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Listen to Branding Foundations
Branding is a marketing term that describes the practice of developing a name, symbol or design to represent a product or business. There are many technical facets of “branding” but it all boils down to one question: what do customers think and feel about your company?
What do customers think and feel about your company?
When a customer sees your logo, browses your website, or visits your storefront they are interacting with your “brand.” Every interaction a customer has with your brand shapes their perceived quality and value of your business. The consequences are simple, customers buy and connect to brands they perceive to be of high quality or value. Brands with unfavorable perceptions don’t last long. If you want to succeed in the long-term, then it’s time to learn what makes a good brand.
Consistency is Key
Strong brands follow the number one branding rule: be consistent. Consistency develops a unified message that is easy to remember and clear to understand. Consider memorizing a set of numbers. To memorize the numbers you will repeat the same sequence in your mind consistently. But what would happen if you switched the order of numbers every time you rehearsed it? Well, you will probably get confused, frustrated, and ultimately give up. This is how customers feel towards brands that are inconsistent in their design, message, and delivery.
If you want to build a brand your customers remember, then make it easy for them. Use the same graphics, design, logo, colors, and tagline consistently and repeatedly.
How do you measure the worth of a brand? The answer: intrinsic value. Intrinsic value is the worth of a business based on tangible and intangible factors. When it comes to branding, the main goal is to build intrinsic value.
How much is Starbucks worth? In tangible terms, you can add up all their assets and calculate a numerical value. But there is something even more valuable than the sum of the tangible assets: the Starbucks brand name. The emotion, trust, and loyalty that the Starbucks brand evokes in billions of customers worldwide is not tangible but is extremely valuable. Based on the logo alone, customers are willing to pay double for a Starbucks cup of coffee versus an equally good cup of coffee from a similar competitor.
This is branding genius!
If Starbucks isn’t your personal cup of joe, chances are there are other brands that you pledge your loyalty to. Maybe it’s Nike tennis shoes, an Apple iPhone, or Whole Foods Market grocery store. As a small business owner, you don’t need a following as large as Starbucks or Apple to be successful. Your ultimate goal is to grow a strong loyal customer base willing to buy your products and services over similar competitors. Your goal is to build intrinsic value.
Successful brands understand the value of a strategic story. We become a loyal brand follower when we believe and connect to a story. Toms Shoes is a great example. This company grew in popularity because customers connected with their mission to help poverty-stricken communities. Toms’ tagline is “The One for One® Company.” When you purchase a pair of shoes they promise to donate a pair of shoes to a person in need. Toms strategically communicates a brand story of hope and charity that evokes an emotional connection with its customers. The Toms Shoe story doesn’t connect with everyone, but for its target customer, it is the only reason needed to buy their shoes over and over again.
As a small business owner, you can communicate a strategic story too. For the story to be effective it has to be relevant and relatable to your ideal customer. If you can understand what your customer value and desire, then you can strategically communicate a story that appeals to this group.
The last element of a strong brand is a solid design that transcends the latest trends. If you look at the Coca-Cola logo, not much has changed in 40 years. Why? Because Coca-Cola founded their logo and brand design on originality and solid design principles that withstood time. With a logo and brand concept founded on proven design principles, the business is able to save time and money in the long-run.
When fads go out of style, you want a logo and brand that can transcend a trend and last many years to come. The consistency you are able to maintain will strengthen your brand’s value. Of course, if you suspect that your logo is outdated and your brand has lost relevancy with customers, then it’s time for a change. Don’t hold on to an outdated design concept out of fear of change or hope that bellbottoms will come back in style. When appropriate, consider rebranding to ultimately increase your brand’s value.