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Branding for Business Success

If you were a fly on the wall, what do you think people would say about you and your business?

Branding is what remains in people’s heads about you, it is the sum of what they think about you when you are not there. So, what do you want people to think about you?

When it comes to branding, you either brand yourself or people will decide for themselves what your brand is. You can’t be neutral and therefore, you have to get in front of the branding and control the narrative and perception people have about you and your business. Branding your business is about creating your business reputation. It is about establishing your business identity. It allows you to communicate to customers; what you do and why you do it. This communication allows people to understand your business, and to have an emotional connection to your business, whether they hate it or love it, they will feel something about it and that is already better than having a business that people neither know of, nor care about.

Before people can begin to have an opinion of your brand, they need to know about it, and herein comes marketing. Marketing and branding are not the same, marketing is a vehicle for branding, a tool you use to deliver your identity to consumers, your “why” to consumers. Think about a company like Kauai, are they selling wraps and healthy juices? Or are they selling a healthy lifestyle, clean living, a longer life? People aren’t buying wraps; they are buying a healthier body. Why? Because the company has effectively branded itself as a resource to a healthier lifestyle. In the same way when you brand your business think about the impression people will have of your business.

When it comes to branding your business, here are 3 useful tips that can help you…

1. Make the right associations

Which political party are you affiliated with and do you want people to know about your political affiliation? Which mobile cell-phone company are you using and why? Better yet; as a business, which partners do you associate with and are you proud of them? Each of these questions should make you think about the power of brand association. If you associate with brands that have a negative perception, your brand will start to have that same image, if you associate with brands that are perceived to be valuable, efficient, successful and impactful, likewise; your brand will begin to be associated with the same values and this can elevate your brand. You always want to attach the highest value to your brand and this can come in the from making/choosing the right associations. Associations present an opportunity for your brand, both good and bad, use the right ones and elevate your brand.

2. Start at the finish line

What is your reputation, what do you want people to think about when they think of your company...? That should be your starting point, once you have this established then you can begin a marketing campaign or create a logo or poster or slogan... It's easier to know the direction you want to take your customers to once you've been there, start at the destination and then work backwards because your branding should inspire your marketing efforts, in this way there is consistency of your identity, customers won’t experience your brand acting “inauthentic” or “off-brand”.

3. Establish an emotional connection.

Branding should have an emotional impact. Think about influencers for example, people follow them because they can relate to them, or because they are aspirational. They all do the same thing, they show off relatively the same lifestyle; the Louis Vuitton bags, the trips to Dubai etc. People that follow them aspire to have that lifestyle and “supposed” luxury. People follow them and have some emotional connection to them because they have established a personal brand. In business, that emotional connection will get you advocate customers who are dedicated, loyal, and will even market for you, these customers will “go to bat for you” they will defend your company like it’s their own company. Think about Apple customers. Have you heard how people will fight for Apple products and defend them like somehow Apple is paying them? Exactly, that's because Apple has created such a strong brand identity that they have been able to cement an emotional connection with consumers. Likewise creating an emotional connection with your customers through branding will lead to customer loyalty and increased sales because of repeat business from these customers who are not only your brand advocates, but also your brand’s raving fans.

That plays an important role in terms of people making a decision about whether they will buy from you, buy from you more than once or leave you completely. You brand is your signature in business. Every business needs one. The clearer the brand is, the stronger it can be, and the higher the demand can be for that brand. As we know, increased demand can lead to increased sales which means more money in your pocket. Marketing and branding go hand in hand and if you can master the art of branding, you can master the art of marketing.

ActionCOACH Thabo Pitse

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