It can be easy to dismiss brand and business as being one and the same. And sure, they go hand in hand – but there’s a big difference in how each should be actioned, writes Shayne Tilley, Head of Marketing at 99designs.
While your business is undoubtedly your foundation (after all, it’s what you sell and what you do) – your brand is what makes you, you. Many entrepreneurs think that building a brand is simply getting an eye-catching logo and slick website – especially when starting out – but it goes so much deeper than that.
Ultimately, your brand is your differentiator. No matter how unique you are, you have competitors. Your brand supports your business objectives by clearly and consistently communicating who you are, what you stand for and helps form lasting relationships with your customers..
Here’s three solid reasons why building a brand (not just a business) should be at the top of your priority list!
Reason 1: A business sells products. A brand creates connections.
It’s estimated that 95 per cent of our purchasing decisions are based on emotion but customers will very rarely connect in a meaningful way with a product by itself. You could have a better product offering than your closest competitor, but if you don’t let your brand personality and values shine through and create a human connection with your customers, you might miss out on that sale to someone who does.
Building a sustainable business is all about leveraging brand storytelling to communicate who you are and your reason for doing what you do, while providing all the essential information customers need. If you manage this, you’re likely to develop long lasting relationships that will see them coming back time and time again.
Take time to consider how you convey your brand personality, values and story. No detail is too small – think about everything from your logo design right through to the colours you use on your website and the tone of voice you use in your communications.
Reason 2: A business puts itself first. A brand puts its customers first.
Businesses obviously need to focus on selling products and services, but the most successful brands are those that put the customer at the heart of everything they do. This means considering and anticipating their needs above everything else – every single time they interact with you or your business.
Think of all the touch points customers have with your business, from your website to your social media channels and marketing emails. Is your communication and branding consistent and clear across all of these channels? Is your website easy to use and navigate? Have you thought about how your product packaging can surprise and delight when they finally get hold of your product?
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and try to understand what they might want and need from interacting with your products and business. Making their life easier puts you head and shoulders about the competition.
Reason 3: A business waits for customers to come to it. A brand finds customers where they already are.
Waiting for customers to come to you will only get you so far. Brands that make enduring impressions on customers are the ones that find and interact with target consumers where they already are. When developing your brand, a large portion of your time should be spent on identifying your ideal customers – who they are, what they’re interested in, what they want and where they are (online or otherwise). By doing this you can find and reach your target market in a natural way, and create an organic affinity with certain groups as a result.
A strong brand is about more than just its product or service, so this isn’t just a case of rolling out targeted ads (although that’s definitely worth doing if you’ve done your research). Think about other ways you can add value to your customers’ day-to-day lives, from useful and educational blog posts to light-hearted relief through social media content. Ultimately, this approach is about showing that you understand your customers and is a sure fire way to build strong loyalty in customers.
The bottom line is that building a successful brand is about more than just selling something. It’s about creating deep long-lasting relationships with customers that will future-proof your business. Customers are more likely to return when they know what to expect. When they know what to expect, they trust you. And people are much more likely to recommend a brand they trust.
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