Your business will likely sit in between two very different markets: either extremely competitive where you’re up against thousands of others like yours, or fairly muted where you’re more niche and struggling to even round up an audience. In both of these instances, there’s a trinity of factors that ultimately tells people to look your way: your brand, brand identity and branding (that’s the one we’re focussing on today but we’ll give you a rundown of the other two).
What is the difference between all three?
The first thing we can guarantee that comes to mind when you think of a business is all the visual aspects of that company, right? If we say Coca-Cola, it’s the crimson red you think of. If we usher the word McDonald’s, it’s got to be those glowing double arches that spring to mind. If we were to mention Milk & Tweed, you first picture our vibrant yellow colour palette and a whole lot of cows. That is the brand identity – shapes and colours. Easy.
There’s more to a business than just these aesthetically pleasing aspects that paint the picture. The brand itself is made up of values, a mission, characteristics and most importantly, a reputation. Your brand needs to be able to translate all of these and create a narrative that people think of when they hear your business’s name. Jeff Bezos says it best:
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”
Coca-Cola isn’t just a fizzy beverage neatly wrapped in red packaging, it’s time with friends on a hot summer’s day or Christmas evening spent with the family watching classic films. Their collection of slogans alone encapsulates and reinforces their branding of togetherness, friendship and love with lines like ‘Things go better with Coke’ (1963), ‘Open Happiness’ (2009-2015) and ‘Together Tastes Better’ (2020).
If you’ve got the colour palette, logo, values and mission, how do you then get the word out there to your audience? Do you just shout “LOOK AT MY BUSINESS, IT’S AWESOME!” from the nearest rooftop? You could give it a go if you’d like but it won’t do too much good for your reputation.
Your branding is the bit that goes hand-in-hand with your brand. You’ve established who you are, now you need to decipher how you will translate all of it to your customers. You guessed it, branding is essentially how you market your business. It’s that first introduction you make to a customer and should set the tone for the entire duration of their interaction with you. Your branding should be consistent in order to attract and keep customer retention.
Examples of branding
Your branding can be shaped via different techniques such as:
- Mission statements and value propositions
- Social media presence
- Tone of voice
- Customer service
Why is branding important to a business?
1. Makes your business credible
Branding that is all higgledy-piggledy and doesn’t communicate to your audience what you offer them just makes you seem untrustworthy. If your business can’t accommodate itself, how will it accommodate your clients? A combination of consistent brand style and marketing will carry your organisation with that aura of professionalism and credibility that your customers want to see.
2. Builds customer loyalty
For any business, hearing “I’m definitely coming back” is like music to their ears. Loyal customers show just how good of a job you’re doing. Plus, for a lot of businesses, it’s that residual customer base that either always comes back for more or is on a subscription-type service that builds longevity. If you can generate customer loyalty through effective branding, then you’ve essentially hit the business jackpot.
Also, loyal customers usually raise more awareness of your business and entice more clients through methods such as word-of-mouth referrals or leaving reviews. Not convinced word-of-mouth is that effective? Semrush dug into these statistics and the results may just sway you.
3. Generates consistency
Defining your brand and identity is the starting point for your business. Once this has been achieved, it makes the branding that comes after, marketing efforts like social media posts and content writing, seamless. It gives a benchmark for your business to follow when creating and posting these assets and sets your business up for life, or until you rebrand.
Make sure to also create a brand guideline to help others such as third-party companies and partnerships to understand your branding in order to maintain that consistency.
4. Stands you out from the crowd
Like we said at the start of this article, your business will either be competing with everyone or next to no one. Regardless of which, your branding will be that element that makes your business really pop and sways your audience to pick you. Whilst the aspects that your audience sees at face value such as your logo and colours do help, it’s ultimately how you’re different from other businesses and how you present yourself that tempts them to purchase.
5. Attracts the audience you want
Both your customers and you should ideally be on the same page. If it’s quality that your target audience wants, then you’ve got to deliver that to them. Or perhaps they deeply care about charity or the environment. Showcasing that you share these values via a donation or planting scheme helps to attract them to your business.
6. Creates brand equity
Working on branding itself helps to establish brand equity, meaning that the more positive attention your brand gets from customers, the more likely your next product roll-outs or service introductions will be. This essentially helps to future-proof your business. Keeping your branding consistent, credible and generally positive, makes you more investable when you decide to launch new products or advertise a different service.
7. Helps recruitment efforts
Growth is important for any business, whether big or small. If your business has strong branding, it can help to naturally attract potential new employees. Having the assistance of a recruiter or advertising yourself on job boards is of course needed for a business searching for new prospects, however, the branding that characterises your business is the ultimatum that will either encourage potential prospects to run towards you or away from you.
Who needs branding? YOU DO!
Your branding is more than just what meets the eye. It goes beyond the colours, fonts and imagery that style your brand, it also tells people who you are and gives purpose and meaning to your business.
It’s a similar concept to being human – your style of clothes, hair colour, and height are all characteristics that people recognise but your personality, values, ethics, opinions and how you communicate these are what are remembered. Vivienne Westwood for example was recognisable because of her eccentric clothing and punk style, but at the end of the day, how she used her characteristics, powerful persona and platforms to take action, make change and build her reputation is how she will be remembered.
Feeling empowered to either start building your brand from the ground up or switch up your current branding to something more invoking and authentic to your business? We’ve got you covered. Get in touch with a member of the Milk & Tweed team to get started today.