Brand or “branding” is a buzz word you will hear over and over in the business world. What does it really mean? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word brand as “a class of goods identified by name as the product of a single firm or manufacturer.”
This is a simple definition of brand: how people perceive the products and/or services related to your business. However, creating a brand is much more than name recognition or labeling products and services.
Over the next month, I will be writing a blog series on branding and brand development.
The past 70 years have ushered in the savvy consumer. Before this time, you bought goods from the local market, as there were no brand choices. Goods were based on what was available. People would learn who they could trust in their local market places directly by the quality of the products and honesty of the seller.
With the popularity of radio and TV, along with more retail options and more products to choose from, came the marketing movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s. We moved from a limited product selection to a variety of different options from which to choose.
And so began the marketing wars! The battle to get to the heart and mind of the consumer.
Today, the competition is overwhelming. With the explosion of the Internet and digital marketing, every business and person who has something to sell is in the business of marketing, branding and advertising their goods and services to the people most likely to purchase from them.
The Atlantic reports, “The average western consumer is exposed to some 3,000 brand messages a day.”
With so many messages in front of the consumer and so many businesses vying to sell their goods, what is the point of a small business entering into the battle?
I’m glad you asked!
Here are some reasons why branding is important to your business:
1. Branding helps your customers know who you are.
When you are in competition with 3,000 brand images a day, your brand needs to be memorable to the person that is most likely to purchase from you. Marketers call this person your target audience or sometimes referred to as “Buyers Persona” or “Customer Avatar.” It is basically the person that you want to buy your product or service.
Our brains save and files away the images it sees that are most relevant to the present, or something it feels will be relevant or needed in the future. Branding must be memorable.
For example, if you sell baby bottles, you are not going to build you branding around outdoor adventure, because that is the last thing on a new mom’s mind. A good marketing department would seek to create a brand image that correlates with the life stage and needs of the their target customer.
2. Branding lets your consumers more easily identify your product line and services.
The process of branding your goods and services together to give them a cohesive look and feel will help your consumer be able to better identify your product line. This will also contribute to brand loyalty. When a customer is satisfied with one product from your product line, they will be more likely to purchase other products. The opposite is true, too!
For example, my family was recently offered a sample in a health food store of tomato sauce and lasagna by the creator of the product. I did not try the sample, but my kids did and they loved it. I spoke to the lady who started the business and loved her story and personality. So, I purchased the sauce and lasagna to support her and for me to take home and try. It was the most expensive lasagna and sauce I have ever bought (I could have taken our whole family out to eat!)
The next day as I prepared the food, I was totally blown away with the taste and quality. It was better than my favorite Italian restaurant! It was amazing!
I messaged the owner and told her she should be arrested for making food that good! Now, when I see any product with her logo identifying that brand, I will be willing to pay more for it and her other products. I know the quality, like the owner and trust that it will taste great!
I love this brand!
3. Branding sets you apart from your competitors.
We witness brand battles daily from lawyers’ billboards, to washing detergent commercials, to politicians dragging the other political party through the mud. Everyone is trying to one up each another with “I’m better than you.”
However, savvy consumers are going to do their homework to find out who has the best quality for the best price delivered with the best in customer service. We all want the best!
Business owners must do the hard work of telling their story and showing how their products are different. Not just why they are better, but why they are different. What is it that makes the product special for your target audience.
How can you brand your product or service to communicate how your product is different from your competitor, yet be memorable enough to trigger your “customer avatar” to purchase immediately or at least save that image in their brain to buy later?
- How is your brand memorable?
- Identify your customers by creating a customer avatar.
- List how your goods and services are different from your competitors.