This is the second post on the benefits of branding, so if you haven’t read the Part One, you can catch up here. Basically, I want to help you understand what terms like “branding” and “identity” mean, and why they are crucial concepts for anyone who owns or influences a business.
Branding is simply playing an active role in the way your business or entity is perceived. In the last post, I explained that the alternatives are either not determining how your business is perceived, or just doing it poorly. The truth remains that if you aren’t molding the public’s idea of your business in a perceptive way, you’re missing the mark.
Does it take skill to navigate the roads to a better brand? Of course; and it helps if you have a professional to show you the way and give you the necessary tools to set you apart from the rest. But just how much of a difference can branding make? In a world where most businesses scoff at the idea of branding [those that aren’t huge conglomerates who understand the importance of a good brand—coincidence? I don’t think so!] you can make a huge impact on your market just by simply caring about the way your business appears to the consumers around you.
The first, and most obvious, benefit of having a well-crafted brand is recognition, or awareness. After all, this was the goal of branding from the very beginning. Cattle were marked, or “branded,” with a distinctive letter or shape to ward off thieves and ensure the livestock was associated with a certain owner and property. It wasn’t long before a brand started to be associated with quality and other consistency factors. People began to realize that they could “say” something about whatever they were selling without actually saying anything at all. Their very name or trademark preceded them in terms of demonstrating the value of their goods or services to the public.
That’s what you want as a business. You want that assumption of quality, that assumption of needs met, just by the mere mention of your name or a flash of your logo.
Being able to stand for something more than your product
You might not think this means much for a business, but in the culture and markets we are a part of right now, it is invaluable. To be an advocate for something bigger than just what you’re selling means you are connecting with people who agree with you. If you, as a consumer, are passionate about sustainable energy and advancing technology, you’re probably going to be inspired by Tesla Motors. It’s the values that attract consumers to your product, not the other way around.
A visual identity expressing your values when you can’t
This should be a really eye-catching point for salespeople. When a brand is developed correctly, it will sell for you. If you think logos are just nice looking graphics that make your remodeling business look like it’s not some guy with a miter saw in his garage, you are unaware of the effect branding has on you.
Correct branding will connect with the ideal customer you’re trying to reach, and convey the passion, position, and personality behind your brand. Do you realize how significant that is? That means you don’t have to do as much work selling your brand because your consumer already understands what you’re all about. That is huge!
Equity beyond your revenue and assets
At a certain point, your brand is considered a business asset, and even given a monetary value. That speaks for itself when it comes to the value of a brand—when you’ve built a good one, it allows your business to be worth even more than your revenue and tangible assets.
Keeping up with the market
I know I write about this a lot, but the market is changing. Constantly. That is one of the most important things to understand about running a business today. Things aren’t like they used to be, and they’ll be even more different tomorrow.
Having an established brand allows you to, first, have a jumping-off point, a recognized identity for your brand that you can modify as you need to. If you don’t have that, you’re set up to get squashed by the changing market because you don’t have the foundation to weather that storm.
Learning more about your customer
Maybe the second most valuable benefit of branding is being able to learn more about your customer. Why? These are the people you are trying to please. Some people might perceive this as a little too altruistic, but those people don’t realize your business exists because of your customer. I mean, your entire business was started to solve a problem for that customer, right? So you would think any business owner would want to know more about the person they are selling to.
For a business of any age, any maturity, or any industry, gathering data about the people who need your product is essential. Too often, companies assume they know who they’re selling to because they did the research 10 years ago, or they remember something one salesperson said one time about demographics. It’s time to get some real information. Take a survey on your website. Set up an interview with a customer. Whatever it is, make sure you are doing all you can to find out more about this person who needs your product.
Simplifying the decision making process
A benefit of establishing a brand that I like to talk about is making business decisions easy. I have a feeling this is a major fault amongst the newer online startups, hence so many of them not making it in their first year. When you don’t have a predefined core of values, anything goes. You could literally make any decision you wanted to with your business and it wouldn’t be wrong. That’s right—the worst decision ever could seem right at the time. But what if you had a brand compass? A set of rules that informed you about where to go based on the rapport you established with your customer? That is your brand.
A chance to audit every aspect of your business
For existing businesses, crafting your brand is a chance to evaluate the worth of every part of your organization. Similar to the point above, you have a chance to compare all the nuances of your business to the values set you’ve created for yourself.
If you’ve been around awhile, chances are you have some paperwork, processes, or even departments that could use some consideration. Are you doing things in a way that makes the most sense? Are you using people to their fullest potential? Are your processes allowing your customer to get the most ideal representation of your brand? These are all things you can evaluate once you have a concrete foundation for your brand’s identity.