One of the most common mistakes most small businesses make is undermining the importance of branding. One of the reasons for this could be their inability to realize the impact that a brand has on the marketability of its products/services. Here is a look at why branding is relevant, even for small businesses…
Branding Means Getting “Your” Identity
The act of associating a product or service with a brand has become an indispensible part of marketing efforts. The most successful products anywhere in the world have some kind of brand identity, be it designer clothes, jewelry, cosmetics or even something as simple as table salt.
You don’t have to be a national/global player to create an enduring brand. Your own town/city has its very own local brands in just about everything so what are you waiting for? Get your own “identity” and stand out in the “crowd”.
Branding is Applied Psychology
All purchase decisions are the result of conscious/impulsive behavior. Every marketer aims at creating a customer base which is loyal to his product/service. Brand loyalty is the result of repeated purchases by customers driven by continuous satisfaction.
In the marketing context branding is the process of essentially burning your company or web site name or slogan into the minds of potential customers. It may be described as the subconscious process by which a business employs marketing strategies to get people to easily remember their products and services over a competitors’ … essentially, it is applied psychology.
For instance a destination holiday like the one offered by Artescape is unique as an endeavor that makes chilling out in Goa a learn by doing experience where guests can try their hand at painting and pottery with all the trimmings of a holiday resort… .the result? A vacation with an artistic twist! Now wouldn’t that appeal to people who are looking for a “different” holiday experience?
A Brand is an Experience
Some marketers distinguish the psychological aspect of a brand from the experiential aspect. The experiential aspect consists of the sum of all points of contact with the brand and is known as “brand experience”. The psychological aspect, sometimes known as the “brand image”, is a symbolic construct created in the minds of people consisting of all the information and expectations that they associate with the product or service.
Picture this… sipping on a cup of coffee at your favorite cafe is about… the coffee (that cuppa like no other could be the brand image), the ambience, the bonhomie, the friendly service, the decor and simply enjoying it all… this is the brand experience.
For a Small Business… The Owner is the Brand
A brand may signify different things to different people. It may be a trademark, a slogan, a logo, a symbol, a packaging design, company staff demeanor and dress code or a feeling that can only be experienced by using a certain product or service. Alternatively a brand may signify any one or many of these things to an individual.
Brand names are the first point of call between a company and its customers, and for this reason wield a remarkable amount of power. For example a lady I know frequents this really small salon for her haircuts and beauty treatments. It’s quite an unpretentious place but she says she goes there because the lady who owns the place is such a warm, friendly person that the beauty treatment apart spending time with her makes customers feel rejuvenated. Lesson learned? In most cases for a small business, the owner is the “brand”.
Marketing is a Jigsaw Puzzle
It’s true… and the puzzle doesn’t quite fit without branding. Branding is all about distinguishing oneself from the competition. It is about creating tangible and intangible characteristics that make one’s offer unique. It is about developing a name and an image that can provide quality and satisfaction, while taking into account individual lifestyles and beliefs. Whether you are building an image by using cardboard displays, a flashy stand out logo, or the latest social media craze, it is up to you as an owner to build a better brand and keep up with the latest branding ideas.
Good business branding is about delivering what you promised (may be more but never less) when you promised. Come to think of it that is why most of us go to a certain store/service provider for years together because they are reliable/responsive/deliver quality… that is the essence of a brand. So a brand is doing what you say/standing for something.
In my upcoming posts through February, I take a look at some small business brands and use them to explain the process of creating indelible brands to small business owners. But coming up next… small business ideas that can turn the entrepreneur in to a “brand”!