As business owners, many times, we tend to focus on short term things: fast results, quick marketing techniques, how to get cashflow…And they’re all important! But we also need to consider that everything we do impacts our potential consumers in the long term as well, so we need to pay attention to our branding and take advantage of the perception our branding offers.
What Is A Brand?
There’s a lot of misconceptions about this. Many believe your brand is your logo, the name of your business or the colors you use. The reality is that this is only a very small part of what your brand is. Marty Neumeier, an expert in branding and marketing, said “A brand is a result. It is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization.” So, your brand is not what you say it is, it’s what everyone else says it is because it’s about how we make people feel. That’s the problem with most business: we think so much about ourselves, what we want and what we feel about our own businesses, but we need to understand that our brand does not revolve around that.
Think about a brand like Apple, for example. When you hear this word or when you see that logo, you get all of these ideas, good or bad, that make you feel a certain way, and this is what determines whether you love it or you hate it. That is exactly what a brand is and how perception works. If you were to just look at the logo for what it is on its own and see it as nothing else, it would tell you nothing, it’s just an apple! So that’s how we know that there’s much more behind the logo....that makes the brand.
Why is Branding So Important?
The brand behind your business determines the perception of what your product or service is worth in the eyes of the consumer.
What you charge
Who you can work with
Long-term stability of your business
We need to take advantage of all these factors to manage perception so that we can be the one a client wants to do business with. Even though two people might offer the same service, there’s differentiation behind those services, and what causes this differentiation is position in the market which determines your value in the eyes of the consumer. So, it really is all about perception!
Nike vs. Sketchers - What is the Difference?
Let’s compare these two companies to have a better understanding of how branding and perception work. Both companies are valuable and successful, but their annual revenue is extremely different. The difference in price per product is caused by the brand, perception, and communication that each of these companies has with their audience.
Let’s focus on the ad campaigns from Sketchers, first. There’s a lot of variety, but no core message in all of it. They only present their product without appealing to the consumers feelings or emotions.
Nike is the opposite. They still have a variety of people, ages, and athletic levels, but the message stays the same: the idea of possibility, dreaming and achieving that dream. Nike has given to its customers a sense of belonging and desire. They capitalize on our innate instinct of dreaming and achieving, and it has worked!
Unfortunately, the quality of a product doesn’t always justify a higher price or better revenue. Some businesses think if they have the best product or service they will blow up, but that’s not necessarily true. The branding behind the product is what really determines the value. You’re better off with a mediocre product but an amazing branding and marketing, than you would with an amazing product and mediocre branding and marketing. As unfair as this sounds, we need to come to terms with the idea that this is how business works.
How Can You Apply This to Your Own Business?
1. Determine your overall goal - the goal of your business should shape every decision you make. If your goal is money, to be the best, to have a side job or support your family, then your decisions as a business should align with that.
2. Research and understand your market as much as possible - you should understand your market in every way: statistically, demographically, how do they feel, what do they need, what do they care about and what service do you offer that solves their problem. It’s important that you have not just a broad idea, but to get specific and understand all of this to the last detail.
3. Use that research so you will communicate with your audience better - They need to be appealed to a very specific way. Everyone is inherently selfish, so we need to appeal to those selfish ideas, to what they want. Don’t tell them about you, tell them about how you can help them.
4. Make sure everything that you do is up to par with the image you want to portray - if you want to be the best in your industry, you need to make sure everything about your company shows it. You should have an amazing business card, an amazing website, the style should be luxurious. Everything should show the quality of your product, otherwise you will lose the idea of perception. And perception must be consistent with every single way. That’s why brand strategy is so important because it helps you plan accordingly.
5. Focus on the longevity of your brand in every decision and action you make as a business - don’t get caught up in the day-to-day decisions. Of course, cashflow and results are important, but you also want to make sure that everything you do as a business makes sense long term. If you’ve been in business for 10 years and you haven’t focused on your branding, you’ve lost those 10 years of consistent branding and perception.
Why is Branding So Important?
Marty Neumeier, mentioned above, also said “Only one competitor can be the cheapest – the others have to use branding. The stronger the brand the greater the profit margin.” There’s no better way of saying it. As business owners, we become competitive and try to do more for less, and when you realize it you’re the cheapest, making no money and being completely unfulfilled in what you’re doing. Branding helps us create a position in the market to help us break out from that. Being the cheapest is not a good position. You need something to give you an excuse to charge more and tell people why, that will convince them to do business with you instead of your cheaper competitor. Not everything revolves about price, some people want results and quality, so you have to position yourself to be able to charge a specific amount, and this will determine who your customers are.
If you focus on your brand, just like Nike has, you will be able to stand out from your competitors and have better results in the long-term. Unfortunately, most small businesses tend to ignore this fact. But branding is important for any size business and our goal at Norris Design is to bring this idea, value and information to small businesses so they can have the resources, just like large businesses do, to be able to break into that and take advantage of it.
Contact us for a free consultation on how we can help improve your business' perception!
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