The importance of branding; whether you’re a one man band or a large corporate

 

Brand (noun). A type of product/service manufactured/offered by a particular company under a particular name.

From the definition above, you may be mistaken for thinking your businesses’ brand is just the product you sell or the service you provide. But in reality, it’s far more than that.

So, what is a brand?
When thinking about your brand, a good analogy is to think about it as a shortcut. It contains everything that the customer understands and knows about your company, product or service and how you are operating – all in one convenient package.

It’s not just a logo, a signature colour or a catchy a jingle. It’s influenced by everything that you do. From the design of your product and your material choices to the customer service you provide and the ideas and causes that motivate you and your business. Your brand is every little detail in the decisions and actions you take.

Building a brand is about creating an image that instantly pops up into your prospects’ minds and the feeling it is associated with. If you say Coca Cola or Apple – it’s not just the red swirly font or iconic apple that we think about, it’s the associations and emotions they also evoke. Aston Martin as a brand is all about “luxury”, “aspiration” and “being cool”. Ford on the other hand is “quality”, “dependability” and “affordability”. These brands go further than the shape and colour of their logos.

As a business, your goal should be to create the same associations for your target audience so that you can build a sense of trust and loyalty and so that you can help them to shortcut their decision making process.

So what should you consider when looking at developing your own brand?

Here are our top 3 tips:

1. Be more like them
Research shows that, typically, people buy from organisations and people that are like themselves. They make subconscious decisions based on the similarities or values of the organisations they are considering. Organisations that look at their target markets and develop brands that resonate with them will always do better than those who base their branding decisions on what they like and what they think looks good.

Researching your market, determining what other brands they like and buy from and what values they look for will help you to create a clearer sense of what they may want from you. Toyota, when looking to bring a new luxury vehicle to the market, realised that they were not going to be able to reach their target group under the same affordable, mass market brand – so they launched Lexus. By creating a specific brand for a specific customer group they were able to successfully diversify their offering.

2. Give them an easy to identify shortcut
Consumers need shortcuts to make their decisions easier. We live in a world where we are spoilt for choice and shortcuts mean we can be more discerning when making our choices. Not only that, buyers also make assumptions and eliminations based on their perceptions. Just think about the supermarket for a second – if you already know that X brand is organic, Y brand is gluten free and brand Z always make a cereal you love, you are able to make faster, more efficient choices.

So think about what it is that your brand does, what pain point it addresses and what your customers are getting. This part of the process is a little more practical and a little more closely aligned with the actual product or service you are selling. However, it is still based on their needs. Remember, sometimes, your product or service is just a means to and end. It simply helps the buyer to solve a bigger issue they have.

3. Be unique. Be quick. Think differently
History shows that the first brand into the brain gets on average twice the long-term market share of the number two brand and twice again of the number three brand. “Great!” I hear you say. “What does that mean for me, selling into a saturated market with stiff competition?”.

It’s true. Trying to maintain a unique edge that catches the market’s attention and imagination in today’s competitive marketplace is difficult. However, the secret is in finding your niche and your special offering. In the 1920’s, Claude Hopkins helped take Schlitz beer from number five in the U.S. market to neck and neck with number one in just a few months.

At the time, all the beer companies were talking about how “pure” their beer was. There was no differentiation and consumers were simply left to make up their minds based on other factors.

So how did he do it then? Hopkins was the first to explain in detail all of the steps and efforts Schlitz beer went to to ensure their beer really was pure. (See image to the left – the original advert).

In the ads he told the prospects all of the beautiful detail in how the beer was crafted.

“All beer is cooled in plate glass room in filtered air.”

“Then the beer is filtered.”

“Then it is sterilized after being bottled and sealed.”

The fact is, at the time, that was how ALL pure beer was made. However, Hopkins was the first to explain in specific detail why Schlitz beer was pure.

And once he did that, Schiltz was permanently embedded in the market’s mind as being especially pure.

You don’t have to be truly unique in order to become the pre-eminent brand in the marketplace, you just need to think cleverly about how to communicate it differently.

So, as you can see – developing a brand is not just about how much spare cash you have to blow on a whizzy logo. It is about consistency, trust and what you inspire in people. And that most certainly doesn’t need a big budget.

Want to find out more about branding and how it fits into your overall marketing strategy? Get in touch with the team and gain access to specialist support from our expert marketing advisors.