In this business world we’re often told we need this and that, but let’s face it, you’re already putting in too many hours each day. The last thing you need is another item in your to–do list.
Branding is one of those things that truly, not every business needs. You might already have a great, clear brand that you and your customers agree on.
Branding, you see, is not your logo or brand colours.
What’s in a Brand?
A brand is what people think about your business. Branding, as a verb, is your effort to influence this. Everything affects your brand, for example, the tone of your voice in your communications, the look of your site and materials, right down to the font and amount of whitespace – things like that.
To get that right, you need to know and understand your customer. It’s easy to feel that focusing on one type of customer is limiting. Limiting your market is the last thing you want to do, right?
But narrowing down a little makes it easy to be consistent and target the people who will be most receptive to your message. And having an angle also only makes you more attractive to people who not only have the problem you want to solve, but also think the way you do.
As an example, here at KeyTech, we know we’re just one of a few managed IT and communications service providers in town. We think we’re the best, but being the best isn’t really the only thing we value ourselves on. We know it’s listening to our customers, and our dedication to solving their real problems that brings in (and keeps) customers. But not just any customers: customers who value good service and understand that it will save them time and money. Now that’s not every business. But by not being for everyone, we can be a better partner for you.
Our brand is when you know that’s what we’re about. If you don’t’ know it, then we need more ‘branding.’
Why would anyone need branding?
The truth is that every business has a brand. Think about in terms of people: whether we like it or not, people’s actions and words paint a picture of that person. That’s this person’s brand. Everyone you interact with is forming an impression of you that could change how they interact with you in the future.
So in terms of your business, there is a huge of opportunity to project a memorable and unique version of your business, even if it’s something you aspire to rather than something you are. And ideally, again, there is an opportunity to craft a brand your customers can relate to (it’s no surprise that any branding process starts with your customers).
If you don’t think you have a brand, there’s a good chance that your brand is not the best it could be in terms of consistency and impact.
Who needs branding?
Branding happens every time a customer interacts with your business, whether you know it or not. If you haven’t got a well–defined brand, the way you present yourself might not be very consistent, and people might be getting mixed messages about your business.
Now that we know a little about what branding is and how it works, take a look at these questions for yourself:
- Do you know what people think about your business?
- Does your business have a personality?
- If your business had a voice, what would it sound like?
- Do your website, printed material and other touchpoints look the same?
- Do you have a mission, and have you told your market what it is?
If you struggled with one or two of those, you probably need to put a little effort on your branding.
Who doesn’t need branding?
But there are some businesses who really don’t need branding. You might be in this category. These fall into two types:
The first is a very small business where the brand reflects the strong personality of the founder.
For example, a fellow named Quentin makes coffee up in Paddington, serving throngs of customers all on his own. He’s often scrambling to keep up, but always makes a great cup and asks about your life as much as he can between taking orders. I’ve been there often, but I couldn’t really tell you the name of his business, because to me it’s all about Quentin.
The second would be any business, but usually a larger one, that has developed a brand and consistently applies it whenever they interact with customers, and ideally, always. The reason these are usually larger businesses is it takes a switched-on marketing department to create a good, lasting brand. Otherwise, it takes enough of a marketing budget to engage branding professionals.