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. The meaning your brand holds for them. What they think you stand for. What they think your values are.
It determines if they feel they know like and trust you and whether they want to support you, by buying 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?
So you see, which brand you use is heavily influenced by the story the 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’s a commodity and whether you buy it, or from it, comes down to 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.
They may enjoy some aspect of your value proposition. Your great service, your pleasant-natured sales assistant, your great value for money, a great solution to their problem. They may remember your warm smile, your witty banter, they may have liked your comfortable chairs, they may appreciate your attention to detail, or whatever you do to make them feel good and valued.
But what branding does is pull everything together into a coherent story, which makes remembering and identifying your brand easier, particularly when they are ready to buy again rather than going somewhere else.
Branding requires you to provide value through your value proposition. You are 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, through things like tutorials and tricks and tips. 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.
Consider how you look, via your website, social media channels, advertisements, signage, brochures, mail shots, vehicles, and in-store.
Also, what you do is vitally important. The extra value you add through your solution. Your customer service, even how you market your brand matters. All should be driven by beliefs and values that are important to your customer base.
And all this needs to fit together, to make sense, and support the story you’re telling.
Your brand should be distinctive, so that you’re noticeable, and clearly identifiable from the competition.
Make a good first “impression”. You only get one chance, so make it count.
Manage a “good 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 story. Help them identify with your brand, 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.