As a small business owner, you’ve probably heard these words thrown around quite a bit.
But branding is one of those terms that’s never clearly defined. And everyone seems to have their own take of what they think it means.
It’s pretty confusing, right?
So before we start, let me clear up the two most common misconceptions about branding:
- Branding goes beyond your design, colors, and logo. Trust me, you’re not alone if you think that a logo and branding are one and the same. But a logo is just the tip of the iceberg. A brand is so much more than what it looks like. Which leads me to…
- Branding is not just for large companies. When you think of a brand, you probably think of ones you know like Apple or Nike. But the truth is that every business, large and small, has a brand. And at any given moment, your brand is communicating something to your audience. Think of it like the first impression and personality of your business. It’s telling your potential customers that you’re professional, approachable, or attentive to detail. Or it’s telling people that you’re unclear, confused and have no idea what you’re doing.
Every interaction you’ve had with your customers.
Every photo you’ve uploaded to Instagram.
Every one of the 140 characters you’ve sent out on Twitter.
All of these have worked to develop your brand.
I know… these interactions probably seem small and unrelated.
But they all collectively form the basis of your relationship with your audience.
And all relationships are facilitated, maintained and articulated by your brand.
Meaning, your brand is already alive.
And if you aren’t being intentional about it, it could mean disaster for your brand… and business.
In today’s post, I explain:
- What branding is
- Why branding is important
What is branding?
Seth Godin defines a brand as:
“The set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
Branding is the complete image of your business, which conveys an overall feeling and message to your audience.
Before your customer ever has an experience with you, your products or your services, they’re first seeing your brand in some shape or form.
Great brands are intentional about using elements like their logo, website, voice, and tone to portray not only who they are…
…but who they want to be.
Your brand gives your customers a glimpse at what they will experience with you.
Your brand gives them expectations.
So you should not only set those expectations with your brand.
You should also deliver on your promise at every step in their journey as your customers interact with your brand.
Why is branding important?
Now… I know what you’re thinking.
“I’m a small business. I don’t need a brand. Our product is so unique, so different, we’ll be the only one out there.”
I hate to say it, but that’s probably not gonna be the reality for you.
If you are one of the very, very few entrepreneurs who’s come up with something so unique that there is literally nothing to compare your idea with, then… #madrespect.
For the rest of us, we have to compete in a marketplace with many choices for our customers.
Which is exactly where branding comes in: to help you position your product or service in front of the right customers in an overcrowded market.
Because the brand simplifies choice.
People are driven by emotion and intuition, so they base every buying decision on trust.
And trust is gained from the relationships developed between people and organizations — a relationship that is facilitated by your brand.
Your customers need time to get to know, like and trust you before they even consider buying from you.
So while branding aesthetics make a great first impression (your logo, colors, visuals, etc.)…
…it’s the brand experience that forms the story that customers will tell themselves and each other when you’re not in the room.
And that’s the story that your customers will spread on your behalf to help your business grow.
Building a Brand is a Must for Your Small Business
Yes, investing in your branding matters.
In a world where we’re bombarded by thousands of messages a day, your business needs to stand for something to set it apart from the pack.
Your brand needs to have a story that your customers will connect with to believe in and buy into what you’re selling.
What’s more, understanding your brand means that you control how people experience your business. Which can help you attract more of the right kind of customer.
Ready to build an unforgettable brand that connects and converts?
Download your free branding + website checklist here.