A while back, Bidsketch published a guide post on how to create branding proposals.
It highlighted areas where you may be going wrong while drafting a proposal, and it also featured how you should vastly expand upon the language of your proposal, especially since branding in of itself is an intangible asset.
But you might still have questions about the concept of branding. You might have heard of it, especially if you follow marketing and entrepreneurship news. At the same time, you might feel fuzzy about this concept because again, branding is intangible, and by nature, hard to nail down.
That’s why I’ve decided to tackle the topic of branding from all angles. We’ll take a look at what it is, and most importantly, you’ll learn how understanding branding will allow your marketing to have a positive or a negative impact on your revenue generation strategies.
Let’s start by understanding this word called branding.
What The Heck Is A Brand?
Upon looking up the definition of the word brand, one of the definitions you’ll find is related to the mark that’s burnished on cattle. Certainly, this isn’t the type of branding that business people discuss, at least, not directly.
But much like the type of branding that a cattleman performs, a business brand identifies and differentiates one’s property from another. More than this, a brand immediately lets others know what the property stands for, what it’s about, and how they should perceive the branded entity.
So in general, when it comes to the type of branding that relates to business, it could easily be said that branding is a concept that attempts to create an identity for your business.
More than this, the identity helps consumers to create a perception about your business, and hopefully, their perception about your business will be positive, allowing you to generate revenue and brand loyalty over the life of your business.
To simplify things, a company’s brand is their reputation. It’s an attempt at summarizing all of the values and attributes that the company stands for it and hopes to promote. It’s what set a company apart from other competitors in the same industry.
And if a business’s model is highly niched or is disruptive, then its brand will often generate the type of rabid fan base that keeps its ledger in the black for years to come.
What About Your Small Business?
Branding makes sense for a large corporation, and indeed, there are entities that have created brands that are of greater financial value than the tangible assets of the company!
Think about your Coca Colas, Mc Donald’s, the big-box retailers, the luxury vehicle manufacturer (or even, the mid-grade, reliable vehicle manufacturer), and you have an idea of how brands benefit these type of companies.
These are companies that will exist for generations to come as long as the brand continues to be nurtured and promoted. But does the concept of branding matter of you, the small business owner?
After all, you’re not in the current position of world domination. You might only employ 15 (or less) employees, or you might be a lone freelancer who’s still trying to figure out how to attract a nice stable of clients.
Do you really need to be concerned about a big fish strategy like branding?
The answer is “Yes!” and here’s a couple of reasons why:
1. Although branding is used as a marketing strategy for large-scale consumer industries, it’s also useful for small B2Bs.
For starters, a branding strategy will allow you to get on your prospect’s radar. You already know that you’ll need to do a lot more than send a feeble email to your prospect! You’ll need to present them with your value proposition.
Conceptualizing a brand for your business allows you to do just that.
2. Branding answers your prospects questions and develops trust.
Speaking to my last point, what differentiates your services from another service provider?
What makes your product noteworthy and purchase-worthy? Why should anyone give you another chance past the first time? Is your prospect going to realize a return on their investment after spending money on your offering?
All of these questions and concerns can either be eliminated (or alleviated) when you establish a brand for your business. You’ll find that your brand serves as your true north, a guidepost that allows you to present your offerings with confidence, instead of tripping over your words when your prospect inevitably comes to you with questions about your offerings, and your intentions.
Just How Valuable Is Your Brand?
While branding is essentially an intangible asset, it generates plenty of tangible results for a company. Brand Taxi wrote a report that reveals how the concept of branding converts into hard, valuable assets for a company:
Brand value measures the economic asset value of a company or product brand. It details how much of the company’s operating income and free cash flow is derived from the brand, the influence of the brand within each consumer purchase decision driver, and the associated brand risks.
By linking the brand to the economics of the business at a detailed level, brand value opens the door to a number of useful applications. Brand Valuation can answer questions and help business leaders move a franchise forward.
Some typical questions include: How can I prove that branding offers real value to the CEO, CFO, and the Board, (and) how can I justify a proposed marketing budget?
But if you’re still trying to understand how this fits into your small business model (especially if you’re a freelancer), then check out what Deluxe has to say about the value of your brand identity:
Branding builds financial value…Companies who publicly trade on a stock exchange are valued at many times the actual hard assets of the company. Much of this value is due to the branding of the company.
A strong brand usually guarantees future business…being perceived as more valuable will make the process advantageous for the owner of the company. The greater a company’s devotion to build its brand value, the better the financial return from its efforts.
Branding generates new customers…Branding enables your company to get referral business. Would it be possible for you to tell a friend about the new shoes you love if you couldn’t remember the brand?
The most profitable companies, small and large, have a single thing in common. They have established themselves as a leader in their particular industry by building a strong brand.
Maintaining Brand Consistency
After you’ve created your brand, it’s crucial to promote your company in alignment with the brand you’ve promoted. Otherwise, you’ll crucify all of your hard work, as the Deluxe blog explains:
Occasionally, we might experience contradictions between what we perceive about a brand on TV or through social media and what we experience in our day-to-day interactions with them. This dissonance forces us to ask, “Is this brand really what I thought it was?”
The same is true for your company. If elements of your brand are inconsistent across your online presence and physical presence, your customers will get confused, or worse, distrustful.
And since all businesses set out to make their customers happy (which in turn produces revenue) – there is no room for confusion.
You don’t want your prospects to experience confusion or disillusionment, and this often plays out in the press (to embarrassing results) when a company representative’s actions go rogue against what the company claimed to stand for.
In addition to maintaining brand integrity, don’t worry about being too small. In fact, the reason why more consumers are selecting smaller, highly niched B2Bs is the fact that we live in an era of relationships, and relationships are nurtured with elements such as integrity, and responsibility.
To be plain, it’s easier for small businesses to earn consumer trust because smaller businesses are perceived (Branded!) to have far less corporate layers, and therefore, far more operational transparency.
Therefore, the smaller you are, the more personable and transparent you should shape your brand. Don’t try to be something that you’re not, and don’t make promises that you can’t deliver on.
Finally, don’t use industry or corporate speak out of insecurity. Your prospects won’t be impressed because they won’t understand what you’re talking about! And if they don’t understand what you’re talking about, then they won’t trust you, and they won’t give you the sale!