No matter if you’re a large multinational corporation or a small store selling handmade goods, branding matters. A common misconception is that branding just refers to the logo, colours or a slogan.
Branding is a marketing strategy that involves creating a differentiated name and image – often using a logo and/or tag line – in order to establish a presence in the consumer’s mind and attract and keep customers.
While this definition is fine, I would say that branding actually precedes a marketing strategy because it is about who you are as a company, what you stand for and how you are perceived by customers. These aspects need to occur before your strategy, because otherwise your marketing strategy will be hollow.
There are several distinct elements that make up a brand, which Just Creative has a great post about. According to Just Creative, the brand is “the perceived emotional corporate image as a whole,” with this perception referring to the customers and also to those that represent the brand.
Next Just Creative goes into the brand identity, which refers to the visual aspects. The logo is separate from the visuals because it identifies the brand and allows people to remember you, making it distinct from the visual style.
In the case of small businesses, you are your own brand, even if you have a separate brand identity.
No matter if you are big or small, your brand reflects what it you are there to do, what you stand for and what drives you. Being true to these ideals will make customers flock towards you. Authenticity can’t be faked, and customers will be able to tell right away if you’re not staying true to your brand.
Clarity is important in branding – remember that you can’t be everything to everyone because this will confuse people as to what you do. Focus on doing what you do well – be the ice cream parlour that has the most interesting flavours.
A small business may think they only have to appeal to locals, but if you are online, your brand still matters to a potentially global audience. Your brand needs to be strong and clearly display what you stand for and how your customers perceive that. A brand isn’t created in isolation – it is made up of what you represent, the visuals, the business and most importantly how your customers see you.
The first step is of course to provide great products or services. Next, you’ll have to work on your branding to make yourself feel unique to customers. In an age where there are a lot of alternatives to everything, a good brand stands apart like a splash of colour in a sea of black and white, and that’s how you get seen as a brand and business.