What is branding and what does branding in business mean? There is a common misconception that a business brand is a logo, symbol, product or service. While these are all part of a company’s brand, they do not accurately explain branding. A brand is a not a copyright, trademark, or image.
Let’s Define “Branding”
Branding is the sum of people’s perception when they think about or interact with what you do.
Contemplate, for a moment, some of your favorite shops or places to spend money. When you think about Target or Banana Republic or Amazon, what thoughts, images, or feelings come to mind? The culmination of those thoughts and emotions are what make up that retailer’s brand.
Will the brand then be the same for everyone? Absolutely not. Some people will love the slightly more upscale department store vibe that Target is going for and others will, for whatever reason, never step into a Target. Both groups of people experience specific feelings regarding the company and their purchasing decisions. There is no right or wrong answer as the brand will vary depending on the person.
This can be a tough concept for many small business owners. Everyone hears that they should be investing time, money and effort into creating a brand – but what is the point if the company cannot control how consumers feel? That’s really the fun part of the whole concept. You, as the owner of your business and brand, get to create your own values, purpose, persona, message, and materials to persuade people to feel about your work the way you want them to.
“Branding is the expression of the essential truth or value of an organization, product or service.”
James Heaton, Tronvig Group
What does branding mean to your business?
A brand is a message that you share with the public in hopes of grabbing the attention of like-minded individuals that will be drawn to what you do. This perception of your company acts as a beacon to draw your ideal clients in, separate you from your competitors and allow you to shine on your own merits.
While there are different types of branding, corporate branding is the most well-known as it “is” the images, messages and experiences your business shares with the rest of the world. There is also employer branding, often used to create a particular culture or to improve morale so employees feel inspired and a better work environment is generated. A fairly new concept, personal branding is now making waves because it is the opportunity to pluck an individual from a corporate brand and showcase them on their own. Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. A personal brand can be both separate (stand-alone) and a part of your company branding.
Why is branding important?
Understanding the importance of branding is more than just wrapping your head around its definition and purpose. Why branding is important for businesses has evolved over the last decade and incorporates a variety of benefits for achieving presence and growing your company. Here are just a few:
- Branding builds trust. If your brand continues to deliver on its brand promises then public trust and credibility are established.
- Branding builds the foundation of your company. A business that lacks direction may find itself going nowhere fast.
- Branding gives the company and staff a purpose and something to strive towards.
- Branding builds recognition and credibility in your community, in your network, online and with the general public.
- Branding is a support system for all other marketing efforts.
- Strong brands increase the financial value of a company, making it a more stable asset.
- Branding establishes direction and should inspire your team, employees, vendors.
- The right branding gives you a competitive advantage over similar businesses struggling with their own brand identities.
- Understanding the brand of the business should set a standard of expectations for everyone involved, saving you both time and effort. No more re-inventing the wheel.
For branding to truly work in your favor, it is imperative that every aspect of your company is reflective of your brand. Any time a person interacts with your brand (phone call, advertisement, driving past your building, getting an invoice, going to an event, and so on) an impression is being made about you that will get added to their personal brand story in connection with your work.
“Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.”
When is branding necessary?
The unpopular truth is that all businesses need to work on their branding. If you are a small business owner, it may be tempting to put off branding until you’ve gotten some success under your belt. However, the act of developing and promoting your brand is what helps you build and grow your company.
For larger organizations that are already established, a branding strategy helps to increase recognition within corporate networks and sales funnels. True success comes from keeping your brand updated, viable, and incorporated into every aspect of your company.
The mere act of putting together a brand is more than just designing a logo and picking colors. In a way, your brand is a promise to your targeted audience. It is a representation of what you stand for as well as a commitment to your customers and community.
Branding for your target audience - it really does work.
In Build a Savvy Brand, you walk through all aspects of brand development, and most small business owners find their “ah ha!” moment when completing the target audience exercises in Module 2. Taking the time to consider your target audience and to really get to know them on a personal level, will help your business flourish in every aspect. You will understand their pain points, and be able to discuss how your product solves their pains on their terms. You will be able to identify new areas where you can reach them - which can lead to new marketing channels or even new products/services, and even potential partnerships with other businesses. But most of all, if your audience “feels” that you understand them, that you communicate TO them (rather than AT them) they will be more likely to become brand advocates.
As a brand advocate, your key target audience groups will:
- become a sales force for your brand
- tell others about your brand (without being asked to)
- become your best customers, and help your small business flourish.
While all business owners, of any size, should take the time and effort to fully develop their brand, focusing on the target audience is a key component that should be looked at in great detail. A brand focused business owner will also look at their target audience group and walk through the exercises in Build a Savvy Brand at least once a year to ensure that they are current on their audiences’ needs, and to identify new potential audience group.
A Note on Rebranding
Does your company already have a brand but you feel like it never got any traction or that it is completely ineffective? While not always a good idea, rebranding is definitely an option for businesses that feel like their brand is not achieving desired results. If the public perception of your work needs to change, then it’s time to undergo a rebrand. Learn more about the rebranding process.
Once you have your brand strategy established, then it’s time to develop your image and marketing efforts. Here are 11 Tips for Branding Design Project Success to read through before you get started.
Are you ready to take the plunge and start building your own brand but not in a place where you can afford a branding or marketing strategist? Become a savvy business owner by building you own savvy brand. Take control and obtain the best possible implementation for your company by purchasing the Bravvy series. Bravvy is for business owners looking for professional tools to guide them through the branding process.