The Basics of Branding
Whether large or small, branding ranks as one of the most important aspects of any business.
A successful branding strategy will provide your business a significant edge in today’s increasingly competitive and constantly evolving marketplace. Unfortunately, many small business owners hear the word “branding” without fully understanding what exactly it means and how it can affect their business.
In essence, your company’s brand is a promise to customers. It informs them about what they can expect from your products and services, and it helps differentiate your business from the competition. Your brand is distilled from who you are, who you strive to be and who people perceive you to be.
Are you the outside the box thinker known in your industry for taking risks? Or do you carry the reputation as the steady stalwart of dependability and measured action? Are your products the high-quality, high-cost option, or the high-value, low-cost alternative? You can’t wear every hat, and you can’t be all things at once. How your business is seen should be based somewhat on who your target audience wants and needs you to be.
Your logo is the foundation of any brand, while your packaging, promotional materials and website – all of which should prominently feature your logo – should communicate your brand to the public at large.
Brand Equity & Strategy
Your brand strategy is the when, where, what and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering on your brand messages. What advertising avenues you decide to take are part of your brand strategy. Your distribution channels are as well, and so is how you verbally and visually communicate to your target audience.
Consistent, strategic branding creates a strong brand equity, which means additional value is added to the services or products your company markets that allow you to charge more for your brand than what an identical, unbranded product could command.
The most obvious example of this is a generic brand of soda vs. Coke. Because Coke carries a powerful brand equity, it can cost significantly more than a generic equivalent, and consumers will willingly pay the additional cost.
The additional value that comes from brand equity commonly comes in the form of emotional attachment or perceived quality.
Nike, for example, links its products to star athlete endorsements in the hopes that consumers will transfer their emotional attachment from their favorite player to the shoe they endorse. For companies like Nike, it’s not just the quality of their shoes that helps sell their products.
Defining Your Brand
In many ways defining your brand is like the business equivalent of a journey of self-discovery: difficult, time consuming and just a little uncomfortable. It requires finding answers to some of these questions:
- What is your company’s mission?
- What features and benefits of your services or products?
- How do potential new customers and existing prospects view your business?
- What qualities do you want your target audience to associate with your business?
Start answering these questions by doing your homework. Identify the current habits, wants and desires of your target audience. Don’t rely on assumptions of what think your audience wants. You need to know what they want and how they think.
Since the process of developing a brand strategy and defining your brand can be complicated, consider hiring a small business marketing firm like Local Fresh to handle these complex topics for you. We can help you design a compelling and original logo, identify your target audience and focus on developing and spreading your company’s brand message while you focus on running your business. Click here to find out more about what Local Fresh can do for your business.