Branding is one of those buzzwords that you surely hear all the time. Like conversation marketing, it factor, or disruption, branding is useless if you don’t understand what it is and why it’s important. That’s unfortunate, because unlike other buzzwords, branding is here to stay. Yet many small business still don’t know much about branding or why they should be doing it.
This is a wasted opportunity, and thousands of small businesses across the US are squandering the goodwill and trust that they already have developed. This critical mistake is preventing businesses like your own from growing to their potential and becoming something more valuable than the brick and mortar foundation.
Research continues to show that consumers across the country prefer small businesses. As opposed to multinational corporations or omnipresent chains, a small business is viewed as a trustworthy partner and a neighbor in the community. This is an amazing foundation to build any type of brand, and yet this opportunity is often wasted. Small businesses that focus on brand building can use this base of trust and respect and build a company image that speaks to all Americans.
Differentiation from Competitors
Let’s face it—there are hundreds of businesses out there that offer similar services to yours. Not exactly the same, but to an average consumer browsing the internet or your storefront, it may be difficult for him to determine what makes your business different. With the online marketplace, your business and its services are not only competing with the copycat a town over, but you’re also competing with hundreds of other businesses in your state and across the country. Now more than ever, you must stand out. Consumers need to know why your business is different.
Branding is the solution that will communicate your business’s specific strengths and advantages over the competition. With consistent and thoughtful branding, you will be able to clearly tell consumers, from the get-go, what you do differently and why they should care. Consumers don’t always buy the best product or the cheapest product. They also care about customer service. Some consumers want to buy from people who are like them. There are thousands of reasons why someone should choose to do business with you. Branding helps you articulate that.
Build Credibility by Sharing Your Voice
When consumers are comparing businesses and they seem so similar, the process becomes confusing, and it gets too difficult to make a decision. Consumers want to know exactly who you are and what you stand for. Being bold and developing a distinctive brand identity demonstrates your confidence and strength in the marketplace. Whether that’s technical expertise, customer service, dedication to community, or something else entirely, show consumers something new. More than just a logo or a slogan, give the consumer an idea and a voice that he can latch onto; a confident voice builds credibility.
Grow Your Business and Reputation
Branding has two components. 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, 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 will continue to grow and expand. Consumers who believe in your business and its products will tell their friends. They will Tweet and Facebook about you. A strong brand makes others excited about doing business with you. Consumers 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 an advertising tool, it is actually an incredible management and organizational tool. Successful branding establishes what your business is about and what makes it special. Highlighting and formalizing these priorities will make your business stronger.
For example, 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 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.