How to brand your business and why you must!

If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ve heard and read a lot about branding. But how does it apply to your business?

First, let me give you two examples of bad branding. You walk into a furniture store with high-quality furnishings, helpful and professional staff, and tasteful decor – then a few days later you see their cheesy-looking newspaper ad, with tacky clip art and bad type. That’s a great product... but bad branding. Your mind now has two conflicting impressions of the furniture store: exciting and tasteful versus cheap and tacky. In an effort to reconcile these two impressions and reduce ‘cognitive dissonance’, your subconscious mind will tell you that the store couldn’t have been as nice as you remembered. The brand is diminished.

Or you pick up a stunning brochure for a weekend getaway, full of elegant images and sumptuous colours. You arrive to discover a humble country-style bed and breakfast, charming in its own right, but not as grand or luxurious as you had anticipated. That’s a great product and great design... but bad branding. People looking for a charming B&B experience would not respond to the brochure; people looking for upscale luxury would respond and be disappointed. The brand is diminished.

Branding is the ongoing process of establishing, reinforcing, and meeting the expectations of your target audiences. First, you establish expectations with your brand identity – the name of your business, the look of your logo, the sound of your slogan, the personality of your business card. You reinforce those expectations with your external communications – your signage, advertising, public relations, and corporate presence in the community. And then you meet those expectations in the customer/client experience – your product and your customer service.

In essence, you are making a promise to your target audience with everything you do and say. When you consistently meet the expectations you have established, and deliver on the brand promise you have made, you build customer satisfaction, loyalty, and repeat business. The brand thrives.

The fact is, branding is more than just the latest theory in marketing science. It is a process that can add dollar value to your business. The big brand names command a healthy premium over no-name generics, quite apart from the quality inside. People are willing to pay more, and pay more often, for a known and trusted brand, so let that known and trusted brand be yours.