- Business and Employment
Importance Of Branding A Small Business
What is Branding
As a savvy business owner you are probably already very aware of branding and its use, not just in big business but small business as well. In saying this you must also be aware of how important branding is for any business in this day and age.
Regardless of who you use to implement branding into your business whether it be a marketing professional or yourself it can be done and done effectively. The aim of this is to be able to brand your product or service so that your consumers will easily associate your business with a product. You may have thought that this was only for the bigger more corporate companies but you would be mistaken to continue thinking that way.
Even now as the world economies continue to balance on a cliff edge it is getting much more difficult, especially for small business owners to make any money. What you are about to learn is how branding may be a solution you should be looking at to get your business noticed and not only online but offline as well.
How A Business Starts Branding Products Or Services
Learning how to brand your business can have very positive outcomes to your bottom line
So how can you start branding your business?
Before we get into the nuts and bolts lets make it very clear that how you brand your products or services will be in most cases completely different from how another business in the same market will do it. What you need to achieve here is what is know as a USP a Unique Selling Proposition.
If you were in a large company there would be a team of marketing professionals all working towards creating a perfect brand for that company. However as we are speaking about small business in many cases this will not be an option.
The very first things that need to be considered when creating a brand for your business is firstly the product or service you are going to sell. Then you will need to create a logo and concept or an idea that you want your product or service to be associated with.
As a fictitious example lets say we have just produced a new soft drink, what the end goal here would be is to make the consumer think about it any time they had a social function or event.
By branding a product like our fictitious soft drink in this way you are targeting with your branding the very people who are going to be buying your soft drink.
Just look at how Coca Cola promotes its products and you will see that they are not interested at all in the older generation but target the younger marketplace through their exciting advertising of fun and adventure.
Another is Gatorade which has been branded in such a way through the media that whenever anyone thinks about a sporting event they also think about Gatorade.
You have to admit that it was a fantastic concept for Gatorade to go this way as there is some form of sport being played worldwide every day of the week.
Regardless of the psychology behind branding you need to always remember that a brand which forms an image in the consumers mind is the most powerful marketing tool a company can have regardless of size.Especially today with search engines becoming more brand orientated than ever before.
Understanding How Branding Products Can Work
Using another example. Let's say it's apple juice. For the most part, apple juice is apple juice right, there is no denying it.
While one company can, or at least claim to, grow and use better quality juice from their apples, even deliver it fresher and faster than anyone else, or include less additives like sugar and chemicals, the basic playing field is still mostly leveled if you accept that it's just plain old apple juice. So when craving the taste of apple juice, in a world without branding, the consumer would have little to shop around for except a good price as there is no image or expectation due to a lack of branding.
Branding has now become part of our every day lives, most costumers have worked out that when the apple juice has a certain image being a logo that is the one they will buy. This has been proven over and over again, and in most cases because the branding has been so effect most consumers do not even realize they are doing it.
By having such a strong business brand this allows any business to expand by offering better prices and eliminating any of their weaker competition. This is where you need to be careful with branding, with so much time and money spent on getting a product or service exposure sometimes the quality of the product declines.
The reason for this is usually because once a company has a good brand they believe they can cut corners to save money and the consumer would never know. I am here to tell you that in nearly every instance of company trying this their brand has failed.
For you as a small business owner/operator having a good branding strategy could place you miles ahead of all your competitors. You can achieve this by not only having a good strategy but ensuring that the brand is good but the service or product quality meets the branding you are doing.
If you don't it can make things very risky or even backfire where your brand is now hurting your business.
In our modern world with all our technology it is only natural that the world does and will continue to revolve around small business branding. This is the best way to keep your company or any company as a matter of fact in the forefront of a consumers mind which is essential for keeping that company of value to the business owner or for larger companies the investors.
In all honesty if you approached this with a positive and open mind and were prepared to brand your small business, it can lead to a more stable and future-strong company, and that's something that benefits all... except for your competitors.
There are Many Different Approaches to Branding
Finding The Right Strategy For Your Small Business
Whether you are trying to market a company or product of your own or if you simply want to understand how the marketplace around you works, the importance of understanding branding cannot be overstated.
In a highly competitive world, one that's growing even more competitive with every year e-commerce becomes more trusted, not knowing how to brand and not knowing how another's brand may be influencing you can be a very detrimental thing.
The Approaches To Branding Are The Same It's Just The Strategy That Differs
The various approaches to branding are more or less all related. The scientific and psychological concepts behind the idea remains consistent throughout the varying approaches, it's merely the strategy related to each approach that differs. Companies choose what approach they want to take based on a number of factors, but in many cases it's the marketplace itself that dictates what the chosen approach should be.
The most thought of branding approach is that of company branding, in which the name of the company and its overall principles that they want to become branded in a consumers mind. This would Google is a good example of how this works. They have many products up for grabs, having greatly expanded from their original yet still popular mission of universal search, but its their company name that's used to sell consumers on almost all of their products. By having well established branding for the Google name, they don't have to work quite as hard when branding their Docs, Voice and other applications.
Bigger Companies Can Afford To Brand Individual Products Or Services
Other companies, generally larger scale manufacturers, approach branding on an individual product by product basis. Proctor & Gamble is a great example of this. The company's name is known widely, but the bulk of their branding efforts goes into each of their product lines one by one to the point that many people don't know those products even come from P&G. Tide, Duracell and Pampers are great examples of their products that have strong identities of their own.
The kind of branding that many consumers are most accustomed to hearing about is what's known as attitude branding. This can apply to either of the above mentioned approaches, but has a more specific purpose. This kind of branding is what you see with companies like Nike who try quite successfully to get people to associate a certain attitude with their product. Nike has established itself as being cool and powerful, and people want to be a part of that. You won't see Nike promoting their quality or even individual shoes all that often, because they sell enough shoes by just reminding people about attitude.
What is Non-Branding All About
There is also a great movement as of late to extend the power of a long established brands to other areas. This includes a strategy that's often known as non-branding and another strategy which would be best described as brand extension. The first includes things like grocery stores who have their own product lines in store and sell them as their own brand.
The latter refers to companies who use their existing brand to launch a different product line such as Nike selling sports clothing to go along with their shoes.
None of these strategies are better than the other, just more appropriate for different situations. The more you look into each method the more you'll understand just how influential an established brand can be, and you'll probably start to realize that they influence you greatly in your day to day life.
Mistakes To Avoid When Branding A Small Business
Learn from my experience what does and does not work when branding a business
If you have a small business and think that branding isn't relevant to you because of the size, you are mistaken.
While you may not have the goal or reason to think about wide scale branding, you still should focus a lot of effort on the idea of branding your company to the small market you are associated with. Even the local corner store can find ways of branding itself in an effort to get customers to turn to them instead of the one across the street.
Many small business owners are aware of this, but unfortunately make mistakes in trying to capitalize on the idea.
Branding A Business Can Be Risky
Branding is a risky business. While you should definitely start implementing its strategies, remember to think carefully about how you do it first. If you do it wrong it can backfire very quickly, or at least cost you a lot of money for something that simply won't pay off.
The biggest mistake people make with their brands has to do with the name. Either they forget that they need a unique name or they choose one that's obscure and unidentifiable. A corner store called "Corner Store" will have a lot of trouble with branding itself no matter what other strategies it implements simply because the name is too generic.
On the other hand, a lot of new businesses try to pick cool names that have nothing directly to do with the product. With a truly large investment you can get away with that, but the average company can't pick a name like Amazon or Google because no one would know what they do.
Don't Ignore Visual Appeal When Branding A Business
Not having good visuals, or ignoring the idea of a visual identity altogether is a big mistake as well. There's a reason why companies spend millions on logo research and design. It works. To fully grasp what that means, think of companies like Tropicana who decided to change their visual look.
Everything about the product was the same, even the name, but the results were so bad that changed back within weeks. For a small company a simple logo or graphic will do, but it has to be something identifiable later on.
Don't Move Away From Your Main Product Line When Branding A Business
Another detrimental action is to expand away from your key product line. A brand has to be associated wit one basic product or service. Starbucks makes itself known as a coffee shop. They sell related products as well, but venturing farther away from that key product is dangerous. When they did expand their brand to include more things they had to be very careful about it, and are now a music seller to be reckoned with.
They succeeded because they ensured to introduce the new product slowly and in a way that maintained association with their existing brand. For instance, they started by strictly selling the music you were already accustomed to hearing in store while drinking your coffee.
The point of all of this though is that breaking the rules and making mistakes with branding is not something you really want to avoid. As a small business owner a brand identity will help you grow, but you need to do it right. Plan carefully and think ahead and hopefully over the next while you'll be able to create a brand that works for you.
How the Power of Branding Actually Hurts Consumers
Branding is touted as one of the most important tools of any marketing campaign, and when done well it's done really well to the point where a product is able to pop into a consumer's mind at all the right times.
Think of it.
The world around you has been branded more than you likely realize, from those combined shades of red and white that make you think of coke to the name band-aid that few realize isn't actually the word for the product itself.
Business Branding Allows Business To Grow
In the right amounts branding is one of the best things going for modern business. It enables companies to flourish and their products to live on, thus creating a more stable environment for employment and investment. Unfortunately branding has been taken too far, as is the case with so many good things, and the result is what is fast proving to be a dangerous concept.
Business Branding, Is It Nothing More Than Mind Control
When a product is branded and marketed just right, it will find its way into a consumer's conscious mind which is the ideal marketing strategy for the product or service your business is offering. One restaurant will have a consumer thinking about them whenever they think of chicken and a bookstore will have a consumer thinking about them whenever they think of reading. Reason completely leaves the equation when you have branded your business correctly.
Take running shoes for example, or basketball shoes, walking shoes, or cycling shoes. Just over a decade ago these were all just sneakers. Now shoe companies have successfully branded their shoes to meet different purposes and consumers buy them in quantities because of that. Do many of those consumers understand the difference? Were they not able to play basketball ten years ago while in running shoes? It doesn't matter, because branding has pushed them beyond the point of questioning that.
Why Branding Can Sometimes Hurt The Consumer
Other things that go without questioning include quality. Branding allows a company to push a product that is potentially inferior without it being questioned by the end consumer. They know that the band speaks for itself and so it's not always necessary to invest the extra money into the product itself.
This leads to lesser quality materials in products and cheaper ingredients in food. It leads to us owning things that don't last as long or don't work as well, or eating things that are much less healthy than we'd have ourselves believe.
Politicians Use Branding To Great Effect
Health isn't the only important issue that branding manages to get in the way of. Even politics has become overrun with branded images, ideas and personae. It's now at the point that people start voting for brands instead of issues, and studies have shown that many people don't understand the issues at all.
Politicians know this, and even the ones that wish they didn't have to stoop to these tactics have little choice if they want to succeed. They must sell a brand, not a political or economical idea.
Because of the abuse of branding and its proven success, a lot of people believe our society is heading closer towards an Orwellian world in which we don't think for ourselves. Though this is a truly extreme reaction to a problem, it's not necessarily too far off base. To understand that, take stock of your decisions throughout a day. When the day is over look back and ask why you did what you did and bought what you bought.
Can you really justify why you chose a over b in each case? Probably not.
The brand made you do it.
The Concept of Branding Goes Back Over a Hundred Years
Understanding the history will help you move forward into the future
Branding and marketing and trademarks are three things that go hand in hand, but none of them should be confused as being the same thing.
While all of them play into each other, one can in fact exclude the other and the concepts behind them were all born at different times. It just so happens that in the last hundred years or so the three concepts have evolved in near unison, as each needs the other to be fully effective.
Understanding The History Of Branding
What that means is that the history of branding is quite similar to the history of trademarks and the history of marketing as a whole, but it's far from being the same. Marketing, in various forms, is something that goes back hundreds of year, and by using a looser definition of the term you can trace it back thousands of years even.
Trademarks, however, have more to do with the legal aspects of marketing and branding, as it is designed to protect the brand.
Branding itself goes back only to the midst of the 19th century. To be fair, and again if looser definitions are allowed, some historians are able to show potential examples of branding that goes back to the centuries BC, but no one would claim the insignia found on objects of the day were born from fully realized branding concepts.
The reason the 19th century can be credited with the true birth of branding is because that's about the time when basic packaging was first introduced to consumer and commercial goods. It's when true industry first took off and when markets expanded and competition grew. In short, it's when companies finally had the means and necessity to ensure consumers knew how to tell their product apart from the competition's.
Most Branding Started As Logo's
The first brands came in the form of logos that would appear on crates being shipped out by various kinds of factories. The concept still new, the brand didn't go much farther than that logo, and while the psychology behind why it worked wasn't likely fully understood, the idea was to ensure the end consumer could associate a specific product with a specific company so that they'd know to look for that same one next time.
Who actually had the first brand is something that's up for grabs, and the fact that many of those old brands are still around mean there are many people trying to make the claim to being first. Brass & Company and Lyle's Golden Syrup are two British companies that have been around for quite some time and both have recognizable brands that have remained quite consistent, if not unchanged, since the 19th century. Today, both are amongst those that claim to have been the first to brand their products, though Lyle's Golden Syrup has earned official recognition for the feat.
Branding Was About Attitude
A lot was learned and implemented during the early days of branding. Logos, overall looks of a product and the attitude that a manufacturer wanted their product to project all became apart of the branding experience and can be seen in things like Coca Cola. It wasn't until the mid 20th century though when branding, along with marketing as a whole, become studied as a true science.
Now an essential part of the commercial experience, branding can be found anywhere and can be associated with just about anything.
Great Stuff on Amazon About Business Branding
Get all the information you need about branding a small business. Avoid the many mistakes and disappointments you can experience if you get this wrong.
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