A brand is the current view of the customers when they think of your company. There are a lot of different things that go into a brand, including:
- What you do. Is your company an athletic equipment manufacturer, or a gourmet food distributor? Do you generate more sales to other businesses, or are you more of a consumer sales business? Do you engage in clothing retail? These all deeply influence your brand.
- How you do it. Do you make most of your sales in brick and mortar stores, or do you ship your products? Does your company have a different design philosophy that sets it apart? Do you have a reputation for reliability and longevity?
- Who your customers are. Your actual customers will help to define your brand more than other aspects. If you’re a cologne maker, and your primary buying demographic comes from a particular age and earning bracket, that’s going to effect how your product is seen “in the wild.” Think about the difference between designer fragrances, and “body sprays” that are targeted, and sold, differently. Both have the same relative goal of creating unique scents that are well liked, but one is going for the $120-per-bottle buying market, and the other goes for the $4-5 per bottle buying demographic. There are some vast lifestyle differences inherent in that divide.
Your marketing will, or at least should be, a reflection of these three factors, among other things. The important thing to establish is why customers should be interested in your products or services over your competitor’s. If you set yourself apart earlier in your company’s lifespan, it’s much easier for you to establish that brand, but it could be more difficult to garner initial consumer confidence as well. People like the familiar, but not too familiar.
What are the Benefits of Branding?
Make no mistake; branding is not a passive thing. There are many different steps involved in building a powerful
brand, and they all require your consideration and your attention to gain the biggest positive impact on your respective market. Here are a few different reasons your brand matters.
- It’s how you’re recognized. Your brand is what people have in their minds when they think of your business, and if that recognition is positive, your sales will be just be better by that default.
- It’s the “DNA” of your business. Brands don’t usually spring up overnight and get huge success. Many are built upon the actual work that you do, the people that work in your company, and the important differences that you bring to the table. Some brands are built on long histories of style and cutting edge innovation, and others are built on reliability and being the “standard” name in a given industry.
- It helps you attract better employees. Think about how many people want to work for Google, just based on the fact that it’s Google, and you understand why it can get some of the best minds in the industry. Along with strong recognition, a brand also gives clout to employees, which motivates them to perform on the job, stick with the company, and build their own reputation and personal brands off the back of your own. In other words, it’s a tide that can raise all ships, and that quality attracts the attention of people who want to benefit from it.
- It keeps your customers engaged. In some industries, your regular customers can account for as much as 80% to 90% of your overall revenue every year. Engagement is what makes that work, and brands are all about engagement, just as much as they are about getting new customers. A good brand will be the first thing that a customer thinks about when they need to refill their ink, buy a cup of coffee, or replace the workstations in their office. It’s the first thing on their mind when they’re hungry or thirsty, and reinforcement of that brand means that effect extends to the people around your customers. Branding is very much about social anchoring and accumulated benefits.
If you aren’t already looking into brand management and support, then think again. It could be the difference between a company that’s just run of the mill, and the one that everyone wants to keep an eye on as it progresses in an industry. Best of all, your brand can act as a sort of “cost free marketing” once it’s up and running on its own. By having a solid reputation as a business, a readily identifiable logo, and a product that does what it advertises, your sales can rely just as much on what you actually do as a company as it does on what any PR firm could ever deliver.