Why does my small business need to care about branding? It’s a question that marketers all over the world get regularly. Branding seems like one of those ‘things’ that the big companies do, not the little companies due to the cost and difficulty in appealing to audiences.
Well hold your horses, let’s take a step back and examine the ins and outs of branding, why it’s important, and why every business should lead with a ‘brand first’ mentality -even smaller businesses!
What’s in a brand?
Branding means many things to many different people, and if you asked 100 people the question ‘what is branding?’, you’d get 100 different answers.
For some, branding is as simple as making sure you can put your own logo on a free printable purchase order template. Whereas for others, it about having a full-on branding and style guide that every employee must read and gets sent out to every freelancer or marketing company you work with.
Your Mission, Your Vision, Your Values
Your brand is your outer visuals to the world, and your inner core values that run your business. Think about your brand as your reputation, what do you want to be known as?
Most companies will go with the generic:
‘Be the best coffee shop on the street serving coffee at the best price to as many people as possible.’
That, however, is not a good brand story. Instead, you might consider something a little deeper:
‘We serve great coffee to busy people, giving them a little light in the morning while helping the planet by reducing plastic waste.’
That story much more explains the position you’re taking. It tells the audience three things:
- You are passionate about good coffee
- You are passionate about people and understand they’re busy
- You care about the environment
In nearly the same amount of words, you have conveyed your commitment to three things, your product, your audience, and your wider impact. That’s a much stronger position to be in brand-wise.
Branding Supports Employees
Branding is a vital part of the process for businesses of all sizes because it helps employees create a sense of pride and satisfaction in their work.
Just as great leaders are vital for everyone who works for you, a great brand strategy is vital too.
Many studies have shown that engaged employees who feel part of a team feel like they are making a difference to where they work, and to their wider community. Things such as branded stationery and uniforms in public-facing areas are all well and good, but if that aesthetic is not continued through to staff areas, it can make employees feel like they are not considered as part of the wider company team.
Branding Creates Trust
Just as with our employee example above, good branding can create and build trust with your employees as well as with your audience.
There has been a strong move in recent years for brands to treat their customers more like ‘fans’ than paying customers, encouraging them to get involved with events and promotions as if they were part of the team.
Brands who learn to harness the power of their community are the ones who will survive when external forces, like the looming recession and economic impact of the coronavirus, are making it hard to exist in a competitive market. This can be achieved in many ways, from inspirational keynote speeches to branded merchandise, and even using celebrity and influencer endorsements.
Conclusion: What are you waiting for?
Branding your business is one of the most important things you can do. Once you’ve decided why you are going into business, and you’ve sorted out the legalities, it’s vital that you develop a strong sense of branding and style.
Being clear on your branding is so vital that it should be part of your business plan. You should know why you are going into business, how your business will affect your customers/clients, and what impact your business will have on the wider community and planet. With those key concepts in mind, you can start to build your brand around your answers, letting your position and your values dictate the look, the sound, and the feel of your business.
To conclude, even if your business doesn’t have a premises, if it’s wholly online, having a consistent branding approach will play a vital part in customer retention and customer loyalty.
There’s a reason why every marketing funnel starts with awareness and ends with loyalty. That reason is branding.