It is a well-known fact that a renowned and valued brand is one of the most important assets a business can own. Nielsen Survey in 2015 discovered that 60% of consumers prefer to buy new products from brands they are already familiar with. As an up-and-coming business competing against bigger brands with loyal patrons and a fat marketing purse, you must find ways to stand out with a unique brand of your own. Building a brand, and not just a business is the gateway to massive growth and consumer-brand loyalty.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, puts it more succinctly; “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
The Relationship between a Brand and a Business.
People regularly interchange the words “brand” and “business”. Though similar, they are not really the same thing. A business is a company or organization that produces products and/or offers services while the brand is the image or identity of said business. The amount of creativity and work put into branding is directly proportional to the recognition of the business itself.
Building a business will produce immediate results but without a brand to hold it all together, this success may be short-lived. On the other hand, focusing on building a brand will earn you customer loyalty but without a strong business model, those customers might soon take their money elsewhere. Your brand and your business are inextricably linked.
How to Build a Brand
What exactly sets a business aside from a brand? Is it the amount of revenue generated? Or the number of branches the business has? Can it be measured like social media metrics – with likes and retweets?
A business morphs into a brand when it goes above and beyond its original niche. It becomes a brand when it can take its existent core values and infuse those ideas into every other thing it ventures into. Case in point, Lego™. Originally a toy-making company, Lego built a reputation for “childhood imagination and creativity.” Today, the company has gone beyond its initial niche with successful ventures into shoes, video games, amusement parks, robotics, and more recently, feature films. Lego, the iconic brand, exists today not only because of smart business choices but because they were able to fuse “childhood imagination and creativity” into everything they set their hands on.
Here are some tips on how to create such a lasting brand for your business.
Define your Purpose.
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. The goal is not to do business with everybody that needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.” – Simon Sinek.
Evaluate the products and services you offer. Find out where in the market they fit in and pinpoint who your customers are. In doing this you will be able to uncover their needs and concerns. Why does your business exist? What sets it apart? What problem do you solve?
Originality is the Sole of Business.
It is wrong to mimic the big brands in your industry because what works for them might not particularly work for you. However, it is a smart move to be aware of their strengths as well as where they fail. The goal is to set your business apart from the competition, not to become a low-budget version of them.
Consistency is key. Do not constantly change your branding. Instability will confuse your customers and make it harder for them to form long-term connections with your brand. Once you establish a brand identity use it for everything your business creates.
Have a Strong Visual Identity.
One of the first things that come to mind when building a brand is visuals. Creativity is very important for this stage of your brand strategy. Your logo will pop up alongside everything that has to do with your business and as such you must be willing to invest time and money to get someone who can create a unique visual identity for your brand. It is advisable to hire an experienced professional designer or branding agency.
Create a Brand Mission Statement.
Apart from your visual identity, you have to draft a clear statement of what your company is passionate about. The Nike tagline, Just Do It, is very popular but their mission statement is not as well known – “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” This statement defines Nike’s purpose for existing. Creating a statement like this will inform every other aspect of your brand strategy.
How to Build a Business.
When you start up a business you hope for rapid growth, overnight success is the exception and not the rule. It is no wonder why there are hundreds of books out there on the topic of scaling up small businesses. However, there is no surefire method to ensure that a business grows. If there was one then there would not be as many failed and failing businesses around today. A Fundera report using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics from last year said that roughly 20% of small businesses fail within the first year. By the end of the second year, 30% of businesses will have failed. By the end of the fifth year, about half will have failed. And by the end of the decade, only 30% of businesses will remain — a 70% failure rate.
As earlier stated, you must be able to balance your attention between the branding aspect of things and the business end if you want your company to make a profit and to avoid falling into the category of failed businesses. Here are some suggestions on how to make it happen.
Hire the Right Team.
Christian Lanng, CEO and chairman of business software provider Tradeshift, stated “Hiring the absolute best people you can is a surefire way to ensure fast growth. It’s all about having the right team.” Having the right team on your side can mean the difference between your business soaring or sinking. Before even thinking about growing your business, you must ensure that you have a solid staff that can help you pull it off.
Focus on your Established Market.
In a bid to grow their business, business owners often make the mistake of seeking out new customers and markets. While this in itself is not a bad idea, it distracts the business from satisfying the already established stream of income it has. The best way to encourage repeat business is to start customer loyalty programs or creative marketing campaigns.
It is nearly impossible to do away with risks when growing a business. You cannot control everything, but there are ways to reduce internal and external threats to your business. One important way to accomplish this is to invest in business insurance
Invest in your Business.
The first few years in business are usually characterized by a lean profit margin and sometimes none at all. It stands to reason that any little money made at this point should be funneled right back into the business.
Christian Lanng while speaking on the topic said; “A startup’s ability to invest in itself helps accelerate growth, in those early years, it’s critical to make sure that you’re redirecting any revenues back into the company. It’s vital to invest early and heavily to grow quickly.“
Leverage Social Media.
Create profiles for your business on all the major social media platforms. This allows your business to reach a larger market and interact with potential consumers. 63% of customers expect companies to offer customer service through their social media – and 90% of social media users have already connected with a brand or business through their chosen platform. Bringing your business to social media means consumers can find your business faster. Don’t forget: Building a successful business is not a day’s journey.
How a Great Brand can spur Business Growth.
Many organizations tend to neglect spending the time to build a great brand and instead focus on business development. In today’s marketplace, it is important to stand out from the myriad of similar businesses out there. Competition now takes place on a global stage and not just within the limits of your local economy. A clear, consistent brand allows your customer to know what to look forward to every time they interact with your business. This in turn helps you to be more strategic with your marketing, saving time and making money.
Branding Equals Recognition.
Branding is how your business becomes known to your customers. Your brand is the face of your business. This is why a logo is widely considered the most important element of branding. Your logo should make a strong impression at first glance, it should be powerful and easy to recall. Think Nike or Apple.
Branding Motivates Employees.
Employees tend to have a higher degree of pride in the work that they do when they work for a company with a strong brand. It makes it much easier for them to have a sense of belonging and imbibe its core values. Your brand strategy provides the clarity that your staff needs to work more effectively. Great branding can help you hire better employees, create a strong company culture, and cut down marketing costs.
Branding Creates Trust.
A professional brand strategy will help your business build trust with customers and potential clients. Stong online reputation is also built with good branding. It even tends to make rival businesses take you more seriously. People are more likely to do business with a company that has put in the work to get a polished image. Proper branding gives off the impression of being an expert in your industry which automatically makes people feel like they can trust your company and be assured of the quality of its products and services.
Branding Brings Customers.
Good branding serves as a foundation for continuous referrals. If there exists a positive impression of your business among your existing customers, they are not only more likely to keep doing business with you but to also recommend your products and services to their friends and family. Once you can establish a strong brand identity, your most effective advertising channel will be by word of mouth.
Truthfully, branding is not an overnight miracle…or even a few months. Brand building is much more than just a beautiful logo or website. A great brand is one where the customers connect on an emotional level with the business because the core values of the business resonate deeply with them.
Loosely quoting Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks and former owner of the Seattle Supersonics, if people believe they share values with your business, they will stay loyal to the brand. Good brands don’t just happen, they are the result of strong strategic plans.