The Importance of Branding - Why Your Business Needs a Brand
In some circles, I run into small business owners that think of branding as a task to check off their marketing list. Not fully understanding the importance of branding, they put it off, justify not doing it, and aren't overly concerned about when it will get done.
This makes me sad and not just a little concerned. They don't know any better and it can be difficult to convince someone on the fly just how essential building a brand foundation and getting brand clarity is for their business.
A big part of the problem is all the confusion there is around what branding is and what branding is not. (I dig deeper into the definition of branding in another blog post). Sometimes the problem is that a business owner has NO idea where to start when it comes to developing their own brand.
The harsh reality is ... even if you haven't done the work to build your own brand, it still exists. You just have no influence over what your brand becomes or how people perceive it. The first step to taking back control of your brand is to understand why it is important for your business.
Your Business Purpose
While branding is about how others feel when they interact or think of your business, influencing that emotional response involves getting clarity about who you are and who you want to be and then building a brand foundation.
"People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe."
You need a purpose. No longer can a company get away with existing merely to make money. Earning a profit is a benefit of building and growing your business - not the reason for its existence. If that's the case, what is your purpose? Consumers, especially those under the age of 30, expect businesses to have a purpose. Marketing doesn't give you a why, neither does sales or business strategy. Only branding will do this for your company.
Competition & Noise
There's so much noise in the marketplace, in your industry, and on the Internet. Even the best SEO strategy won't help you stand out if you are offering the exact.same.thing as everyone else. The truth is that loads of other companies do the same thing you do. They offer the same product or service. If you want your target audience to actually find you in a field of competitive options, branding is where to start.
Plus, we now have the attention span of a goldfish (less than 8 seconds). People don't have the time to click a bunch of links or do research in order to find out more about you. You have seconds to make an impression and grab attention. Branding helps you build a message that you can put out in the world in a clear, concise, and easy to digest way.
Trust & Credibility
Grabbing someone's attention is the task but building trust with your audience is the goal. It's well known that people do business with folks that they know, like and trust. Knowing you is the easy part. You can do that by maximizing your online and offline presence. That is simply an exercise in market saturation. Getting them to like you is about being transparent, authentic and consistently delivering value. However, trust is the tricky part. We are a trustless society. We require businesses to prove that they aren't spammy, that they will deliver on their brand promise, and that they will protect our information.
We cannot earn credibility and build trust by selling our products and services. That's not how trust works. We build trust with consistency, with the proper messaging, by delivering value, with social proof and testimonials. The foundation of it all begins with a clear, concise and consistent brand message and promoting brand awareness.
Evokes an Emotional Response
Science has recently proven that people are emotional buyers. We use logic and analysis to evaluate our choices but when it comes time to take action - there is an emotional motivation or response influencing our behavior. Companies have been using marketing to appeal to buyers for ages but now we KNOW that emotion is the catalyst for converting leads into customers. When built correctly, your branding is the path to engaging your audience on an emotional level and inspiring them to turn their attention into commitment.
Pulls It All Together
A marketing campaign is a silo, built for one purpose and geared towards meeting specific goals. It does not represent you or your company, only your current efforts and offers. Branding pulls together all the elements of your company - your mission, vision, values, promise, identity, positioning - and transforms that into a feeling. This gut response from your audience is how you convince your ideal client to follow you, to consume your content, to sign up for your programs and to buy your products. It's how they get to know you, like you, and trust you. It's the glue that holds the rest of your business strategy together. It's the foundation where you can begin to build something truly special. It's the clarity that allows you to be able to speak confidently and thoroughly about your own value. It's the compass that keeps you on track and guides you in the right direction.
Branding is the cornerstone of everything else you do as a company. The importance of branding cannot be taken lightly. A solid brand will make your job easier, will communicate your message even when you sleep, and will help you approach the world with conviction and confidence. Knowing your message is powerful. Don't underestimate the value of brand clarity and don't skip the work of building your brand foundation. If you need help getting started, I consult with small business owners on their brand strategy frequently. Message me so we can talk about your branding.