We live in an age where customers are not always going to be happy just going to the cheapest option, especially in certain areas. Instead, branding is becoming more and more important.
It doesn’t matter if you are a small business, large business, online company, B2B, or anything else. If your brand isn’t on point, customers will be more leery of turning to you in the long-term. Sometimes, this is money you can’t afford to leave on the table.
Of course, this doesn’t answer the question—what is branding exactly? Learn not just what branding is, but all the different ways it seeps into your business’s operations, and how to make sure you’re doing it right.
Branding At The Core
You may hear many different definitions of branding, but a good way to look at it as a promise you make to your customer about your business. Let your customer know exactly what they should expect when they choose your products and services. This will start from where you currently are, but what you want to be and what customers in your industry expect are all going to play a role.
If you are just starting out, your brand may not be super clear as of yet, but as it takes shape, there are a few major points you will want to keep in mind.
- Make sure that your brand matches your target audience. It’s tempting to try and hit all the bases, but no one ever got successful being everything to everyone. Make sure that your messaging lets people know that this is for them.
- Be sure that your brand communicates something unique about your approach. Everyone wants to be a disruptor, but sometimes that isn’t feasible. What is a problem is not having something about your brand that stands apart. If people can’t remember you, how can they use you?
- Take a look to make sure that the values presented match your own as a businessperson. This may sound a bit silly, but sometimes, your original message gets garbled in translation. Try to step back before looking at that new logo or website design and ask: Is this what I am? Is this what I am trying to be? If your answer isn’t a quick yes, you may want to reevaluate your plan.
Branding and Advertising
If this sounds just like advertising, you’re a bit right and a bit wrong. Advertising is one part of an overall brand strategy. If you do it right, your ads should communicate your brand’s message and values. If your ads are good, this will feed back into a desired perception of your brand. Think of Nike, which uses star athletes frequently interspersed with messages about passion and athletic achievement. Their brand message is clear—star athletes endorse our product, but buying our product is a symbol of passion and achievement. Is it any wonder that Nike can charge so much for a pair of Air Jordans when they deliver their message so well?
At the same time, if your brand message is jilted, your ads will show it. For example, if you are selling a product designed for families, but go for an overly professional and slick presentation, there may be confusion. Are you trying to appeal for young mothers or businesspeople? As we mentioned before, you can’t be all things to all people. Learn what your demographics are looking for and hammer those messages into your branding.
Branding In Interactions
Chances are you’ve seen many a company’s conduct or product trigger a reaction on social media so difficult to ignore that the company has to apologize or respond. Sometimes you’ve seen a company make a viral response to a customer online that spirals into positive press for it. All of these interactions and more fall into the general umbrella of social media branding. Social media posts and interactions are like little mini-advertisements in themselves, each one being a chance to prove to a customer—in real time—that you say what you mean.
One example of social media branding working wildly well while staying on target comes from the recent tweets from the Wendy’s official Twitter account that can only be described as “sassy.” From ribbing the Hardee’s Twitter account over a recent promotion to pointing out to a complaining customer how they manage to use fresh, never frozen beef in their burgers, Wendy’s has managed to turn what could easily be a robotic piece of promotion to something truly fun.
Despite the comedic nature of the interactions, there is a valuable lesson here about staying on brand. Wendy’s VP of Advertising, Brandon Rhoten explained that tweets all fit the Wendy’s perception of being a “challenger with charm.” “The intent of the social media team is to represent the brand’s voice as best as they can,” Rhonten told Mashable. “When folks say, ‘roast me,’ we’re going to have fun with that.” While a little bit of banter is perfect, he notes that the representative is ultimately an eight-year-old girl, so there are boundaries.
Sometimes, figuring out how to get your brand message out there can be difficult, especially if you are running a business. For this reason, professional branding services are becoming more and more viable for these needs. To be clear, their job isn’t to discern what your brand is. That can only come from you, and at the end, that is best. Who’s going to know what your company should be except you? Where these services come in is making sure that you communicate your brand message properly. Want a logo for your food business that communicates that you love quality ingredients but are open to everyone? They can do that. Sometimes, a view from the outside is exactly what you need to make sure that your branding and messaging are on point, from the core to your interactions with customers.