Developing strong branding will help your business stand out from competitors, build trust among customers and boost your visibility in the marketplace.
Strong branding involves visual identity elements, helps focus on the company’s mission and vision, serves as a strategic guide and directs marketing efforts saving time and money. It can encompass everything from a name, website, logo, advertising, and business cards to people’s perception of a company’s customer service, reliability and reputation — along with how they feel and think about that company or its product. It could be clothing, food or a service or experience, but it’s why people are willing to pay for quality, integrity and a brand name. Think Coach, Lexus and Rolex. The purpose of a brand is to create an identity that resonates with people; it influences how people perceive you and reinforces the emotional relationship that is at the heart of a truly successful brand.
Why does strong branding matter and how can it impact your bottom line?
- Recognition: Whether you use your face, name or a catchy logo, strong branding improves recognition and helps people identify your business. Creating an effective and unique logo is important because it acts as the “face” of the company, and the simple graphic will be on other materials and advertising. It’s worth investing in a professional logo and working with a graphic designer to develop a design that’s simple, memorable and impactful, yet distinguishes your business. Certain colors, fonts and word choices appeal to emotion and are easier to remember. It’s also worth investing in quality photography and a professional headshot if you plan to use photography on a website or include your picture on your business card. The same photo should be used for all platforms, including social media, website, and business cards, so it’s consistent and easy to recognize.
- Reputation: Image is everything and a professional appearance and brand builds credibility and trust. People are more likely to do business with a company or solo entrepreneur that is responsive, credentialed and established, receives good reviews and referrals, and has a quality website and business cards. Pay attention to details like spelling and other errors. Many small businesses rely on Facebook as a means of promotion without realizing a website adds an element of professionalism and legitimacy, along with a larger web presence since some people do not use Facebook.
- Reach: Where and how you decide to advertise and the target demographic and messaging helps build a brand. Advertising should reflect your brand by using the same colors, logo and similar content. If it’s too narrow or broad of a focus, or you use outdated, ineffective or too costly mediums, a company risks losing out on new markets, wasting money, or failing to create a lasting impression that inspires people to act or at least learn more about your business. A successful ad should be visually appealing, informative and instantly recognizable in relation to your company.
- Referrals: Word of mouth testimonials are some of the best advertising, and people are happy to tell friends and families when they have had a positive experience. Whether you provide a service or sell a product, it’s important that loyal customers as well as new ones leave with a positive impression, remember your brand and share memorable experiences or excellent customer service. They have to be able to find you and be inspired to reach out. This is where branding comes in, helping your company to get referral business.
- Respect: As you develop a brand, think about the entire customer experience, including your business name, logo, website, social media messaging, the way you answer the phone or respond to emails and the customers’ experience with staff and service. You want to earn a customer’s respect and business, a clear brand strategy helps accomplish this. A strong brand connects emotionally with consumers and lives and grows in the minds of potential clients. It can attract customers, increase business and fosters a set of emotions and beliefs customers associate with your company, which translates into loyalty, respect and return business.