What Is Business Branding?
WHAT IS BRANDING & HOW DOES IT APPLY TO YOUR BUSINESS?
Branding is the foremost component when dealing with consumer recognition. Your brand is what people associate with your company, products and services . When customers begin to identify one specific brand with a given product then that is successful branding.
Here is an example. When you think of purchasing a laptop, what is the first image or name to enter your mind? That is the result of successful branding.
If I want a good cup of coffee, I automatically think of Starbucks, if I want to sit down with a friend and enjoy a coffee in a environment I find comfortable, then I think of the Talking Donkey (a local not-for-profit joint with cozy seating, brick walls and pint glasses of coffee). This is the difference in their branding and also in consumer preference and perception.
Branding is the means with which you begin to identify your business to consumers. It is the image you cultivate for your cliental. It is the association that people naturally develop with specific products and services. It is more than just your logo and colour scheme: it includes and relies on your employees, your customer communications day to day, your end products, and your after sales service. Successful companies provide quality products and excellent service. They treat after sales with as much importance as making the sale, because successful companies understand the need for repeat business and customer relationships. This consistency in service from start to finish builds their reputation and establishes them as a brand.
…and here is the crux, the HP could actually be better than an Apple, but people recognize Apple quality, they recognize the logo and everything that comes with it – and that is the second part of branding. Once you have the product, you need to develop the image.
Small Businesses have some advantages in this area. They are better equipped to build consistent relationships because they have less people representing their company and therefore less variability in the image being communicated. Larger companies, on the other hand, need to be able to control the way numerous cells and divisions are representing them. Here is example. I have a newer model truck, from an established company with a reputation for excellent quality and re-sale. The brand recognition is strong, however their local service department has struck out with me three times. Fair or not, the lacking of this one cell of their company has affected the whole in my mind. So much so in fact, that I may very likely purchase a different brand of vehicle in the future simply because of this poor service. Should I judge an entire corporation with good products so harshly based on one small branch’s inefficiencies? No probably not, but will I? Perhaps, and so too will your potential customers.
As a rule the larger the company the more challenging to maintain consistency across the board, yet when these larger companies get it right, they nail it! Apple is a power house thanks to the consistent image they have cultivated. A fruit shaped logo commands attention in our tech-reliant world. Is it because of their slick ad campaigns? Is it this fruity logo? Well sure those play a part, but consumers trust their brand. The quality of their product, their excellent warranty policy and the after sales service have built them up a great reputation, now those great ads with the “Apple Guy and the PC Guy” mean something. Now people are willing to pay a little extra to have that little apple on the exterior of their newest gadget.
Consumers are making purchases based on brand recognition. They are leaning towards what they know and trust. They want their money’s worth and they want assurance/insurance (aka good after sales and warranty). They also want to cultivate their own individual image and brand recognition is a key to just that.
People see an Apple product and are wowed. Not many people walk past a guy with an HP and think “wow, nice gear” – and here is the crux, the HP could actually be better than an Apple, but people recognize Apple quality, they recognize the logo and everything that comes with it – and that is the second part of branding. Once you have the product, you need to develop the image.
This is where a good consultant and a good graphic designer pay off. Never under estimate either of these people:
1. A good consultant will help you navigate the hurdles to develop the strategy that is right for your product based on market research, customer targets and demographics, and the tools available for your budget. The number one mistake for some small businesses is assuming that they can do all of this themselves. Most small business owners are passionate about their business, but rarely possess the skills to approach branding their company in a knowledgeable manner. There are so many avenues to broadcast your brand through that it can be a little overwhelming. A good consultant will be appraised of the available options. The great thing about many consultants, is that they are willing to provide you with the tools you need based on your own unique requirements
Do not underestimate the value that a good designer can add to your businesses branding strategy, they are going to leave an imprint on your brand..
Most consulting companies, and marketing service providers will have one or more trained in house designers. There is great value in batching your consulting and design services together.
2. A good graphic designer is part and parcel with just about every marketing firm, a good designer will set you up with not just a logo, but THE logo – it is what they do. It is the Holy Grail for adesigner to see your logo go viral. The number two mistake for some small businesses is misunderstanding the the power behind good design work. Graphic designers make a point of following design trends and watching the newest in-writ methods behind their craft. They know when to use comic sans (never) and when to use Helvetica (always). They spend their day honing their craft and their nights agonizing over the perfect logo. A good graphic designer can take your brands image to the next level.
For example I once again turn to my friends at Starbucks. Their swag is consistently in keeping with the latest cool looks and colours. They make money not just on their great coffee, but on all of the extras that unquestioningly go along with being a coffee connoisseur (I didn’t just buy my red stainless steel travel mug because it looks sweet, it also keeps my coffee extra hot ok!?)
Hiring a good designer can and will make the difference in your brands success. A good logo, smart design, sharp colours – all of these things draw the consumer’s eye to that invaluable spot – your business.
A strong visual presence in your branding strategy is essential. A good strong logo and design theme can make you immediately identifiable. Name any mainstream brand and you will automatically remember their logo. Good design can provide you with this.
Branding does not need to be complicated and it does not need to be expensive, it does however need to be done right. Companies like Transition Marketing Services can offer unique branding strategies and consultation regardless of your industry.
Creating a recognizable business profile ensures consumer recognition and potential for repeat business.
To simplify it: Your companies visual image, be it on billboards or Facebook, needs to be consistent, the more people see your logo in relation to a goods or service, the more they will associate the two. So people must see your logo and people are more likely to see your logo, if it is cool and catchy, if the colours coordinate, if the type works is appealing and if the overall look is pleasing. Your visual representation can (over time) translate into strong sales so it is worth the investment.
To summarize, branding encompasses a number of facets, but they can all be boiled down to two categories, the foundation (aka your product, service and after sales service quality) and the flag (aka the colours and emblem you raise above your business).
A good branding strategy will make the difference for your business. It will determine who consumers look to, who they notice and who they remember when making that all important purchase. It is a necessary investment for businesses of all sizes and all industries, whether you are in plastics, or food services.
While all important, branding does not need to be all that difficult. There are professionals out there who can help you. If you are not ready to look to a consultant, then Google it (“Google” is now a verb – brand name recognition right there) look up branding, there are a number of articles and blogs (like this one) that give valuable insight into branding concepts.
Still not sure? Think about it some more the next time you are looking for a pair of basketball shoes, filling up your car, paying with something other than cash or sipping a cool refreshing beverage.
Ben Erickson is a Design & Social Media Specialist with Transition Marketing Services – Contact us for a free consultation.