February 8, 2019
Oftentimes, small businesses make the mistake of focusing solely on their product or service, without simultaneously establishing and building their brands. Branding by definition is, “the process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product ‘or service’ in the consumers' mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.” (Businessdictionary.com).
It is important to remember, although branding is primarily driven through purposeful & direct marketing & advertising efforts, that is only a part of what establishes your overall brand. Your name, logo, colors, business cards, website, everything you do & everything you put out into the universe with your business’ name (directly & indirectly) becomes a part of your brand, & therefore equally, if not even more important. (This includes your personal brand & image portrayed both in person and on social media!)
The 3 basic elements of branding...image, differentiation & consistency!
Image - The impression in the consumers' mind of who a company is and what it is all about. They key word here is "impression"...the consumers' impression of your brand comes from the totality of everything they see or hear about it, whether factual or not, & determines how they perceive your business.
Differentiation - What makes your business special or unique in your industry? Why should they buy from you vs. your competitors?
Consistency - It is imperative that your message & actions are in unison and everything you do conforms to the identity you seek to establish for your brand. Conflicts or inconsistencies will only cause confusion, thus hurting your brand, making it impossible to gain consumer loyalty.
Walter Landor (branding and consumer research pioneer responsible for some of the most recognized brands today, such as Coke, FedEx, Frito-Lay & Levi's) once said "products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind." His words are just a prevalent now as they were some decades ago when first spoken.
Branding is key in the building, growth & continued success of any business. It is the connection, or lifeline if you will, directly to the consumer. Without it, McDonald's would simply be just another burger and fries restaurant, Walmart would be just another value retailer and Apple would still be...well, just another fruit. (smile)