If you own a small business, you might be one of many who overlook how important it is to professionally brand yourself. Maybe you don’t quite understand what branding is, maybe you are just starting out and don’t think you have the budget to create a professional-looking brand, or maybe you think all you need is a logo and a color scheme.
Whatever the case may be, I’m here to tell you that branding is ABSOLUTELY one of the most important things you should be investing in, whether you are just starting out or have been running your business for years.
In fact, you really can’t afford to NOT work on your branding right from the beginning, as it can save you a LOT of time, money, and stress in the long run.
But don’t just take it from me. According to Steve Forbes, “Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business.”
And Angela Ahrendts, senior vice president of Apple says “You have to create a consistent brand experience however and wherever a customer touches your brand, online or offline. The lines are forever blurred.”
With the endless options and distractions people have today, they need to be sold on their emotions, not on their wallets. Branding should make it clear as to why consumers should care, and why they should choose you over your competition.
Good branding will give your customers a reason to care about your brand, your business, and your products. It should make your customers feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves and the product or service they are buying.
Furthermore, if you think branding is only for large companies and corporations, think again.
If you have a business, you are a brand. If you are an influencer, you are a personal brand.
If you want to create a healthy, thriving business for yourself, one of the best ways to do that is to develop a strong and consistent brand right from the beginning. This is done through brainstorming, strategic planning, design, and development.
Before I get into the specific reasons why branding is important and how a strong brand can help your business grow faster, let’s start with the basics by going over the differences between a brand, brand identity, and branding.
What is a Brand?
Your brand is your business’s personality. It’s who you are, what you do, and how you do it.
It’s not what you say about your business; it’s more about your reputation, which is almost entirely based on the emotion of others.
Your brand is ultimately the result of how people feel when they do business with you. It’s the total sum of all their experiences and perceptions of you, including what they take away after purchasing something from you, the kind of customer service they receive, and the words and emotions they use to describe your business to others.
What is a Brand Identity?
Your brand identity refers to the visual components that make up the look and feel of your brand. This includes things like your color palette, style, logo, alternative logos, typography selections, photo choices, business cards, packaging, social media graphics, website, etc.
How the Process Works:
- I generally start my clients out with a brand questionnaire, which allows me to learn more about them, their business, their ideal client, their goals, and their vision.
- Then the client and I will collaborate on Pinterest to help give us a sense of direction to go in, visually. This will include collecting inspirational images, quotes, color palettes, logo ideas, etc.
- From here, I’ll create a Mood Board and color palette to capture the visual essence of their brand and set the visual direction going forward. This is a very important step as it prevents me from going in the wrong direction, which can help save my client’s time and money.
- Then it’s on to fun stuff, like the logos, business cards, social media branding, etc.
- And finally, I’ll create a branding board, which ties all the visual elements of the brand together so the client, their social media managers, and any other designers they work with can easily stay “on brand” going forward.
To see examples of more brand identities, take a look at my Branding Board Portfolio.
What is Branding?
Branding is the work you do that produces your brand. It’s everything you put out into the world, in regards to your business, and works as a system to build brand awareness, loyalty, and trust.
Branding is not something that just happens once, it’s something you consistently continue to develop over time.
To optimize your branding efforts and set your business up for success, I highly recommend going through a branding process.
The initial branding process involves a brainstorming session to figure out who you are as a brand and how you want to be perceived by others. This includes things like deciding on a business name, defining your purpose, stating what kind of value you provide and how you differ from the competition, deciding on your brand’s voice and tone, coming up with a mission statement, identifying your target audience, etc. (my brand identity packages include a questionnaire to help you figure all of this out if you need some guidance!)
In addition, you want to think about the kind of experience you are looking to create for your audience and how you want your brand to make them feel, as these are all things that will help you create the visual components of your brand. To help you figure this out, try writing down the 3 words you’d want others to use to describe your brand.
For example: Empowered, Enlightened, Confident.
After you do all of this, you can begin creating your brand identity, writing your brand messaging (verbal and written tone), and setting guidelines to ensure your branding is consistent.
When your audience perceives your brand to be the brand you intended to create, you have branded your business successfully!
Now onto the good stuff!
How a Strong and Consistent Brand can Help Your Business Grow
1. Makes the Right First Impression
By having a polished and well-put-together brand, you can make a great first impression, even if you’re a brand new business! On the flip side, if your brand is all over the place with things like blurry graphics, all kinds of different fonts and colors, multiple spelling errors, etc., this could hinder your marketing efforts, leaving you spinning your wheels for quite a bit of time.
Whether we like it or not, people do tend to judge a book by its cover. You probably wouldn’t feel totally excited to purchase from a business that never took the time to invest in their branding, would you? If a business misrepresents who they are or doesn’t communicate what kind of value they can provide for you, you may not even bother giving them a chance in the first place.
By putting effort into every area of your brand, you show others right off the bat that you a professional and valuable business. When people recognize your value, they will be more likely to choose you.
2. Creates Trust
A strong, consistent brand will help people know what to expect each time they encounter your business. A professional, put-together appearance will build credibility and trust, which can increase business, as well as repeat business, as people are more likely to purchase from a brand that feels legitimate and trustworthy.
3. Improves Recognition
By providing a cohesive look, style, and tone for your brand, and by continuously putting your brand out there through numerous marketing streams, your brand becomes recognizable and memorable. People love familiarity so if you’re remembered as a quality provider, then you will be more likely to get repeat business.
4. Helps you Stand Out Against Competition
By creating a brand that is unique to you, your personality, and your business, you will stand out more from the competition. When you stand out, you become the brand at the forefront of people’s minds when they are thinking about who can help them in the best way or who can provide them with what they need.
5. Helps You Come Across as More Valuable
Let’s say you and a friend have almost identical jeans, however, hers are from a fashion label and yours are not. She paid considerably more for hers and when you ask her why she says “because mine has better quality material.”
Your friend is a person who values quality and who also wants to feel extra awesome when she’s wearing those jeans.
BUT, did she read the labels inside both jeans to determine what they were made of? Did she try your jeans on to compare them? No. She didn’t do any kind of comparing!
She bought the more expensive pair from a brand she already associated with quality, high-end materials. That brand differentiated itself from its competition by associating itself with luxurious products that invoked positive feelings in its customers.
That being said, people will pay more for something they believe is better quality and to get a better overall experience. By showing people how valuable you and your business are, you will be able to grow your business with much less effort.
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6. Creates a Connection
An emotional connection matters more than customer satisfaction. By connecting with your audience on an emotional level, you can get people excited about your business and give them a reason to care about what you offer.
A strong brand will pay attention to its customers, learn from them, and make an effort to get a better understanding of what they need. It will then make considerable efforts to touch on their pain points and come up with solutions that will solve their problems.
By showing your customers they are important to you, you can build your brand loyalty. You can do this by using a language they connect with and treating them like they matter on social media. Engaging with who they are, listening to what they are saying, and replying authentically in a timely manner can help humanize your brand, which can help you build that emotional connection.
A strong brand works hard to create a genuine human connection and build authentic relationships with their customers. Once trust and rapport are in place, marketing strategies are much more likely to succeed.
7. Generates Referrals
A strong brand can create referrals or viral traffic as people love to tell others about the brands they connect with and have positive experiences with. In fact, most people will try out a brand after getting a recommendation from a friend or family member, or even reading a review about that brand’s product or service.
I hope this post helped you learn how important branding is for your business, especially if you are planning to offer great products or high levels of service!
If you are okay with running a mediocre business, struggling to find customers or clients, wasting your time on all of your marketing efforts, and don’t mind struggling to pay your bills every month, don’t bother investing any time or money into branding your business (I’ve personally been there, done that… learn from me!! 😉 )
BUT, if you want to be a badass business owner who provides AMAZING products or services, attracts other AWESOME people to your business with ease, gets paid well to do MORE of what you’re most passionate about, and ultimately creates a SUCCESSFUL business and life you LOVE, then I highly recommend investing in a professional who can help take your business and your life to the next level!
Oh, and by the way. That’s what I do.
I help entrepreneurs, small businesses and bloggers transform their big dreams into reality through custom branding, WordPress website design, and online marketing.
If you’re interested in working together, you can check out my services here!
Want to Keep Learning?
Check out some of my other posts on branding!
- Why You May Need More than One Logo for Your Brand
- 5 Types of Logo Variations to Consider for Your Brand