Branding is perhaps one of the most misunderstood terms in the business world. Most people think of it as a logo. And, while that’s certainly part of what makes a brand, it isn’t the only thing.
Branding is the personality and heartbeat of your business. It’s what makes you different (us marketing folks call this your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP) and communicates the benefits you offer. And it’s how your employees, customers, prospects and even competitors perceive your business.
Essentially, branding is the lifeblood of your business that should permeate through all of your marketing efforts — everything from your logo, website and entire experience should have the fingerprints of your brand all over it.
When you think about the most iconic brands in history — Coca-Cola, Apple, Nike
— not only do images come to mind, but words and feelings.
That’s what good branding can do for your business.
The other day, a client asked if a new logo would help him land more business.
The answer is yes and no.
By itself, a logo isn’t going to make your phone ring. However, taking the time to develop and hone your brand will make your marketing efforts stronger and help prospective customers choose you over the competition.
It’s like building a house — you’ve got to start with the foundation first. Sure, you can build a house without it, but it will be awfully shaky. That’s why branding and messaging should be the foundation to your overall marketing efforts.
What happens without strong branding?
When you don’t take the time to do develop branding and messaging, you run into these problems:
- You confuse buyers. Businesses that don’t take the time to understand what makes them different tend to throw a smattering of messages throughout their marketing efforts. This leaves customers and prospects confused about who you are and what you offer. And confusion stymies sales. You have to be clear, bold and consistent so prospects know exactly what they’re getting when they decide to hire you.
- You don’t stand out. Being average or ordinary can kill your marketing efforts. If your logo isn’t memorable, how will people remember you? If you don’t communicate the key benefits of your business, why should someone hire you? Giving people a strong visual cue for your company coupled with messaging that conveys what problem you solve can help you differentiate yourself in the marketplace and encourage them to choose you.
- You communicate the wrong message. Oftentimes, what businesses THINK their logo or messaging says to clients and prospects is very different than how they actually feel about it. Maybe your logo is dated or perhaps the symbols or imagery used doesn’t tie in with your messaging. Or, your key messages don’t resonate with buyers. All of these things can hinder your marketing efforts if you don’t fix this first.
So, how do you know if your branding hits the mark?
Ask your current customers what words and images come to mind when they think of your brand (anonymous surveys are great for this). Ask your employees to talk about what they think makes your company different. Look at the competitive landscape to see how you can differentiate yourself.
And, here are some additional questions you can ask to help you define your brand.
Taking the time to do this will help you build a stronger, more attractive brand.
What questions do you have about branding? What do you think your brand says about you?
What are your favorite brands?
Image: I couldn’t help but feature my lovely new letterpress business cards thanks to the
fine folks at AMP: Advocate Marketing & Print!
5 replies on “Why Strong Branding Matters to Your Business”
Excellent advice to generate self-reflection among businesses, Laura.
Pop quiz for telling the difference between what YOU think of your brand vs. what OTHERS think of your brand: what pops into your head when I say, “Hilton”?
Glad you liked it!
And, is it weird that the first thing that comes to mind is Hilton Points? I have friends that only stay there because of that!
What pops into YOUR head with Hilton?
You’re setting me up, right? (And here I thought I was setting you up.) What makes the example so choice is “Paris”.
An insurance group held a twitter chat on branding and advertising in 2011, and when I asked this question (“What do you think of when I say Hilton?”) everyone cracked up, because we were all thinking of Paris. Maybe she was more relevant 2 years ago… if she was ever “relevant” ; )
But the point was the same: how YOU think your brand is defined may not stack up with how OTHERS think your brand is defined.
I’ve heard two different analogies I like for discussing brand:
1: The iceberg. The logo and creative direction of collateral is the part that floats above the water. The part people actually see. But the big stuff is underneath – all that other stuff you describe here.
2: A friend in the agency business tells clients it’s like creating a celebrity. If your organization were a celebrity – who would it be, what would be their profile?
Thanks for including my post. 🙂 took me awhile to get here, but i’m here!
I think both of those are great ways to think about it. I think most people “get” the idea of celebrity and creating a persona, so that really helps businesses think about that.
Also, love the iceberg concept! In fact, I used that image in this post: http://flybluekite.com/2010/10/05/building-your-brand-whats-your-message/
Thanks for stopping by, Lisa!