What is Branding?
Branding is all of the ways you establish an image of your company in your customers eyes.
By building a website that describes what you offer, designing ads that promote your goods and services, selecting specific corporate colors that will be associated with your company, creating a logo, and featuring it across all your social media accounts, you are branding your company. That is, you are shaping how and what people’s perceptions of your business are.
And what your customers say about your brand is the reality (not what you’d like them to think). It’s the impression that pops into their minds when they hear your business’ name. It’s based on a feeling they have that is based on their experiences they’ve had with you, good or bad.
What’s the Point?
The purpose of branding is to simply and easily help your customers understand what you offer and how you’re different. But it’s not only a USP (unique selling proposition), it is the combination of all the ways you communicate what you stand for.
In addition to your logo and corporate colors, you can communicate your brand message through:
- Your store environment and atmosphere
- How your staff members treat customers
- How your staff members dress
- The products you carry
- The price you charge
- Product packaging
- Public relations
- Public speaking
- Direct mail
- Nonprofit partnerships
What your customers and prospects take away from all this shapes your trade.
Building a Brand
If your business does not yet have a consistent trade, or you don’t like what your brand currently stands for, it’s time to rebrand. Here are some steps to take to shape public perception for the better:
- Identify what your customers love most about your business. What makes yours stand out? What are your strengths?
- Create a brand message that conveys what your business aims to do for its customers – what you’re best at. Geico promises to save you 15% in 15 minutes. That’s its trade promise. Marriott promises quiet luxury. What are you promising your customers? And are you delivering?
- Make sure your visual elements match your message, and your trade. If you’re promising innovation, don’t use greys and boring images.
- Develop standards for employee dress and behavior that support your trade promise. Make sure they understand what your brand is and can support it.
- Apply your visuals across every marketing tool you use, from advertising to signage to store displays to mailings to shopping bags.
Branding is a complex process, mainly because its success or failure is determined by your customers’ reactions to the act of doing business with you.