Branding. We hear the word a lot, especially as small business owners or those looking to hire a small business owner – but the word can seem a bit vague. So, what is branding, and why is it important?
What is branding?
There are two common misunderstandings about it:
- Branding is not simply a logo. A logo is definitely a main component of a brand, but it's only the beginning. Confusing a "logo" as a "brand" is easy to do, but doesn't fully explain the weight of work a brand does.
- Branding is not just for large companies. When we think of a brand, we think of brands we're familiar with – for example, Apple, Starbucks, or Target. The truth behind this is that every business has a brand, and a business's brand is always communicating something visually to it's audience. A good brand says you're responsible and pay attention to details, and also authentically expresses your personality. A bad brand says you're unprofessional and not sure what you're doing. You've probably seen both of these daily without realizing that it's the branding that's communicating this.
So what is a brand? A brand is the complete image of a business. It expresses what customers can expect from your products and/or services. It differentiates you from others in your field. It visually explains what you are, what you want to be, and what people perceive you to be. This is important for all businesses, but especially those who are exclusively online or just starting out – a good brand is intentional about using their branding elements to portray not only what their business or blog is, but what they dream of it to be. It's exactly like dressing nicely for an interview. When I talk with clients in our initial consultation, I focus mainly on what they want their business or blog to be – not necessarily what it is right now – because it's that future image that I want to help them present to their potential clients or readers. You're letting them know right away what to expect and what to love about you.
On a practical level, branding includes an overall look and feel that is expressed across a logo, color scheme, and additionally designed pieces, like buttons, packaging, stationary, social media images, etc. It also includes some aspects of your business that aren't as tangible – like your business's tone or voice, the terminology you use, and the experience you provide. Both the tangible and intangible aspects of your branding are equally important, and must be thoughtfully carried out.
So why is branding important?
Branding gives customers a mental image of your business. Most people have a visual memory, meaning that they remember things by what they look like. When we think about memories, people, or places, images usually come to mind. The same is true for a brand. The visual, tangible aspects of your brand give your audience images to remember it by and associate it with. Branding gives your audience a picture of your business to help them understand who you are and be able to remember you once they leave your page. It also helps differentiate you from others in your field by visually looking different. It helps to establish an emotional bond with your customer – when they see something they like, they remember it and grow attached to it. So, when done correctly, branding will win you your ideal customer or reader.
There are endless benefits to having great branding. Successful businesses realize this, and their branding plays a large part in their success. Think of a brand like Starbucks – the classic, green circular logo. The smell of fresh coffee. The ambiance of stepping in the store. The ease of using the app. Branding gives your audience a reliable first impression of your business, making your business memorable and recognizable to them, and causes them to want to come back to you over and over again.
Essentially, branding is the clear road to finding, attracting, and keeping your ideal customers – it's where you will prove your worth and build trust with your audience.
How have you established a strong personal brand?