Are you considering setting up an online business and you don’t know if branding should be part of your strategic plan? There’s a lot of confusion around the term “branding”.
People often link this concept to many different notions. But what does branding really mean? And, is branding really important for your business? When looking out for information it might be a little bit overwhelming to understand what branding actually involves.
Well, let’s start to narrow this huge circle by explaining what branding isn’t.
1. What Branding Is Not
Branding is not a logo, a logo is a very useful tool but it’s not the brand. It’s a symbol for the brand. The Brand is not a product. When you’re buying a product you’re not buying the brand. So it’s not correct to talk about “buying a brand” when you mean that you’re going to buy a specific product. How many times have you heard that a brand is “a sum of all the impressions that a company makes on an audience”? None of these associations is what branding really stands for. Branding goes way beyond just a logo, a graphic element or a product.
2. Understanding What Branding Really is
A brand is a result
As Marty Neumeier explained, a brand is customers having gut feelings about a product, service, or company. It is the result of all the actions and decisions your organization will make – not just the one about what to call itself.
A brand is a reputation
It’s customers’ reputation and this reputation can slightly change from one another. A favorable brand reputation will lead consumers to lay their trust in your brands and offerings.
A brand is a perception
It’s customers’ perception about you, about what you are doing. The key with branding is that perception is reality. What consumers perceive of your brand is your true essence. This is the reason why branding needs a good initial planning but also an always on effort.
Companies and designers often think that a brand is just about telling a story, but a brand is not that. It is the result of that. By understanding this concept you’ll already be a step further. Businesses should focus on the perception and reputation their brand has created through all those concepts that we’ve just mentioned. Through products, design, messaging, employees… all this stuff matters because everything in the company may affect the brand. When thinking about branding your business you should consider the whole customer experience. This is what will really define your brand. In the modern world a brand is no more built exclusively on design but on expectations and experience. Design and graphics are important but, be careful, they’re not the brand. As Jeff Bezos once said “a brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room”.
3. Brand vs Business
All these concepts lead to an important distinction, the one between brand and business. People might ignore there’s actually a difference between these two notions and often bring them together. But it’s not correct to consider that brand = business. A business is a company.This means that it comprises marketing, product, services, staff, etc. It focuses on product and service, driving sales and creating systems within the company. The brand instead sets foundations on how the brand will be perceived on the outside. It focuses on generating an emotion, experience and relationship with the customer.
4. Does your Business Need a Brand?
If you’re questioning whether branding will be worth your efforts you should simply ask yourself where you want your business to stand. But always keep in mind that you have to deal with an increasing global competitive environment. If you really want to succeed and stand out in this crowded distracted world, the answer is …yes!
Your efforts should focus on building a strong brand. Why? Because the result of a strong brand is customer loyalty. The result of customer loyalty? Increased value of the whole business. And remember…loyal customers don’t need to be marketed that much.
The online branding
Things do not change when considering online business. If it’s true that the Internet can reach as high as the skies, it is also true that it cannot escape competition. Online branding is essential for many different aspects. Among these, recognition. Unless you want to remain unknown, you will need to consider branding in order for people to know about you and your offers. Recommendation plays a big role in any kind of business. It gives access to a whole new client base maximising profitability. Once your brand will have a loyal consumer base, branding will help to increase business equity. As we already mentioned, branding will help people to stick to your brand by creating a strong emotional bond. This bond will allow you to be free to charge your products according to their worth. Branding is also important to reduce advertising expenses. Once your name is out there and people will start to become more aware and familiar with your brand, you will need to spend less money on branding and, on a long-term vision, it will reduce money spent on advertising.
Benefits of a strong brand
Given the importance of branding, businesses and organizations should focus on building a strong brand right from the very beginning so they can consistently maintain it as they grow.
When hearing the slogan “Just Do It” our mind immediately links to a particular brand, Nike of course. This is one of the most successful examples of a brand campaign that immediately tapped into the authentic character of Nike’s brand values and purpose. The brand, with its “Just Do It” campaign, has been able to reassure consumers over the years. When picking Nike they are picking quality. The authenticity of this brand was also effectively portrayed by famous sport celebrities such as Bo Jackson and Michael Jordan. But branding is not just for big giants such as Nike, Coca-Cola, or Apple. It can really help any business grow and succeed.
With all this in mind, branding will surely be one of the most important investments that you will make as a business owner. So, if you’re about to start a new online business and you want to learn how to brand it, you should definitely read our next article.