As a small business owner, knowing the truth behind branding and how it will be used to help you meet your goals is important. Effective branding allows people to relate to your business on a more personal level which, in turn, creates a stronger relationship between the consumer and your business. Creating loyal customers — via branding — is one of the best ways to ensure your business will thrive well into the future.
Many people do not know the differences between branding, marketing, and advertising.
Branding: The goal of branding is to get potential customers to buy into your mission, your story, and the features of your product. Branding is meant to create a level of consistency, understanding, and loyalty. Logos, color and font choices, taglines, voices in a commercial, mission statements, marketing collateral, what’s on your business card, and the design of your website are all related to branding. Having consistency — like Coca Cola does with their exact color of red or Apple stores do with their in-store experience and website — is part of what makes a brand strong and recognizable.
Marketing: This is the process of making strategic decisions to ensure your chosen messaging is reaching your target audience. It’s the act of choosing what your commercial will say, how you will say it, and where it will run. Marketing is all encompassing and includes branding and advertising, along with other steps like market research, creative, and tracking.
Advertising: The actual act of advertising is more of a step in the marketing process. You can do marketing without advertising, but advertising is about paid placement of your marketing message. Radio, TV, newspaper, billboards, banner ads, and social media ads are all under the umbrella of advertising.
While branding, marketing and advertising cannot be used interchangeably, they compliment each other to create the most successful outcome and typically work together in an integrated way. However, it’s important to note that some advertising and marketing — while consistent with your brand — is not in and of itself a branding campaign. And that’s okay if it matches your marketing goals.
When running a branding campaign, you’ll focus more on getting this feeling and consistency mentioned above across versus inciting immediate action. It doesn’t mean that a branding campaign won’t generate new business, it just means that you aren’t running something as time sensitive as a Labor Day Sale that is specifically aimed at that one goal. At Zimmer we always tell our clients that branding is about telling your audience why and waiting for when.
Branding campaigns are often most effective when paired with more tactical messaging as well. This allows you to gain traction — with consistent messaging — in your market, but also focus on particular campaigns that are more action-oriented in nature.
In this article we’re going to talk about branding in particular, and how it can help your bottom line.
Branding gives a business the opportunity to convey a specific image to their target audience and have control of the impression being created. You should not be asking yourself, “Does my business need branding?” but rather, “Do I currently have ownership over my brand?”
Every single business has a brand…whether you are taking control of it or not. Your messaging, logo, and even service vehicles are impacting what consumers think about your brand. By using marketing and advertising to really own your brand — that is what a branding campaign is all about.
To get started with developing your brand, ask yourself this one question:
“How do I want my customers to feel when they interact with, or think about, my company?”
Coming up with the words first that answer this question is going to be a critical step in developing brand guidelines that match your goals. For example:
A local nightclub might focus on being cool and trendy. Their patrons care about what others think and what’s going to match the rest of their style. When they visit this establishment, they want to feel like they’re part of the cool crowd, like their money is well spent, and like they are being taken care of.
On the other hand, a HVAC business might specialize in suburban, middle-class households. Their customers want to feel safe and like they made a wise financial decision. They want to feel like they can trust the company they hire and that they won’t get ripped off. They want to be loyal to a business and are seeking businesses who treat them with the respect they feel their hard-earned cash deserves.
Both of these businesses have very different customers and very different brands. Every decision they make from font choices, to how they answer their business phone, would be different based on this brand experience.
Whatever you decide for your business, consistency is critical. Use the same language style, fonts, colors, and message throughout all of the various marketing you do and business decisions you make.
How to Get the Most Out of Branding
As mentioned earlier in this article, branding campaigns should be combined with tactical campaigns. Developing your brand will take time, and because of that it is important to remember both your short and long term goals. Marketing strategies that will help your business see immediate results will allow you to grow and build a relationship with your customers. Branding can be difficult to measure so it is necessary to continue implementing strategies that produce tangible results that can act as a gauge for success, but still align with your brand too.
You should no longer be asking yourself how important is it to brand your business but instead begin looking for ways to make your brand more consistent and aligned with who you are and who you hope to attract. Successful branding requires you to understand how you want your business to be perceived and knowing that it will take time and commitment for you to develop the recognition you are striving for.