake or insincere approach a mile away. Stick with your core values. Ask yourself what keeps you going during the long days, and keeps you up during the even longer nights?
Focus your business and your brand around who you really are and what you want your business to be.
Are You Targeting the Right Customers?
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s actually more complicated than you may imagine when you first start your business. You need to have a good idea of who your target audience actually is, and how to reach them with your brand.
Casting a wide net may initially seem like a good idea, but it could actually be better to go after a niche that is underrepresented, or that you think you can be competitive in.
If you just make fitness clothing, you’re up against huge, established companies with great brands. But is there a way for you to narrow that down until you’re targeting a specific subset of customers who will be more willing to try a new brand?
What Makes You Different?
What is the unique proposition that your business has to offer customers? What sets you apart? And again, it’s not just your product or service, although they certainly do play a significant role in your brand.
But it’s also about how you do business, what your vision is for your company, how you run your business and treat your employees, and even what your stance on social or environmental issues are. You don’t have to actively incorporate all of these into your brand, but they are some good examples.
Think about all the environmentally conscious brands that have sprung up in recent years. Their whole brand revolves around sustainability and green practices, and it informs everything that they do. It’s different, and it sets them apart from competitors who make the same type of products.
How Are You Communicating Your Brand?
When you’re branding your business, it’s not only that you need to know the right customers to target, you also need to make sure that your brand is being properly communicated to them. Do they actually know what sets your brand apart?
How you talk to your target audience and the tone you use can shape your brand itself. Think of Nike’s famous “Just Do It” campaign. It’s straightforward, it cuts to the chase, and it pushes action. Just do it.
Some businesses may use humour, others a more serious approach. Those choices will depend on your business and what products or services your provide, but also simply what image you want to project, and what brand you want to build.
Branding your business is just one aspect of starting a new business that you need to learn about. If you’re starting your own business, you have quite the journey ahead of you. At times it will be tough, and rewarding at others.