What is Branding and Why is it important for your business success?

What is Branding and Why is it important for your business success?

Brand is about meaning. It is what your customers and audiences carry about you in their heads and hearts. It is what they feel, think, hear, imagine, and expect from you. Your brand is about your business values. It is what makes you stand out among your competitors. It is the context and story of your business and what you do. Your brand is not about the design, colors, and logo of your business. Most people think of these when they think about their brand. When thinking of your brand you need to see what you want to be remembered for. How you want your audiences to think about you, your services, or products.

One of the great examples of an outstanding brand is Nike. People usually associate Nike with these meanings: achievements, sport, design/technology, fashion, quality, expensive, high-profile sponsorship figures,…

When designing your brand you need to go through the meanings you want to associate with your business. That usually comes from your values, story behind your business, the purpose of what you are doing. Once you have these meanings set, you and all your employees should commit to these values and do the job on a daily basis accordingly.

According to Denise Lee Yohn, brand building consultant and author of “What Great Brands Do” there are 7 principles that great brands follow. You can build a powerful brand following these same 7 principles:

1) Great brands start inside

Develop greatness among your employees. Make sure your employees know about the meanings and values of your brand. You need to train them on how they can best perform to deliver greatness to the customers.

For a quick fix, analyse your business and find the gaps between what the values are being said and what is actually being performed.

Culture is the first step when you are going to define your brand. All employees should focus on making the great, unique customer experiences based on the values of the business.

2) Great brands avoid selling products.

Make emotional connection with your consumers. Ads should be about customers. Nike’s Just Do It ad is a great example. This ad is not about Nike’s products superiority. It is all about their customers. It is about consumer achievements.

As Yohn says:” People make product decisions based on how that product make them feel. And product features are secondary that only serve the support to that emotional connection”.

3) Great brands sweat the small stuff

Every communication matters. Pay attention to every single detail. Every communication and interaction with your customers should follow your values and brands’ meanings. Customer experience has a great impact on your business success.

4) Great brands never have to give back

Yohan says “Great brands have no need to “give back” to society in the form of charitable contributions because they employ a more integrated approach, as they do in all aspects of their business”.

These brands create shared values for their employees, customers, investors and communities and they use the power of their brands to inspire change to have a beneficial impact on the society.

5) Great brands commit and stay committed

To build a strong brand commit to the core of your brand. There will be temptations and pressures to make changes to your  brand especially by competitors priorities, organizational politics, reaching your top-line revenue goals. But bringing your focus to the core of your brand and staying committed is a good way to stay away from those temptations.

One example is Shake Shack’s restaurant. The CEO is willing to sacrifice short-term profit to maintain brand integrity. “We get asked to cater all the time, but we fight it” says Garutti CEO of Shake Shack. “We want you to come to Shake Shack. We had even bought the vehicle but I wasn’t convinced the product would be as good and so we scrapped the idea and ate the investment’.

6) Great brands don’t chase customers

Great brands don’t chase customers. They attract their ideal customers by staying true to what they stand for.

Brands with confidence and integrity attract loyal and high quality customers.

Lululemon CEO says in response to the fact that their products are priced a good deal higher than their competitors that “ If you want the cheapest product out there, there are plenty of places where you can find what you’re looking for. But you’d be hard-pressed to find the level of quality and innovation in fabrics and finishes that we offer. And there’s a cost with doing that, so that’s why our prices are what they are. We don’t try to appeal to everybody.”

7) Great brands ignore trends

Trends are trends. They come and go. It might be tempting for a short-term attraction to go with trends. But they change quickly and by following trends you would put your brand identity at risk. “If you are out to build a brand, you have to know what is real and right for you” Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue.


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How to Define your Brand

It is very important to define your brand early when starting your business. Put your message out there and see how you want to channel your message to your audience. Tell people why you do what you do. If we go back to the fitness coach example, instead of saying “you help moms get fit after pregnancy”, you can say, “you give confidence back to new moms  by giving them a strong and fit body through fitness and healthy nutrition”. This kind of messages that emphasis on “Why” rather than “What” communicates better with your audience and gives them a reason that why they should come to you. Depending on your work you can go deeper in your “Whys” make them as unique as possible to make a better connection. If you have a personal story that you can attach to your brand and the reason you are starting your business, fuel your brand with your story. Stories are boosters and make great connection with people.

Your brand is your core business principle.When defining your brand make sure you are addressing these three essentials about your business: What is it that makes you or your business unique? How does it connect with your audience? And what is your message that you want to deliver to your audience? Your message should be consistent. One of the goals of an integrated marketing is to show your message to your audience using all the available channels. So make your message unique, easy to understand, and memorable.

So in short your brand should be “Distinct, Relevant, and Consistent”

Audience – How to identify your audience

Your business and goals already identify your audience. Depending on what you do and what your goals are you can find your niche market and see which audience will help you reach your goals. Who understands your business and connects with your story? Who gives value to what you do and sees value in what you are offering? Your business should not appeal to everyone. It should appeal only to your audience. The more appealing your business is to your consumer, and the more value they see in what you are offering, the more you can move on to reach your business goals.

You can define your audience based on their interest, demographics, gender, location, history and back stories, level of income, level of education, psychology, their decision making habits, and so on…

Defining tactics and coming up with solutions in order to attract your audience highly relies on your brand, and on identifying your audience. So if you have not specified your brand and audience I highly recommend doing that before planning your tactics. Because you can’t plan your strategy if you don’t know who you want to attract and what you want to tell them. Once you know your audience and know your message then planning a strategy to deliver them the message becomes very easy.

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Emotional brand building

“We humans are emotional creatures. We make our purchase decisions based on how products promise to make us feel.” That’s why great brands always try to make emotional connection with their consumers. This has to come even before showing off the features of the products or services.

Basically brands have to answer the “why” question. Why people have to buy my product? Why should it be important to them? And the answer should always be emotionally connected to what the consumer feels.

A great example is Nike’s “Just do it” campaign. It is one great example that shows how emotional connection triumphs over selling products. Through this campaign Nike didn’t talk about it’s products and runnig shoes. It allowed the athletes to talk about their achievements and rewards through their own emotional words without ever mentioning Nike. People could instantly connect with the campaign. They were so inspired by the stories that were sending Nike notes on how this campaign has changed their life’s bad habits. People get “Just Do It” tattoos! Through this campaign Nike could show that the brand is not about selling products. It is about celebrating customers, changing lives, and inspiring people to be at their best.

Another great example of this is Volvo’s ad. The story in the ad is strong and makes the right emotional connection with their audience. The ad is about  Volvo’s safety feature. Throughout the ad you follow story of a girl with a future she is picturing and telling her mom. At the end Volvo’s safety feature is the only reason she survives from a car crash. As a viewer you picture Volvo as a car that gives you your dream future by saving lives.

Stories and storytelling is a great way for brands to make emotional connection with their audience. Emotional connections make long term relationship with consumers and connections that last.

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