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What does it mean to have a successful business nowadays? Is it about producing a lot? Is it about selling a lot? Maybe it is about supporting noble causes like protection of the environment? In a world where the battle to win over a customer is waged by an increasing number of companies daily, it is not only about having a great idea and some means to implement it. It is about creating a lasting connection with a customer, cater to their needs and curate an image. This and much more can be put under a single umbrella called branding!
What actually is branding?
Why is it even the first point? Shouldn’t it be quite obvious? Well, not really! The concept of branding constantly develops, changes and adapts to the changing conditions, be it technological advances or societal shifts.
So, getting to the point – long story short, branding is what a customer thinks of your company when it is being mentioned. Wow, so, like, influencing what your customers think of you would require some sort of brainwashing machine, right? Well, not really! You can do that by changing and improving your business!
Branding is a great way to obtain long-term loyal customers
Obviously, your business needs to be based on the product or a service it offers – you can’t set up a company that sells nothing! However, simply offering something is not enough to actually sell it and make a living out of it (not to mention being able to expand!).
Marketing is a great way to drive sales, but when done right, branding is much better at turning people into loyal customers. It is however a long-term strategy and it requires your and your employees’ utmost dedication. The awareness of your brand in the minds of your customers is formulated when you actually start doing the things you talk about in your marketing campaigns. If you boast about using local produce – actually use it and be able to prove it! If you pride yourself on creating a workplace based on friendship and laid-back boss-employees relations – implement such a model! If you’re successful, you can win over the people’s hearts! If not and the things you claim are just words – your campaign can backfire terribly!
It’s worth it to settle for a niche and carve your own place
Don’t try to do everything. If you run a consulting business – target a specific area, for example, the investment banking sector. If you’re opening a restaurant, try to include several dishes you perfected on your menu instead of preparing a small book filled with loads of different types of food. As the range of your products or services increases, the competition starts to come from many more sides! These businesses might actually have the advantage of being focused over you. Providing a single perfectly done thing is so much better than offering 20 mediocre products!
Don’t be better – be new
What’s behind Asus or Dell? Both of these produce excellent electronic equipment, but you’d need to do some research to actually know the differences in design, functionalities, etc. Now compare that to Apple. Not only the first point of contact stands out – a minimal logo that includes a symbol instead of a company name as well as the design of their devices. Dig a bit deeper – woah, a distinct operating system! Apple got big and became the leader of innovation, because they decided to be different and unique, not because they tried to improve what Microsoft was doing. This is the very foundation their brand is based upon. Apple might seem like an untouchable giant, but their approach to business can be seen among a myriad of small businesses. A craftsman that starts using a different kind of wood to achieve better results or Cronut – a business that sells donuts made out of croissant dough!
Name, logo and design are important
These three are often the first things that your customers encounter when they look up or visit your business. Because of the fact that they reflect you, they create an instant as well as a lasting impression. That’s why you need to take some extra effort to create a name and a logo that stand out, and mirror your values as well your business. The design also needs to reflect that. When talking about design, I am thinking about everything from the furniture in your shops, through your website, up to the graphics and posts you upload on your social media channels. To put it simply – your brand needs to be consistent on all platforms!
Recognizing and catering to the needs of your customers can really benefit you
Would your customers care if your business engaged in some form of charity? Definitely yes! Would they care if you hired local people and used local produce – umm, we have a yes on that! Then like, go ahead and do it, be genuine about it and let your customers know what you do!
Social media is a great tool for building your brand
The possibilities of creating unique social media channels are endless! It’s up to you whether you stay backed out and only post on special occasions or go full on and write about everything. As more and more people use social media daily, it’s a great platform to create your brand identity. Make sure the language you use and content you post reflects your business and its characteristics – these are the small things like that, that can make or break your customers’ impression of your company!
Branding is not that hard! Once you have your business all set up, it will come naturally from your actions on the market. Who you are and what you do will define the foundations, on which you brand can be constructed. It however cannot be taken for granted! You constantly need to plan and implement your branding campaign – this will not come by itself.
When done right, branding can bring your business numerous benefits, the most significant one being customer loyalty, which in the age of competition and businesses that emerge on a daily basis, is a hard thing to obtain and even harder to secure!