It is not a cliche or an exaggeration, when people say that branding is very important for a business. No matter how small or how big your business is, ‘your brand’ matters. Understand that branding is not ‘having a logo’, or a fancy business name or social media accounts; branding is so much more.
Therefore, in the post, I’d be educating you on what branding really is, the questions to answer when positioning your business and the different aspects of branding. Excited? Yea! Me too.
What is Branding?
Branding in its truest form is the point of distinction between you and your competitors. It is also the total perception of you (your product or service) in the marketplace.
Two very important things to take note of in my definition are: Point of distinction and Perception.
Point of distinction
When it comes to branding, you must be able to create branding elements (distinct features) including but not limited to logo, name, tagline, taste etc that easily distinguishes you from your competitors. People should be able to easily identify your brand and tell you apart from others.
Ever heard the saying that you are not who you say you are but who your customers day you are? Yea!
Therefore, more than the brand elements, you must ensure that the perception you create during daily interaction, people’s expectations and experiences are right for your brand. You must be able to create the perception that your brand is credible and can be trusted.
It is also important for me to state here that the intrinsic value of a brand usually stems from perceived quality and or emotional attachment. In other words, if you want to create the right perception, if you want to sell and if you want to have a successful brand/business, then you must be able to connect emotionally to your target audience (via your marketing communications); make them laugh, cry etc. Also, you people should be able to perceive you as good.
When positioned right, any brand can develop a strong brand equity.
Now, let’s talk about how you can effectively position your brand to attain top position in the minds of your target market.
This is the place in a customer’s mind, that you want your brand to be and to own. It is the benefit they associate your brand with.
It deals with customers’ perception and receptiveness and is the reason why a customer would pick your product or service over competitors or a competitor’s over yours. It is what makes or mars your brand and what leads to or away from a strong brand equity.
How to Position Your Brand
To effectively position a brand, you must first answer five questions:
Who are you? / What do you do? Are you a product or a service? What product or service are you? What is your industry? What is your niche in that industry? What would you be known for?
It is very important you clearly define who you are. If you cannot define it, then surely your customers would not be able to do so too.
Who do you serve? What is your target market/ target audience? What are their characteristics and demographics? What are their wants and tastes? How do they want what they want? How can you meet their needs? How do they think? Where do they spend most of their time? Knowing your target audience is very important because they determine everything you do like what channels you use for marketing, your voice, your donation, your pricing etc
What differentiates you? What is your selling point? Why should your target market choose you over others? What makes you different from your competitors?
How do you intend to grow your brand? What strategies do you intend to employ to grow and maintain your brand? Where would you advertise? What distribution channels would you use? What online platforms would you use? How would you deliver and communicate your brand message? Brand positioning is not just about creating the brand, it is important you look closely into the development of that brand. It is never too early to start.
What is your Brand Promise? What experience do you intend leaving your customers with? What problem are you solving and How are you solving it? What expectation are you working to fulfil? Your customers would not remember you for the product or service you delivered, but for the experience you gave them.
Your brand promise must be: Credible; Deliverable; Must Provide Value; and Must Tap on Emotions
Branding is a one-time thing
This is a very big misconception. Branding is not something you do once and then forget it thing. Branding is continuous, Branding takes time. As long as you have a business, you’d need to continuously work to improve your brand – your perception.
Branding is the same as Marketing
Marketing is the set of processes and tools used in promoting your business. It only communicates your brand message while branding, on the other hand, is the culture itself, the message that suffuses and rules all the processes of your business. While marketing normally centers on a series of campaigns and promotions. The business brand is the subtle, but significant, unchanging background for marketing campaigns.
Competitors do not matter
Your competitors matter a lot. A huge mistake you could make when starting off, is not checking in on the competition.
It is important you check them out, to know what they do right, so you can do it better and know what they do wrong, so you can avoid it.
Peace Itimi is an Accounts Manager at Webcoupers.
Photo Credit: Mariusz Szczawinski | Dreamstime