In the business world we are sometimes reminded that we are not always selling our product, but often we are selling our brand. It is a simple idea that has only become more relevant over the years as powerful brands such as Apple®, Nike® and Disney® have shown time and time again just how far a company can go with a strong and unique brand. Your brand is the heart, soul and identity of your business and it’s also the first impression that customers get of your company. There’s a reason why as a child you always wanted Kellogg’s® Froot Loops® instead of the off-brand “Fruit Rings” when the two products taste almost exactly the same. In a sales world where customers really do judge a book by its cover, brand recognition matters. Even if your business is selling a service, rather than a product, the power of your brand could be the difference between someone choosing you and someone else. So why does brand identity matter so much?
It is often beneficial to think about branding in terms of how we brand ourselves as people. We all have unique talents, passions and accomplishments that define us, yet when we meet someone for the first time or are getting interviewed for a job we often only bring the best or most interesting parts of ourselves to the surface. We strive to create a persona that is memorable, just as businesses work to make their brand top-of-mind among customers. In creating a brand identity it’s important to think of what is it that you want to be automatically associated with when people see your logo or hear your company name. Is it superb customer service like Zappos® or Nordstrom® is often associated with? Is it your unique and creative services? Is it your proven results backed by excellent numbers? Is it your modern business model that uses the newest and best technologies and methods of production? Or could it be your dedication to environmentally friendly products and production? While your business may be strong in all of those areas, it is often beneficial to focus your brand on the strongest facet of your business and define yourself based on what sets you apart from your competition. Your logo, website, slogan and more should all reflect that chosen aspect of your business and emphasize it every step of the way to ultimately create your unique brand.
A brand can also carry a message that goes beyond your products and services. A brand can carry the passion behind why you started your business, the struggles you may have endured getting to where you are today or even the social causes that you care about and support. Your company’s personal story is often intertwined with your brand, and works with your business message to leave that desired lasting impression on potential customers. Let’s say you are a start-up company that risked a lot to get to where you are today, you could build that story into a brand that is daring and committed to succeeding, no matter the cost. Or say you’re a family owned business that has been passed down for generations; your brand could involve a message of loyalty, comfort and treating customers like family. Often times a brand that’s inspired by your personal story or journey is the one that connects the most with customers.
In the end, a strong brand creates a business with a high level of trust, which is imperative to gaining new customers and keeping current customers with you for a lifetime. While having excellent products and services is always important, always remember the power of good branding.