Most business leaders agree that branding is important in business. Given the opportunity, they’d like to strengthen their brand to generate more leads, grow sales and increase customer loyalty.
How do you ‘strengthen a brand’? It can get murky at this point... so let’s take a closer look.
First, what is a brand?
There are various definitions… but we like this one:
The expectations you set (or the promises you make) through your communication and behaviour.
We might say a brand is to a business what a personality is to a person.
So a brand is NOT simply your business name, logo, tagline, website, marketing collateral, mission statement, or advertising… though all of these may influence your brand.
Why is branding important?
There are various reasons including:
- Brands endure for a long time. Your team may come and go, you may change your products or services and you may move location but through all this, your brand remains. Brands are resilient.
- People often make purchase decisions based on branding alone. They may not admit this but virtually everyone has bought something (or avoided buying something) under the influence of brands.
- Many businesses with powerful brands attribute their success to branding. In some large, multinationals, for example, brands are listed as valuable assets on their balance sheets because they generate leads, increase sales, attract employees, create a competitive advantage and help you charge more.
- Brands take a long time to build, but they’re also fragile. Brands can be destroyed in a very short time so it’s best not to neglect branding.
What are the components of a successful brand? Here’s what we need to do well in order to succeed with branding:
- Build a reputation. A brand is BOTH the promises you've made AND the promises you've kept. Third-party validation is the most powerful indicator of a good reputation. If your clients and partners are saying good things about you, you’re on track.
- Be visible. People need to be aware of your existence and what you can do for them. Ensure your marketing communication reaches your target audience.
- Be relevant. Make an impact that matters to your target customer.
- Be aspirational. Make people excited by what you do and who you are. Make them WANT TO associate with you.
- Define your target client. Successful brands are designed FOR SOMEONE, not for everyone. It’s much easier to be reputable, visible, relevant, and aspirational for a very SPECIFIC group than for the world at large. Narrow your focus.
How can businesses realise the potential of their brands?
Some established businesses will REBRAND, meaning they take an entirely fresh approach to branding.
Most businesses will focus on building their existing brands. That means reinforcing the brand by enhancing reputation, visibility, relevance, and aspiration. There is no formula to this… but focus on a few things and track your results.
Finally, distinguish between your EXTERNAL brand (how the world sees you) and your INTERNAL brand (how your team sees you). Internal branding is crucial in order to attract and retain the best employees. And we want those employees to ‘live the brand’ because that helps us to deliver on the promises we have made to customers.