Imagine you are planning to start an online business that sells clothing. There are millions of other online businesses that do the same thing - so what is going to differentiate you from the competition?
Why is Strong Branding Important to a Business?
A strongly established brand gives your business infinitely more value in the eyes of stakeholders. If your company's brand is clear and compelling, it will help create and maintain an emotional connection with customers and all involved.
As well as this, having excellent core brand values will make your company a more appealing investment opportunity to any potential backer - should your business perform successfully.
Before starting any business, you need to consider how you are going to position yourself in the market. What is your identity? What is your mission? What are your company values? What inspired you to start this business? Once you have a grasp on your purpose, you can start to develop a brand to help propel your organisation towards its goals.
So, how can you begin the branding process?
What is a Brand Strategy?
All businesses should develop a clear plan detailing how they can communicate their key messages with their target audience. This is called a brand strategy.
Develop a company name, logo and key design guidelines that offer a true representation of the main points your business is aiming to communicate. These will form the foundation of your branding and make your business recognisable on marketing materials and other forms of media.
The term "brand" doesn't just refer to aesthetics. A clear brand strategy will also dictate how the company is going to operate.
For example, an online clothing retailer might decide that being ethical and environmentally conscious will be a huge part of their identity, meaning that they would look to source all of their products sustainably. This will dictate how they manufacture and distribute their items, in order to have a low carbon footprint and lessen their impact on the environment.
Significant time should be spent working on an effective brand - if it is done properly it will help increase your business' success massively. Below, LoudCrowd explains how a strong brand can have a huge positive impact on your organisation in more depth.
Building a Reputation
Developing a strong brand that is consistent with your company's mission, ethos and values will help you build a healthy reputation in the market. With a great reputation, comes great value.
We're not just talking about monetary value and price premium here (although these are a huge positive of a strongly branded company).
A brand's reputation has a huge effect on the influence a business has. A strong brand will help to strengthen the trust between the organisation and all stakeholders. If customers trust your brand, you will find that the assumed dependability this gives your business helps you to guide consumer behaviour.
For example, a business will find it easier to encourage customers to download and use a new app if the existing relationship is strong and underpinned by trust.
Trust can be created by ensuring your brand's values match with those of your customers - your business should operate in a way that enforces these values. Work to give customers what they expect and beyond. If there are ever any issues or problems that develop in your business, address them directly with sincerity and intent to resolve them.
Awareness and Popularity
Strong brands all have one thing in common - great awareness and popularity.
A great example of this would be Coca Cola. Historically, they have placed a huge amount of emphasis on building their brand. You don't hear the brand name Coca Cola and think, "it's just a soda". You associate the brand and its popularity with feelings of happiness, sharing, as well as their famous Christmas advertising campaigns.
This is why Coca Cola is one of the most successful organisations in the world - they have implemented an effective branding strategy that has added so much value on top of their products.
Businesses should aim to replicate this and create a brand that can be associated with strong positive emotions, meaning that the business is memorable and distinctive in the market.
Generating Loyal Customers
Creating a strong brand that facilities the development of relationships and trust with customers helps secure repeat and future business. Customers will be much more likely to do business with an organisation that has an established brand, with a reputation for providing quality products and services.
If a customer has a great experience working with you, this can create a snowball effect and have a great impact on your brand loyalty. People will share their experiences with friends, family and associates, and this word of mouth only helps strengthen your brand even more.
If you can develop a brand that smartly integrates your company mission and values, this can sometimes mean that direct customer experiences with your business aren't necessary and brand awareness is enough to generate word of mouth.
People will often share brands they have heard of based purely on their association with the core principles a brand identifies with. If an organisation can generate future business in this way, it is a great indication that they have built a very strong brand.
If your brand has strong positive associations, it can mean that people already have a favourable opinion of your business before they've even interacted with you. If they go on to have a good experience and are satisfied with your service, this will help build their customer loyalty.
With a strong brand and good reputation, comes the opportunity for a problem or mistake to tarnish what you've created. Whilst positive opinions can spread quickly between customers, negative experiences spread even quicker.
When you build your brand up to a certain point, it's even more important than ever to have procedures in place to assure your products, services and operations are meeting your customer's expectations. Keep raising the benchmark for success and avoid complacency.
Creating a Business That Employees Want to Work for
Brand reputation can benefit your workforce much in the same way as it can benefit your customer base. If your employees relate to your brand and buy into the messages you are pushing to communicate to the public, this will do wonders for your workforce's productivity, motivation and satisfaction. Job fulfilment is key for a lot of people and working for a strongly branded company can add extra meaning to people's day to day duties.
The happiness of your employees is very important - these people are representatives of your brand personality and are at the very frontline of your business. You should use your brand as a criterion to hire the people who fit your company's culture and identity. Employee pride is key to excellent customer service and the general running of your operations, so do everything you can to foster it.
How can you build a strong brand?
To summarise, you must build a brand that you believe your target audience will relate to. Use your company mission, values and ethos to develop a corporate and visual identity that your customers engage and attach themselves to.
Plan how you can ensure your brand is associated with strong, positive emotions that help give your business meaning and its own place in the market - differentiate yourself from competitors.
Use this strong brand you've built as a reference to recruiting a workforce that is passionate about your brand, match your culture and are motivated to represent your business to the best of their abilities.
LoudCrowd can build you a strong brand identity that helps your business stand out from the competition. We will work with you to craft bespoke, unique branding packages that will bring your company's culture to life, devising strategies to help your business communicate its messages effectively.
Let us set the foundations for your business' success - it's our passion!
What is branding?
Branding is how a business presents and communicates its mission, ethos and key values to stakeholders.
A strong brand will give a business infinitely more value in the eyes of stakeholders. If a brand is clear and compelling, it will help the business connect with customers and other key players.
Why is branding important for small businesses?
As a small business, branding is important because it gives your business an identity that people can relate to. Strong branding will place additional value on top of products and services offered, which can set small businesses apart from competitors and help develop and maintain customer loyalty.
Why is branding important to consumers?
If an organisation's branding is a representation of its core values and culture, this can give like-minded consumers something to connect with. Customers like doing business with companies they respect and admire.
A brand can offer this additional value on top of their services and products by ensuring communicated messages match the opinions and views of the business's target audience.