What is Branding?

An extract from a web based article by Anita Campbell

 

What is BrandingSooner or later, you will hear the word “brand”. So what exactly is branding and isn’t this something only large companies do? We know how multinationals like Coke, Pepsi, Nike and others spend large amounts of money to constantly remind us in innovative ways about their products. Does branding really matter for a an entrepreneurial start up or a small business…?

 

 

What is a brand?

 

There are many definitions of “brand”. One of the best definitions is “what sticks in your mind associated with a product, service, or organization — whether or not, at that particular moment, you bought or did not buy.”

 

Does an image come to mind about a company, such as its logo or colors? Think about the logo, such as Coca Cola — recognizable the world over, executed in its distinctive curvy script in white against red. And when you see it, do you imagine the effervescence of a Coke, the dark color or how it tastes?

 

Mention the name Starbucks and immediately coffee comes to mind. You know you can expect a certain level of quality. The coffee will be fresh and the the way the coffee place is organized looks the same wherever you go in the world.

 

So when you ask the question “what is a brand” — it is something that triggers associations in our minds. A branding is about an identity. It’s what sets one company apart from another. It’s about the perception people have of the company.

 

Your branding is all the elements that make up a brand. for example:

 

-logo
-packaging
-colors
-reputation for service
-speed of delivery
-self-serve options
-low price
-high quality — etc.

 

The Value of Branding

 

Branding is what generates customer loyalty and gets them to buy repeatedly. Branding also helps with awareness. In a world of infinite choices, branding that helps people remember your company is vital.

 

If consumers are shopping for something and prices for various choices are almost the same, what makes the buyer choose one over another? Nuances and qualitative factors may make the difference.

 

For small businesses, what sets apart the business may be factors such as high quality, craftsmanship, personalized customer service, superior knowledge to help customers make the proper product selections, and similar qualitative factors.

 

The challenge for some small businesses is how to get customers to think of them when it’s time to buy. You want your brand to be associated with positive factors that make it stand out.

 

Branding is not a replacement for sales or specific marketing campaigns. But branding assists and reinforces your sales and marketing efforts in important ways.

 

Can Small Business Afford the Costs of Branding?

 

Actually, small businesses can’t afford not to. Branding can get expensive with television or print media campaigns but it does not need to be:

 

Here are 4 low-cost actions you can start on today to help your small business create, build and reinforce brand:

 

1) Be very specific about what your brand stands for.

 

What’s that “one thing” you want customers to think of, when thinking of your company? You may focus on things like “lean and really fast”, “high quality”, etc. If you can’t figure out how to explain this “secret sauce” that separates your company from others, then your clients will have difficulty doing so as well.

 

2) Audit your marketing materials.

 

Check your website, your Facebook page, your brochures, your ads — every piece of marketing you have. Do you have words in them to clearly convey “that one thing” that you want to be known for?

 

Your marketing materials should not send mixed messages, with brochures emphasizing lowest cost, while your website emphasizes unparalleled quality? Maybe you deliver both, but in that case the combination of both should be conveyed, not one or the other.

 

Is your company name abbreviated in your marketing materials with cryptic initials that customers may not understand? Just because you refer to your company internally by an abbreviated acronym doesn’t mean customers have any clue what you’re talking about.

 

3) Demonstrate it with stories.

 

Stories make your brand “stick.” It’s not enough just to say over and over that “we offer high quality.” Show it! Write up case studies about how you helped a customer with your high-quality solution to solve a problem that no one else could solve.

 

Use testimonials about your product or service from existing clients. This is always a powerful way to assure potential clients.

 

4) Use colors and logos to create visual associations.

 

Do you even have a logo? Are colors consistent? Visual elements are important clues that trigger other associations and help customers remember your business.

 

Branding is not just for large corporations. When customers have seemingly endless choices, branding becomes a crucial competitive edge. That’s the value of branding for small businesses.

 

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