‘I don’t need a brand, I already have a logo’
We often hear small businesses say these words and feel an inward ‘nooooooooooooh’
The question I’ve asked is “Tell us about your brand”
Not just their business. Not their growth trajectory and sales plans. This will come, of course it’s absolutely essential. But their brand.
It’s the first question that we ask and in our opinion it’s the most important. So if you take nothing else from this post, it is this:
YOUR BRAND IS YOUR BUSINESS
Without a clear brand, there is no marketing. Marketing gives you the tools to deliver the message of your brand,but if you don’t know what your brand is then often your advertising will miss your target audience.
Put simply – banging out a load of Facebook ads is unlikely to give you the long term sales and growth that you need. Don’t get me wrong, you have to market through all channels but please think beyond the advertising.
And it’s not just marketing, branding is important because it increases business value, gives employees direction and motivation, and makes acquiring new customers easier – and we all know that last one is the biggie!
So now we’re all agreed that brand is everything how do you go about working out what your business brand is?
It’s worth looking at your own shopping habits and those of your friends to see why you buy the way you do. Is there some family loyalty to a certain department store or has your favourite celebrity endorsed a face cream or sometimes do you buy something without even thinking about it? Research suggests up to 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious.
Princeton scientists have also been researching the emotional impact of marketing and say that first impressions form in less than a second https://instapage.com/blog/emotional-marketing. So no pressure!
It’s also worth looking at how some of the big businesses are doing it. My favourite brand at the moment is Aldi. For those who’ve never been (or are hardcore Waitrose and will never switch!), it’s like the new, much better version of Morrison’s but the products are almost identical to the real deal. However, outside of their business model and ability to reduce prices, the way they have created their brand values, tone of voice and therefore their marketing is what has cut through. Their core beliefs are around: simplicity, reliability and responsibility. Their logo is a beautiful reflection of this but the values come directly from the business.
So what else do you think about when you hear the word ‘brand’. Perhaps a slogan?
Nike Just do it, Apple Think Differently and McDonalds are Lovin it.
Do you think Nike just did it? No, absolutely not. They spent years developing a brand personality for the business, identifying their audience and creating a unique point of view. As the brand has evolved, Nike associates its products with star athletes; hoping customers will transfer their emotional attachment from the athlete to the product. It’s not actually the trainers that sell; people are buying into a brand.
In this day and age we obviously can’t ignore social media – when a tweet from Kylie Jenner leads to snapchat losing 6% of its company value (equating to $1.3 billion) it shows you really can’t afford to.
But think about all the social media influencers there are – they only associate themselves with brands that resonate with them, who have the voice and values that they can connect with. This is the fundamental of branding – big or small. Without this, it’s impossible to get a clear view on what your business is, who to market it to, how to market it and how to cut through the clutter and junk of the world of social media.
“So how does all this impact my small business?” I hear you say?
Take a minute to imagine your product is a beautiful red vase you are trying to sell. However, someone down the road is also selling a red vase; it’s not quite the same, but from the outside it looks similar.
Branding is about the need to differentiate you from them. How to get your vase to stand out. How to get people to love your vase and how to get people to therefore buy your vase.
A great brand creates trust, loyalty and an emotional connection. The more you know yourself, the more consistent you are, the greater the brand trust. Trusting a brand is at the heart of all of this. If you know your brand and are clear about what you value, this will in turn make it more likely to develop an emotional connection with customers.
So if we start meetings with a question it’s only apt that we finish this with a few more:
- Who is your ideal customer?
- If you are an existing brand, what do your customers and prospects already think of you?
- What is your company’s mission?
- What makes your brand unique?
- What is the personality of your brand/what words describe your brand?
- What are the greatest benefits of your products or services?