Building an effective brand is one of the most critical investments you could ever make in your business or organization. Great brands thrive. Horrible brands die. Even if you have a fantastic service or product, you can find yourself struggling to stay alive because your brand doesn’t resonate or connect with your audience. Today I want to talk about the essence of branding and why it’s important for you to invest in it.
What is Branding?
Some of us imagine a fiery hot iron rod with a unique symbol being burned onto the backside of a cow. This type of branding leaves a lasting scar or impression (and horrible smell) and it tells people who the cow belongs to. Pretty effective, right? Other people would say that a brand is nothing more than a sexy logo, identified with unique colors and adorned with an awesome tagline. Like the cow, this symbol tells people who you are or what “tribe” you belong to. It’s still an effective strategy.
While both of these ideas capture a portion of the branding picture, they really don’t paint the full picture of what business branding is all about. You cannot build a great brand by only having a memorable logo or captivating tagline. It’s not enough!
Branding is all about making a strong emotional connection to the audience you want to reach. Whether you call them clients or customers, partners or donors, your brand must provide an experience that these people can relate to on a higher level. If you do that, then it will help you build a long-term and profitable business.
Think about Harley Davidson. For decades they have built motorcycles that were notorious for breaking down because of mechanical failures. They didn’t make a better bike than their competitors, but the Harley Davidson brand resonated with a large group of people who were willing to buy the brand over the bike. People wanted to personify the “American Rebel” even though they weren’t actually a rebel. The brand sells Harley Davidson, not the actual bike. This is a perfect example of how you can have a decent product but a great brand and still come out on top!
Other brands that people love and pay more for include Apple, Starbucks, American Fighter, BMW, Colt Arms, or Saddleback Leather. They all deliver wonderful products, but what we really pay for is the brand experience.
The Brand Experience IS Everything!
When I talk about brand experience, I mean more than a snazzy logo or an engaging website. The brand experience is about EVERY touchpoint a customer or client will have with your company — from your business cards to your website to the conversations you have on social media to how you handle phone calls with customers. Every interaction is a touchpoint and every touchpoint counts when it comes to building your brand. This is why it’s critical to get your brand message right from the very beginning.
Why Branding Is Important for Your Company
Consumers choose brands for numerous reasons, but many buy because they feel an emotional connection to the company. Sometimes these feelings can be easy to explain and other times they cannot. But brands that resonate with the hearts of a consumer will always win over those who do not.
Shoes are a perfect example. Payless and TOMS both have good shoes. Payless may even have products that look like TOMS, but TOMS will always win out because their brand stands for something: One for One. Consumers love that TOMS gives back and they feel socially responsible by purchasing their products.
Branding is important for your company because you want to stand out or connect with your target audience. You want to build fans around your products or services. You want to be lovable because lovable sells more. Boring and ugly brands get looked over and this kills profits and sustainability. If you haven’t been taking your brand seriously, you should! It can be the determining factor between success and failure.
Key Thoughts and Questions for You:
- Are you telling the right brand story for your company? Does it connect with consumers or clients?
- Does your audience care or talk about your brand, online or offline?
- Are you doing a great job of delivering a great brand experience through all touchpoints with your company? If not, what can you improve?
- Can you make your brand lovable?
Be honest with yourself and your team about the answers. If you discover that you are lacking in certain areas, make the decision to invest whatever it takes to build your brand and to deliver an awesome experience. It will be well worth it.