As a small business, a strong and memorable brand will continue to work for you long after the doors of your shop have closed for the day.
If you think of a large-scale business or corporation like Coca Cola, no doubt their brand will be front of mind. Not only does the company logo spring to mind, but so too do associations like cool, energetic, refreshing and fun. Their branding also evokes emotions and memories of warm summer nights, fun-filled family bbqs and holidays with friends by the beach. Coca Cola has branding down pat that’s for sure.
In the case of small businesses, branding can also work like it does for larger corporations, that is it can help the consumer to associate your business with a feeling, outcome or quality. Many small businesses don’t see themselves as a brand and that’s where they go wrong. Don’t overlook the importance and impact of strong branding because it can continue to work for you long after the doors of your shop have closed for the day.
What is branding?
First things first – branding is more than just creating a logo. A good brand goes beyond a logo. A good brand creates associations. If you run a small print-company, do you want to be known only as quick, cheap and low quality or do you want to be known as reliable, friendly and great value for money? The answer no doubt is the latter. If your brand makes people associate your business with these attributes they will be more likely to make a purchase from you.
Further, being reliable, friendly and great value for money makes the customer feel happy, satisfied and good about the purchase they’ve just made – these emotions will be stirred when the customer sees your brand and they will be more likely to return. In short, you want to create emotion when people see your brand because emotion drives purchasing decisions in most people.
Branding = Recognition
While branding goes beyond your logo, you should still put in the time, effort and money required to have a logo professionally designed. It needs to have impact, it needs to be memorable and it needs to make people feel how you want them to feel about your company. For example, if you are a company that makes and sells weight loss shakes, you want a logo that represents healthy living. A silhouette of a slim person running will do just that.
Branding beyond a logo
Creating a campaign, with your logo plastered all over it and your product or messaging at the forefront will go one step further to building a strong brand that people will remember for the right reasons.
Think of all the commercials on television and billboards you see advertising cars. They usually depict long, winding roads in the country, or traffic-free city driving and happy, stress-free drivers at the wheel with smiling passengers. Car manufacturers want you to associate their motor vehicle with feelings of happiness, and if emotions drive purchases, them consumers will want to buy a car that makes them feel happy.
If you are a smaller business, for example one that sells pet accessories, you wouldn’t use aggressive dogs or homeless cats in your campaign. You’d use well-looked after and groomed pooches, walking obediently with their owners and playing with children at the park. These images evoke feelings of happiness, creating positive family memories and promote pet cleanliness.
Branding increases value
Building a strong brand also goes a long way towards increasing the overall value of a business. A strong, recognizable brand is often developed over time – it doesn’t just happen overnight. A future buyer of your business will see the work that has gone into brand development and be excited by a strong brand in the marketplace. A strong brand is therefore an important asset that can increase the value and selling price of a business.
Branding attracts quality staff
People want to work for a company that has a positive image and produces high quality products or solutions. When staff feel like they are part of a successful team they will be happier and fulfilled with their job and inspired to meet the high quality and standards your business and brand stand for. A strong brand is essential for positive employee morale and productivity. For all these reasons, it is important that your employees are well versed in what your brand stands for and what the key attributes of your brand are.
Branding brings in new business
A strong brand that is memorable will bring in new business the old-fashioned way – word of mouth! If you’ve bought an amazing new set of golf clubs or a super comfortable baby carrier you’re highly likely to tell your friends and family about it. A brand that is memorable will go a long way towards bringing in new business without you having to spend any extra marketing dollars because happy consumers will do all the selling on your behalf.
Creating a point of difference
If you operate in a busy space, you need to stand out from the crowd. What do you offer consumers that your competitors don’t or can’t? Identify what that is and use it to your advantage. Incorporate it into your brand, logo and tagline. A strong brand will not only help consumers remember you over your competition, it will showcase that you offer more value, better quality, faster service – whatever it is you want to be known for.
Communicate your brand’s values
Values are hugely important in business today because people want to align with a business that shares similar values to their own or which are looked upon favourably by society at large. To identify your company’s values, start by writing down what’s important to you. For example, your business might place a huge emphasis on being environmentally friendly. In that case, you should let people know that your company aligns itself with this value and how you go about implementing it everyday, like using green energy in your office, only buying recycled paper or volunteering to clean up the local area. Letting people know that your business cares about the environment will help them associate this value with your brand.
Whether large or small, the businesses that are most likely to succeed are those that are memorable for the right reasons. If you are producing an amazing product or offering a high quality service don’t let yourself down by forgetting about your brand. Products and services will get the attention of consumers but a strong brand will ensure that they keep on coming back.