Branding is a very conceptual term. It can be hard to get your head around if you’re new to it. It holds almost mystical power.
My definition of branding is
“To emotionally connect, to prospects and customers, through meaningful storytelling.”
Branding helps shape customer’s BELIEFS.
It helps shape how customers think about you, and the meaning your brand holds for them. It can determine what they think you stand for and what they think your values are.
Branding will assist customers to feel they know like and trust you, and subsequently encourage them to want to support and buy from you.
Think about why you buy the brands you buy.
What car do you drive?
What footwear do you wear?
What make of TV do you watch?
What coffee do you drink?
What washing powder do you wash your clothes with?
Where do you shop for groceries?
Which pub, cinema, restaurant do you frequent?
What search engine do you use?
Where do you spend most of your social media time?
What make of lipstick, if any, do you buy?
The brand you used is heavily influenced by the story that brand uses to emotionally connect with you, and the story you subsequently carry around with you.
If a brand doesn’t have a story to share, then it becomes a commodity. Whether you buy it, or from it, depends on price, convenience, impulse, or just pure luck and circumstance. Prospects and customers probably won’t give your brand a second thought. They probably won’t remember you very well when you’re not around.
Customers may enjoy many aspects of your value proposition. Your great service, pleasant-natured sales assistant, great value for money. They may appreciate the fact you provide a great solution for their problem. They may remember your warm smile, witty banter, your comfortable chairs, your attention to detail, or whatever you do to make them feel good and valued.
What branding does is pull everything together into a coherent story. This makes remembering and identifying your brand easier, particularly when they are ready to buy again. This might be the difference between them coming back to you rather than going somewhere else.
Branding requires you to provide value through your sales proposition. You’re required to have a product or service that addresses your customer’s needs. Without this, no amount of branding is going to help you, over the long term.
You must show up regularly through advertising or content creation.
Try to add value between sales by building the perception of expertise. You can do this by providing tutorials or tricks and tips which relate to your offering. Try to build a relationship with prospects and customers alike, so they get to know like and trust you.
Congruency is vital. Everything you do should support the story you want to communicate to your market.
Consider how you look, via your website, social media channels, advertisements, signage, brochures, mail shots, vehicles, and in-store.
What you do is also vitally important. The extra value you add through your solution. Your customer service, even how you market your brand matters. Make sure all your activities and communications are driven by beliefs and values that are also important to your customer base.
Everything you do needs to fit together, to make sense, and support the story you’re telling.
Your brand should be distinctive, so you’re noticeable, and clearly identifiable from the competition.
Make a good first “impression”. You only get one chance, so make it count.
Maintain an excellent reputation. Trust takes time to build up and seconds to destroy.
Be a good tribe leader by taking a stand. Make sure you stand for something, don’t cop out by sitting on the fence. Focus on your customers and only them. It’s okay to say “we’re not for you” to everyone else.
Ultimately, help your customers tell their story by allowing them to piggy-back on your brand story. Help them identify with your brand, and bring it into their sense of self.
Branding is about creating a little bit of magic through story. It’s about inspiring them to imagine the possibilities of fulfilling their potential through your brand.