What is Branding?
The term “brand” refers to a name, design, symbol, or other feature that sets a product or service apart from the rest. “Branding your business” refers to the process of fostering an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand.
Regardless of whether you own an established brick and mortar, are in the development phase of a cool new app, or just getting your startup off the ground via a crowdfunding campaign – your brand is your reputation. The importance of branding cannot be underestimated.
The Importance of Branding
In today’s marketplace, brand building isn’t simply a task that you complete in order to move on. Working through the steps of branding is a necessity. Branding promotes recognition, sets you apart from competitors, and tells customers what to expect from you. According to a 2013 Neilson survey, 59% of consumers prefer to buy new products from brands familiar to them.
Customer aside, a strong brand provides an internal compass. Brand can guide business decisions and help you stay on track when faced with uncertainty.
What is Brand Identity?
Brand identity encompasses several factors. It might start with a brand logo, but it also includes what a business actually represents and how customers feel when they think of it.
A strong brand identity will help you stand out in the marketplace by making your product or service more memorable to consumers. Over time it can also solidify your identity as a subject matter expert in your niche.
How to Create a Brand Identity
Keep in mind that brand identity is fluid and ever evolving. Therefore, it’s not something to create and forget about. You’ll want to monitor it closely and work to strengthen it as time goes on. Here are a few brand building strategies to get you started.
- Establish a mission statement. The time required to develop a strong, meaningful mission statement is time well spent. Your mission statement becomes the foundation of your brand by defining your purpose and your target audience. Everything from logos, to taglines, to voice should reflect your mission statement.
- Determine what sets your company apart. You don’t have to be the biggest, fanciest company in your niche to stand out. What do you offer that nobody else can? What do you do well that you competitors do not? Is it the authentic, transparent customer service you provide? Is it the simple, handwritten note you include with each order from your Esty shop? Figure out what sets you apart…and do that!
- Develop a brand voice. What adjectives will describe the way you communicate with your audience? Casual? Humorous? Professional? Technical? Once you decide how you would like to be perceived, brand your business by ensuring all customer-facing content utilizes your brand voice.
- Maintain consistency. Once you begin to execute your plan with brand identity in mind, you’ve got to stay consistent. Otherwise you’ll confuse your customer. This means ensuring you’re always guided by your mission statement; moreover, it includes branding design components and web design elements, such as colors, fonts, logos, etc.
After you’ve established a solid brand identity, you can begin to foster brand loyalty. And let us tell you, this is where the magic really happens!
What is Brand Loyalty?
Brand loyalty (or lack thereof) can make or break any business, since it is based on customers’ feeling of support or allegiance to the business. The best brands can (and do!) maintain a loyal customer base despite changes in the environment, increases in cost of products or services, actions of competitors, market fluctuations, etc.
Brand loyalty exists when customers feel truly connected to the brand itself. This connection can be derived from a number of factors including the quality of the product or service, trust in the business, and customer service experiences, to name a few.
An established, loyal customer base will lead to repeat customers and word or mouth referrals, which are the holy grail of business building. As you can imagine, though, brand loyalty doesn’t just develop overnight. I must be built organically, and over time.
How to Build Brand Loyalty
Now that we understand the purpose and importance of brand loyalty, let’s look at a few ways to build it!
- Identify your target audience. Who is your ideal consumer? What are their priorities? Where do they shop? How do they dress? How much money do they make? Answering these questions in advance will ensure that your marketing efforts are focused in the on the correct group of consumers.
- Examine what makes them tick. Learn what drives your target audience to make buying decisions and use this information as you create customer-facing content. Everything from customer service replies to Instagram ads should be developed with the needs of the customer in mind.
- Stay consistent. Consistency is key here, too. You’ll build the most loyal base when your customer knows what to expect from you. This includes anything from how often you post on social media, to shipping time for your products, to turnaround time for email responses.
- Provide incentives. For your customers to return, that is. Repeat business is where it’s at! Consider creating a loyalty program or use promo codes to keep customers coming back for more.
- Use Social Media Influencers. Brand loyalty is dependent upon trust. Generally, consumers already trust the influencers they choose to follow on social media. If one of those influencers believes in your brand, their followers will be much more likely to believe in you as well.
- Let your personality shine. Connection can drive brand loyalty. And nothing connects people quite a common quirk or two! Don’t be afraid to be yourself! YOU might be the very thing that generates an emotional connection between your customers and your brand.
Build a Brand that Inspires Loyalty
The best brands are built upon a strong foundation, which allows each and every branding decision to be made strategically. Whether you want to learn how to start branding your business, discuss the importance of branding, or simply want to brainstorm business branding ideas, we’re here for you!
We’d love to make your ideas a reality and help you create a brand that inspires lifelong loyalty. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can’t wait to hear from you.
contributed by Melissa Lucas, senior staff writer