Branding is one of the essential characteristics of any business. Whether you own a neighborhood pizza parlor, hardware store, or any other shop, no matter the size, an effective brand strategy provides you with a significant edge in the always increasing competitive markets. But what does “branding” mean, and how is it supposed to affect a small business like yours?
In simple terms, branding is a promise you make to your customers. It lets them know what they can expect from your products, your services, and you. Branding also differentiates what you have to offer over your competitors’. Your brand is who you are, who you want to be, and whom people see you as.
Are you a trendsetter in your industry? Or are you the experienced, reliable one? Does your restaurant offer a wide selection of delectable dishes to suit any taste? Or are you the helpful hardware owner, who can answer just about any question a customer may have and then direct them to the proper products they need to fix the latest catastrophe in their home? You can’t be all things to all people, and who you are is based, to some extent, on whom your target customers want and need you to be.
Benefits of Brand Strategy in a Monetary Sense
Consistent and strategic branding leads to substantial brand equity. Brand equity is the added value gained by your company’s products or services, which allows you to charge more for your brand in comparison to what identical, unbranded products can. One of the best examples of substantial brand equity is Coca-Cola. Coke has built itself a strong brand that allows it to charge more for its product than a generic brand would be able to charge.
The added value to brand equity usually comes in the form of perceived quality or emotional attachment. For example, Nike uses star athletes to brand their products. The company is basing its marketing strategy on the fact that people want to be like their favorite sports figures, so they are using emotion to sell their shoes. They aren’t only selling the shoe’s features; they are selling the perception of greatness.
Defining Your Brand
Defining and creating your brand isn’t easy; it takes much soul searching and thought. Some of the questions you need to ask yourself include:
- What is your company’s mission?
- What benefits and features do your products or services possess?
- What do your customers already think of your company?
- What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?
It is crucial to do thorough research on your customers’ needs, wants, and expectations. However, be careful not to rely on what you think your customers’ responses will be, but what they are.
When you’ve defined your brand, there are some simple and time tested ways to get the word out, which include:
- Create a catchy logo and place it everywhere.
- Write down the key messages you want to communicate about your brand and make sure everyone working for you is aware of them.
- Integrate your brand into every aspect of your business, including how you answer the phones, your email signature, everything.
- Create a “voice” for your brand and apply it to all of your communications. If your brand is friendly, be lighthearted. If your brand is based on professionalism, be formal and intellectual.
- Develop a memorable, meaningful, and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand.
- Design a template that includes brand standards for all of your marketing material, using the same color scheme, logo placement with an identical look and feel throughout all your branded content.
- Stay true to your brand. Customers will expect this, and if you don’t, you won’t get return customers.
- Be consistent in all of the above suggestions if you can’t remain consistent with your branding; it will fail.