Branding can be a big investment for any business, but particularly small ones. As with any investment, it can be scary to take the plunge – it takes time and money to create a strong brand. But branding is one of the most important investments a small business can make.
Let’s start with what branding actually is.
A brand is so much more than a logo – it is an idea or perception created in the consumer’s mind. It’s something that is felt, rather than seen or heard. Sure, they see your logo, or they hear your radio advert. But a brand is something that they feel as a result of all your brand touch points. That includes everything from your logo and your website, to online reviews, customer service, and how you answer the phone. Curating all of these touch points is branding.
Branding encompasses fields such as marketing, advertising and sales too. Without a strong brand, it’s nearly impossible to market, advertise or sell effectively.
Why is branding so important?
People buy brands.
Brand loyalty is a powerful beast. People will pay a premium for a brand they feel a connection with. From the cult-level followings of brands like apple, through to people paying a premium for branded breakfast cereal which is identical to the supermarket versions (literally often made in the same factory to the same recipe) brand loyalty is the biggest tool you can utilise to fuel repeat purchasing.
You don’t want to become a commodity.
Your product or service is probably available cheaper and faster from someone else. But if you have a strong brand this will never become a threat to your business. A strong brand will create product satisfaction and meaning for your customers, ensuring they aren’t swayed by a cheaper price elsewhere.
Emotional connection is where the magic happens.
Good brands connect on an emotional level. Think of that product that makes you happy every time you get it out of the cupboard or medicine cabinet – that’s an emotional connection right there. Research shows that emotion drives the large majority of purchasing decisions. (80%–95% depending on the study.) Find out who your target audience are, what they want, and what drives them, and you can create a brand that will speak to them on their level.
Lower marketing budget.
An exceptional brand is accumulative. If you set it in the right direction it will grow like a snowball. Good branding will save you money in marketing, as it will sell itself. No one likes to be ‘sold’ to these days. Branding should be targeted precisely to your target audience and speak to them on their level, about their needs. This content will not only be consumed favourably, it will be actively sought-out.
Branding helps keep your business on track.
Done right, branding does more than communicate your story to your consumer. Big brands use their branding to appeal to their staff and to drive decision-making – small brands should follow suit. A clear brand strategy provides motivation and direction for your staff. Have a budgeting, product or staffing decision to make? Having a strong brand will help you choose the right direction.
Jessica Croome is a graphic designer and brand consultant based in Perth, but she works with clients all around the world. She loves working with small business and startups, helping them to communicate their story, reach their targets and build their brand. www.jessicacroome.com