When it comes to marketing, small businesses tend to overlook the importance of branding. They tend to think of it as the domain for big business with large marketing budgets and TV commercials. But branding is a powerful tool in a small business’ arsenal. Inevitably to build a successful business, brand building will be a critical component.
So just what is branding?
The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a:
“Name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.”
Like a lot of other marketing concepts, such as competitive advantage and your value proposition, your Brand is another way to uniquely differentiate your business from the competition. One of the problems that most small to medium sized businesses face is that there are so many other businesses out there just like them.
- You’re a mortgage broker – great, so are thousands of others
- You’re a beautician – great, so are thousands of others
- You’re a plumber – great, so are thousands of others
Branding will help you differentiate you from competition. Think for a moment about your industry and answer this question: “Who are the top 3 competitors in my industry?” Then write down what it is about them that makes them unique. What is their brand? What do they stand for?
Why be Concerned with Branding?
• Motivates the buyer to purchase – A fascinating brand is Apple. Go to your local Apple Store and I’d be willing to bet it is the busiest store in the shopping centre. It has some of the most motivated buyers around. But why? Is it because their ‘cool’? is it that the products work well and are easy to use? Is high quality? All of these are probably true, but the overriding factor that brings these all together is the Apple brand. People just want ‘Apple’ and their willing to pay to get it, wait to get it and indeed pay more to get it.
• Delivers a consistent message – Your brand should deliver the same message over and over. This reinforces your positioning, your values, and tells the consumer you are reliable.
• Builds credibility – people trust brands. Picture yourself for a moment standing in the supermarket looking at the biscuit shelf. In front of you are two brands of biscuit, both look mostly the same and probably even taste the same. But one is a really well known brand and has a great slogan and perhaps jingle that you use to sing when you saw their TV ad. Which one are you most likely to buy? More than likely, unless your decision is purely price motivated you will probably buy the branded item.
• Creates an emotional connection for customers – Marketing teams spend days on end determining the emotional association that people have with their brand. Take the airline – Qantas – Australia’s National Carrier. Their television campaigns have for many years being centered on the emotional attachment of being ‘an Australian’ with the song “I still call Australia home”. Their goal is to make you feel attached emotionally to the airline so that you will choose them over other carriers even if they are slightly more expensive.
• Builds Loyalty – a strong brand will encourage people to come back over and over again. Go to any major airport in the world and you’ll probably find a Starbucks coffee shop. You know when you are going to go to a Starbucks anywhere the product will be identical. If I go to a new town or city and I have a choice between two coffee shops, one looks ok, but I’ve never seen or heard of it before, and the other is a Starbucks. Which one is the safer choice? Starbucks. Brands build loyalty. Ask yourself this question – what would I want my company to be known for?
Each of the above factors applies as much to small business as they do to large businesses. To learn more about branding, check out our course: http://wealthwithpurpose.com/our-courses/business-courses/business-kick-start/