Branding is one of those buzzwords that you hear all the time. Like conversation marketing, it factor, or disruption, branding is impotent without a full understand of what it is and why it’s important. It's really a very simple term. Branding is the face of an organization, the people, the image or representation of a particular product or service.
A brand can apply to many different types of entities, from a group of people, to an organization, to a cause, to a country, and the list goes on. For the purposes of our discussion, a brand in relation to a company is equal to the countenance or the face that you or I have. Some of us, put makeup on our face, apply lipstick, wash our faces every evening, etc. We have various care habits that we apply to our face to ensure that it is fresh and attractive to those who view it, and a brand requires the same care.
The effort that goes into crafting a brand communicates that an entity is intentional about its reputation. And an organization that cares about its reputation is going to take care to work on having a better customer service, post sales support, pre-sales support, knowledgeable sales people, etcetera. These are facts that customers know and gravitate to. The countenance of an entity is it's brand and a brand has a multi-dimensional facet that helps to drive home value. Let's focus on a few of them here.
Differentiation from Competitors
Branding has the preliminary simple function of differentiating one business from another in the same way that your face differentiates you from another person. That single purpose is a platform up on which you can build additional added-value that speaks to your target customer. Let's look at an example in the mobile phone market. There is the Apple iPhone and then there are the others. The Apple iPhone has differentiated itself to such an extent that it inhabits a separate spectrum of value within the product category.
Apple's advantageous position has come about from an intentional marketing execution and positioning their products and services accordingly. They're brand has been crafted to communicate premium quality in the consumer goods market. This differentiation from its competitors has propelled Apple to the top of the food chain and in a position where it is, economically, the most valued organization.
Though, it doesn't require the expertise of Apple's marketing to benefit from branding, simply taking efforts to codify and create consistency at every point of contact with your target customer, that in and of itself is the branding framework that can grab the attention of your audience.
Build Credibility by Sharing Your Voice
Being bold and developing a distinctive brand identity demonstrates confidence and strength. Whether that’s technical expertise, customer service, dedication to community, or something else entirely, show your audience something new. More than just a logo or a slogan, give the consumer an idea and a voice that she or he can latch onto; a confident voice builds credibility. After all, we attach to brands for various difference reasons and understanding the value of your target audience helps in crafting a brand that speaks effectively to them
In a competitive market place with numerous players, when consumers are comparing businesses and they seem so similar, the process becomes confusing, and it can become difficult to make a decision. By reducing the friction in the decision making process for a prospect or customer to choose you over the other, you are leveraging your brand to create a decision catalyst that you benefit from. Consumers want to know exactly who you are, make it easy for that to happen and you'll make it easy for them to choose you.
Manage Your Business and Reputation
Branding has two supporting components in an organization that requires management. There is your internal branding which is made up of the values and ideas that your employees believe in and reproduce. Without strong internal branding, you won’t be able to communicate your brand to others. In other words, if your company doesn’t believe in itself and why it’s exceptional, better at customer service, more knowledgeable, etc, no one else will either.
The other component of branding is your reputation in the marketplace. This is the combination of the opinions of consumers, competitors, and business partners. With a great market reputation, your business can grow and expand with less friction. For instance it is easier to form a partnership, easier to enter into a new segment because it's easier to form the necessary relationships to do so. Compare this to another organization without any branding prowess that consequently has to prove itself to every single partner, prospect or customer it engages. Simply put, there is no trust, there's nothing that people can latch onto. There isn't a face.
The grassroots and tactical benefit of managing reputation is that consumers who believe in your business and its products will tell their friends. They will Tweet and post about you. A strong brand makes others excited about doing business together. People will want to tell their friends about their purchase, and other businesses will want to publicize your partnerships. A strong brand is constantly being shared, and there’s no better advertisement than a referral from a friend or associate.
Improve Processes and Business Decisions
Though branding is seen primarily as a function of advertising and marketing, it is actually an incredible management and organizational tool. Successful branding establishes what your business is about and what makes it special. Consequently it formalizes and priorities the factors that create value within an organization. For example, when branding compels a focus on customer service and the customers experience within the sales path; this is turning the focus on to a value producing activity.
Another scenario, you have a situation where you can either reduce the quality of a product or increase the price. Many considerations will go into this decision, and neither solution is perfect, but you should let your brand guide you. Your brand will tell you who your customers are, what your customers want and can put up with, and what exactly is it that you provide. Are you the low-cost option for consumers? Is your value tied to the quality of your goods or is it based on your excellent customer service? A company with a strong brand identity will make decisions that strengthen its brand and refine its competitive advantages.