Branding is a prevalent factor in marketing today. It almost feels like the little guy has no chance against the corporate behemoths. And this is especially shown with how some brands have infiltrated mainstream culture and blended into an almost frightening degree. But is there more to it?
What is Branding?
Let’s make a quick introduction. What is branding? As defined by the Cambridge dictionary branding is: “the act of giving a company a particular design or symbol in order to advertise its products and services”. So a brand is supposed to be the manifestation of the business for the world to see.
The Effects of Branding and its Implementation
Branding today is a part of everyday life, it feels like if you want to succeed you must focus on making your brand known. Having a well-known brand has a psychological effect on the consumer. Even though it’s mostly perceived as a logo with pretty colors, but it’s much more than that. It can manipulate the mind of the consumer by triggering certain feelings. What better example than the McDonald’s logo. The red color is primarily used to stimulate feelings of hunger. It pumps your blood pressure and makes you more aware, while the color yellow is more visible during daylight and is associated with feelings of happiness. This makes a dynamic duo for the fast-food industry. Reeling in people who would have maybe otherwise eaten at a different place (or even not eaten at all!). Colors play a big part in making a logo and establishing a brand that will be popular across multiple generations and it’s key in provoking certain subconscious reactions.
The same can be said for the bond that is shared between consumer and provider. The consumer will grow an attachment to a brand if they have had a satisfactory history with it, causing it to automatically put it on a pedestal when comparing them with another product (a fact that can be and is abused). It can lead to more business and higher attraction for your product.
Branding is critical, but for behemoth corporations. Chances are, if you are a small business owner, branding will be the least of your worries (and rightfully so). If you are conducting business on a small scope, committing funds into branding instead of bettering your product/service can prove to be devastating for business. As we have previously mentioned, a strong brand causes emotions and a bond between customer and provider. However, this goes both ways on the feelings that a person has towards a brand. If customers have a bad experience with your brand, they will remember it. People do not forget as easily as one might think, and having an asserted brand means that people will have stronger negative associations with it. This can lead a brand towards becoming an amplifier. The high-tech giants that have good branding also maintain good (if not great) quality control. This means that more often than not people will have positive associations with them. If you are starting out as a business, investing in branding can prove to be fatal. If a customer thinks your product/services are a sham, they will remember it.
Another point is that branding is there as a manifestation of where you should focus your emotions. It doesn’t change the actual value you get out of the product, only its perceived value. Now, this might be a bit complex but keep in mind that a quality product remains just as qualitative without the brand, and you can usually get the gist of a quality product when you research it.
So How Can I Have a Strong Brand That Won’t be Detrimental to My Business?
Anyone can just pay a graphic designer to make them a cheap logo, but what does it take to have a strong brand that will represent you? Branding strategies are complex and are handled by teams of experts. It’s not something one can just learn overnight. You need to create a branding strategy that will reflect your business’s points and goals. Not to mention the factor of competition. You should adapt your goals to the competition. This is why a popular business strategy is focusing on a niche and absolutely dominating it! By doing so you will stand out from the rest of the competition by clearly being different from the rest, although this dwells more in overall business strategy.
Regarding actual branding, you shouldn’t disregard branding at all, it still remains an important aspect of marketing. Think about your business and what you are providing and try to manifest it in a logo, make it be clearly recognizable by the products/services that you offer. Remember how we talked about people not forgetting about things easily? It goes both ways. If you are consistently friendly, precise, and deliver on quality people will talk about you, especially on the local level via mouth-to-mouth. So financing a local charity event (think of the publicity!) or even paying for sponsorship can go a long way, you can easily ask them to display an event banner that will clearly tell the viewer who you are and what is it that you offer.
Branding as a Local Business Without Overdoing it
As you might have figured so far, we strongly discourage putting a large focus on branding as a small business. However, this doesn’t mean it should be left out completely as well. The best combination would be to allocate some funds but also do your research so that you get the most out of it. Depending on the type of business you are running there can be multiple go-to ways of doing so.
Optimizing Your SEO
In order to have a strong online presence, it is imperative to optimize your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) so that you come up on the top of internet searches. This is more important in markets where there is tough competition.
Local Presence and Partnerships
Financing local events (especially charity ones) can bring you a long way in terms of publicity and prestige in the community. This will allow you to have a strong offline presence. Another way of stimulating interest is by forming partnerships with other small businesses (that you aren’t competing with). This can be accomplished with simple arrangements such as trading coupons to the partner business.
In Conclusion, strong branding can be done without pouring massive funds. It’s especially recommendable for smaller businesses to steer away from brand obsessiveness. Remain innovative and efficient and focus on offering great quality goods and having a humble yet relatable and clearly identifiable logo and you will be fine.