Branding is essential for businesses of all sizes. Whether you are a small start-up or a large organisation, branding is the link that connects you to your customers. It is a common misconception that branding is only essential for big businesses that have international recognition and substantial marketing budgets. Branding is just as vital for the small companies who often let it take a back seat.
In actual fact, these small businesses often need to leverage their branding even more so than the well-established organisations which already have a loyal following. If you are wondering what branding is and why it is crucial to your business, then read on for our expert guide.
What is branding?
As a term, branding is often misunderstood and misused among businesses. It is much more than just a logo or colour scheme, and it runs much deeper within an organisation than these aspects. Elements such as a logo and business card work together to form your brand identity. But, this is just one part of your overall branding.
Branding incorporates almost every area of the business and is used to differentiate yourself from competitors and retain loyal customers. It refers to how your customers and your workforce perceive your company and should be the reason behind every business decision you make.
Branding is about how your customers connect with the business across different touchpoints and the voice and personality that your business has. When you look for a designer to create a logo or website, you are asking them to create a brand identity which will reflect your brand, not create a brand for you.
Consequently, businesses should have a brand strategy in place. This should incorporate what the core values are, what the business stands for and what the unique selling points are.
Giving branding a single definition is a difficult task because it is all-encompassing and means something different to every company. Ultimately, your brand is the perceptions and emotions that your audience has towards your business. Branding is the actions you take to create that brand, whether that be through your logo, your website, your ad campaign or your workforce.
Why Is branding important?
Your branding has an impact on every aspect of your business and is absolutely critical to your success. Branding can influence how your audience sees you and works to drive new business and build loyalty. These are just a few of the reasons why branding is vital;
Builds your brand recognition
In order to build a successful brand, you must be recognisable to your audience. When you focus on your branding, you can carve out a unique style for your business which will help to build your brand recognition.
When you grow this recognition, you will become known to your audience, and they will instantly know your brand when they see your logo, advertising or website. This is where your brand identity becomes vital because it is the face of your business.
Helps you stand out from the crowds
No matter the industry you operate within, there is going to be competition in the market. Branding is a great way to stand out from the crowd and let your customers know what makes you unique.
You can use your branding to show customers why they should choose you over your competitors, and what it is that you are doing differently.
Creates a connection with customers and builds loyalty
Building an emotional connection with your audience is vital for success. It is that emotional connection with moves a customer from a one-off buyer to a brand enthusiast. Branding encourages loyalty and builds on that emotional connection. Various aspects of branding, such as your brand voice and colour scheme, can be used to help you create a connection on a deeper level.
Ensures a consistent brand experience
These days there are so many ways that a customer can connect with your company, and branding helps to ensure a consistent experience however they choose to interact with you. That could be through your social media, in person or on your website.
Branding means that you can control exactly how your audience perceives your brand, no matter what channel they are using.
Generates new customers
When you have good branding, it makes generating referral business much easier. A strong brand will create a positive impression among customers, and they are more likely to choose your company because of familiarity.
Branding creates assumed dependability and trust from consumers, even if they have never used your business before. A well-established brand will benefit greatly from word of mouth and customer referrals.
Does branding make me More Relatable To My Customers?
People trust and relate to other people, not businesses. This is why it is crucial that you have branding that is relatable and personal to your audience. If a customer doesn’t trust you, then they won’t invest in your products or services. Branding can help to make your business more relatable to your customers and take you beyond a money-making corporation.
Simply having a brand isn’t always enough to be personable and trustworthy; your brand needs to be a relatable one. The last thing you want is branding that is cold, faceless and corporate. You want to build a brand that is memorable and personable.
It is key to remember that real people create brands and businesses, but often marketing messages feel robotic and insincere. When you can create a humanised brand, you can spark a connection between yourself and your target audience.
Think about big brands such as Coca-Cola, who have successfully humanised their business and built a globally successful brand in the process. Coca-Cola is associated with excitement and happiness. Consequently, consumers choose them for the experience and brand name.
TV viewers across the globe wait eagerly for their Christmas advert to hit the screens, and big-name celebrities have endorsed their products for many years. In recent years, people have been able to buy a bottle of Coca-Cola with their names printed on. This again, makes the brand feel more relatable and personable.
All of these branding tactics have helped to build a brand that is humanised and relatable to its customers.
How should I go about improving my branding?
Now that we have covered what branding is and why it is vital for your business, you might be wondering how you can get started on improving yours. Building a brand takes time and won’t happen overnight. You need to create a brand strategy and incorporate it into every aspect of your business in order to build a strong, recognisable brand. There are a few things you can do to get started on improving your branding;
Check your values
As we mentioned before, branding isn’t your logo and your website; it is your message and values as a whole. Write down what your core business values are, and then check if your website, social media and marketing materials accurately reflect them. Think carefully about the wording, look and feel of all these communication channels.
Once you have defined your values and your unique selling points, you can begin working to make sure all your messaging are consistent and reflecting your brand.
Create Your Media Content
Today, you have the opportunity to expand your own brand through media content. Whether it is social media, podcasts or vlogs, you can get your brand message out there yourself. There is no need to rely on other resources and media channels to share your messages for you. When you are creating your own messages, you are in full control of your branding.
Get help from an expert
Branding is all about how your company is perceived, and looking at that yourself is impossible. Seeking help and feedback from an external source can help you create a clear message for your values, reputation, and brand. They will be able to help you communicate this branding to your audience in the most effective way, and work with you to come up with a unique and compelling brand strategy.
What are the key elements of a brand?
Building a brand strategy requires you to look at various elements of your business. The key elements of a brand are;
- Your Audience: In order to create branding and marketing that speaks to your consumers, you need to understand precisely who your target audience is. Once you know your audience, you can create branding that speaks to them personally.
- Your Promise: Your brand promise should speak to your target audience and tell them what they can expect from your business, services or products.
- Your Values: The core values of your business are one of the most critical elements of your brand. They will define your company and its decision-making process.
- Your Voice: Every company has a different voice, and it helps to define the brand personality. It could be playful and fun or concise and serious; it all depends on the audience you want to reach.
What is a brand personality?
As we mentioned before, people buy from people, not businesses. This is why every brand needs its own unique personality. The brand personality is the characteristics that humanise your business and help your consumers to relate to you. They should be a consistent set of traits which help define your business, your values and your audience.
In general, there are five types of brand personality, but these are adapted and developed depending on the company. The five most common traits are;
Ready to take your branding up a gear?
At branding agency Liquid Creativity our team is on hand to help with all aspects of branding. Whether there’s one area that isn’t quite hitting the mark, you’re rebranding or even starting from scratch; our branding experts can help. We’d love to chat more to find out how we can help. Get in touch with us by calling 03 9329 3888.