If you own a business or you're trying to run or start a business, you have probably come across the term "branding" at least once in your research. In fact, chances are quite good that if you've been researching marketing methods, you probably have come across this concept many times.
If you're not building a brand, you're losing out. It doesn't matter how small or large your business is, it doesn't matter what kind of service or product you offer, you need a brand strategy.
What is a brand? It's a distinct identity that separates you from your competitors. Brands have an associated set of values, company vision and product or service qualities. Let's put it this way, when people encounter a brand, they use it as a shorthand for a wide range of values and qualities that they look for in a particular business.
For example, when you look at the golden arches of McDonald's, what kind of ideas go through your mind? Chances are, you're probably thinking of cheap, fast food with uniform quality and service. Regardless of where you are on the planet, if you walk into a McDonald's, you can rest assured that you will get a certain level of food quality and customer service.
Tastes can differ regarding whether the service and food quality is good enough, but people can all agree that McDonald's delivers standardised quality. Now, if you like McDonald's level of food quality and service, then that's exactly what you would seek when you see a McDonald's store or logo.
Let us compare this with a non-branded frozen burger patty stack you see at your local supermarket. Since there is no brand, it's anybody's guess what the quality is. Additionally, even if you like the quality, there's really no assurance that you can find that generic patty again and get the same level of quality.
Keep this in mind when you go about developing your brand, you instantly develop a certain level of expectation, and from this grows a brand community or following. This can go a long way in taking your business, no matter its current size, to the next level.
To quote Robert Kiyosaki, “if you are not a brand, you are a commodity.” Quite simply, you don't want your product or service to be viewed by your target audience as a commodity. If your audience get the impression that whatever it is you're selling can be provided by other businesses, then you are going to be engaged in a race to the bottom.
Consumers will ask how much you charge and instantly compare your prices to somebody else as they look at your product or service like any other. Whatever quality you bring to the table is going to be roughly the same as the quality that they would get from another provider.
Branding Enables You to Do the Following
When you build a solid brand, you are able to build a loyal base of customers. These customers associate certain qualities to your brand. They seek out your brand because they use it as a shorthand for these qualities, values and features.
They will continue to demand your brand even if there are cheaper alternatives. Your brand enables you to charge a premium. It also makes it easier for customers to refer their friends and family to you. They only need to mention your brand.
If you have built up a solid brand identity, it is far easier for your business to develop important industry alliances. You have to remember, birds of a feather flock together. Winners like to hang out with other winners. If business leaders in your industry appreciate the power and credibility of your brand, they would want to develop and grow their business with you.
It can involve cross promotion, it can lead to lower supply costs. All sorts of positive business possibilities are on the table, and it all can be traced to the fact that you have a brand and your competitors don't.
Finally, look at your brand as a marketing battery. When you first begin your business, you're going to put in a lot of time marketing it. You want to spread the word. You want clients to hear about what you have to offer and want to do business with you.
If you build a solid brand and marketing strategy, people will seek you out. If you've done such a great job in having people associate certain values and qualities with your company, you will be able to build a reputable business with a client base that can act as your brand advocates, spreading the word about your business because they have trust in it.
You Must Adopt the Right Brand Strategy
To make all of this happen, you have to adopt the right brand strategy. This is crucial. Just because you know the importance of creating a solid brand, it's not a strategy. That's not going to work. Instead, you have to be systematic and methodical.
First, you need to select your target market. Second, you need to do intensive customer intelligence and competitor research.
You have to understand your ideal client’s habits. You have to figure out what their preferences are.
Thirdly, your marketing messages must flow from the type of brand you want to build. Now, that brand identity, then stems from your market research. You have to base whatever set of values you want to establish on solid customer intelligence.
Build your business on the bedrock of your customer's objectives and direct your brand messaging in a consistent manner that speaks to the needs of your audience.