What is Branding
Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, said it best, “branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”. With internal and external branding efforts, a business is able to craft its own public perception to engage and resonate with the target audiences.
Internal branding is part creating universal understanding and part modifying employee behavior. To create this universal understanding, employees should know the purpose of the company, service, product and culture. This means ensuring everyone in the company understands the company values, promises, and standards of excellence they must uphold. And although, everyone will understand how they can contribute, not everyone will uphold the standards of excellence you set. This is where you have to step in and reinforce the values of your brand.
Internally branded businesses are businesses with employees that understand how they contribute to a company’s success and you end up with an internal structure that is focused on the customer and the success of the business. At this point, work processes develop to help your business operate like a well oiled machine.
Externally, what branding does, is allow people to understand what your business is about and form an emotional connection. If you look at all the great brands and companies that are out there and have been around for years, 100% of them continuously work on their branding and understand the importance of branding.
External branding helps you control your audience’s perception of your business, and to position it in a way that allows them to connect at a deeper level and develop loyalty.
Why Small Businesses Should Use Branding
Smaller businesses tend to not like the idea of branding because they are so often focused on only the numbers. Things like calls, clicks, and form leads. These metrics are of course very important, but these are short term metrics. Branding addresses the long term and it’s what can help your business survive when the market is down. Small businesses can greatly benefit from branding because it allows your company to be recognizable and separate from others in your industry. Being identifiable makes your business memorable and approachable to the customer. For smaller and larger businesses, alike, branding is a must.
For local businesses that want more foot traffic or to obtain more leads, a strong brand can do this for you. It’s likely you already have a focus on advertising, but advertising pushes a message out and places it in front of the right people. Branding, however, pulls in both new and returning customers because brands develop reputations and display values that resonate with audiences. On top of that, brands make your advertisements more influential and memorable. So even if a customer passes on an offer, your business can be at the top of their mind when they do need a service you offer.
Branding Happens With or Without You
Here’s a little known secret, your brand will develop over time whether you want it to or not. If you don’t strategically brand your own business, then your brand will still develop passively, but it might not become the brand you envisioned.
If you do not make any efforts to look a certain way or communicate a certain way, people will automatically start judging your business on aspects like whether or not your website looks professional and functions correctly. Companies are often judged on their employee attitudes, their service, their appearance, and overall professionalism. When you allow branding to be built without you, it becomes easy for people to assume you’re an amateur, you’re just getting started, or you don’t even take your business seriously.
And although none of that may be true, the consumer is very judgmental. If you see something that’s just put together in Microsoft Word and marketing materials, then they already assume that you’re not established, but if you appear established, you will begin to build trust. You’ll be able to give the first impression that you know what you’re doing and that you take your business seriously. Now leads are more likely to work with you versus someone that looks like an amateur and not trustworthy.
The Take Away
Branding matters and is why the “big businesses” understand the importance of branding. They put so much money into branding because they know strong brands always receive a return on their investment. What makes brand identities so valuable is that branding makes businesses more approachable, more trustworthy, more memorable, and a strong brand is something every business should strive for.