In the world of business, branding is everything. In an ultra-competitive environment, the biggest challenge for businesses is standing out from the crowd. Think about all of the advertising you see around you every day. How many of them can you say truly catch your eye? Even more importantly, how many of them can you remember when you get home? Or a day later? A week?
This is the challenge of branding. Get it really right, and there’s a chance that everyone in the country, and maybe beyond, will know who you are. GoCompare, anyone? But get it wrong, and your business might end up a flop. A drab website, a clunky logo, an awkward advertisement, and people might even be turned off by your business, especially if the demographics you’re targeting are conscious about who they patronise. Here are a few key reasons why it’s important to have a strong brand.
Who Are You?
Business is a big pond, and most businesses are small fish. Your branding can’t turn you into a bigger fish, that may come later, but instead of being a dull trout, you could be a striking, orange and white clownfish, or a bright blue and yellow regal tang. Branding that sticks in people’s minds, and clearly conveys who you are as a business and what you do, is what’s going to win your business leads and customers. It can be something as simple as theming your branding in an unconventional way or using an image or a song that people already recognise but in a new way.
Takeaway businesses, for example, often ape the popular fast-food chain KFC, and name themselves something almost identical in an attempt to capitalise on the public’s preexisting knowledge of fast food. Anyone who knows what KFC is might be assured that a similarly-named takeaway will offer similar products.
Similarly, the convention of solicitors naming their businesses after the surnames of the owners helps them to quickly establish a professional and straightforward tone for their business, and it draws on a centuries-long naming convention that elicits the idea of stability and longevity in the minds of onlookers.
Strong branding also allows your business to pick up customers faster through the rapid building of trust. For browsing customers, your branding is the very first thing they will experience about your business. Even if your products are second-to-none, it won’t matter if no one is walking through the door.
Your logo, your advertisements, and the public face of your company need to strike a careful balance between standing out and fitting into your industry. Legal firms with wacky branding will certainly stand out, but no customer is going to trust a legal firm that looks as though it spends more time designing colourful branding than engaging in professional legal practice. Similarly, if you’re running a children’s play centre, muted and minimalistic branding isn’t going to make any parent assume that their child will enjoy what you have to offer.
It’s important to fit your branding within the expectations of your potential customers, while also adding small differences that will help you to stand out. Finding this balance requires a lot of market research, and careful thought and attention to all of the possible implications that your branding might elicit from customers. The price comparison site GoCompare might have made it big by irritating the hell out of everyone with a working TV, but that’s a high-risk strategy that often works entirely by accident. It won’t work for everyone, and it could spell disaster for your business.
The lifeblood of any business is its employees. These are the ambassadors who will be the public face of your company, representing it when you’re not able to do so directly. These employees will also be scrutinising your branding as they look for jobs. More and more nowadays, people are looking at work as not just something to put food on the table. People want to be truly involved in the businesses where they work, they want to be the envy of their friends and neighbours because of the strong reputation of their workplace. Your branding is the seed that will allow this eventuality to grow, and become reality.
If your business relies on sales, strong brand identity will allow your employees to cut the wheat from the chaff when they’re making calls. If your company is recognisable, there won’t be any need for a five-minute explanation of who you are and what you do to take up valuable time that your employees could be using to build relationships, generate opportunities and land sales.
More importantly, if your branding successfully communicates your mission to your employees, then they don’t just have a place at which to work, they have a place where they can work towards something. Helping you achieve your business goals is the entire reason why your employees are there, and if your goals are clearly communicated, internally and externally, then your employees know what direction to run in, and your business can operate like a well-oiled machine.