What do people say about you? In the workplace, at your gym, in your community? I know what they say about me: great business acumen, damn good basketball player, stunningly handsome, and endearingly humble. (Note: only some of those are true, I’ll leave it up to you to guess). This is known as my personal brand.
I always subscribed to the belief that it doesn’t matter what people say about you. It’s an important life lesson that I will teach my kids, as I have been taught over and over again. But when it comes to business, it DOES matter what people say about you.
Ever heard the saying “happy customers might tell one person, but unhappy customers tell 20”?
I read that in Mark Cuban’s book, and he goes on to say, “In the Internet age, one happy customer might make a note in their blog or forward an email. An unhappy customer starts a blog, writes about how
unhappy he is, takes out an ad on search engines to let people who are looking for the product know how mad he is, starts an email forwarding chain asking people to boycott the product, does a YouTube video about it and games YouTube to make it one of the Top 10 most-viewed videos… You get the picture.”
He hits the nail on the head: not only does it matter what people say about your business, but it matters now more than ever because social media and the internet allow people to voice their opinions to a larger audience than ever before.
This is where your business brand can either help or hurt you.
Branding, as defined by Entrepreneur.com, is “the marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products”. Branding encompasses many components: logos, designs, colors, fonts, slogans, etc., that work together to provide an identity for a business.
Think about your favorite clothes, your favorite car, even your favorite type of peanut butter; you learn what to expect from a company’s brand, and in turn, your trust (or lackthereof) drives your purchasing decision. I don’t care if you are a small business, a Fortune 500 corporation, a landscaping company or a technology conglomerate; EVERYONE needs a brand, and I’m here to give you 8 reasons why.
Branding creates trust.
As I stated earlier, your brand contains many components that work together to give your business an identity. If you have a nice logo, functional website, and nice business cards, that goes a long way in the consumer’s eyes in making you a legitimate business that they can trust to provide great service. Your business could be brand new, working out of your garage, but if you have a strong online presence with a brand that’s hard to ignore, consumers will buy from you. You’d be surprised as to how many business have a cluttered logo, or a messy website, and in 2016 sloppy mistakes such as these can cost you immensely. Invest the time to have a unified brand across all marketing and online platforms, and over time, your brand will bring you more and more customers.
Branding allows for greater recognition.
This is sort of the “DUH!” moment of this blog post; of course it makes you more recognizable! That said, there is an absurd amount of businesses who shoot themselves in the foot because they don’t create a recognizable brand. Customers want to take the path of least resistance; if they can’t find you when searching for their desired product/service, they just won’t buy. In 2016, when the internet has made it so that you are no longer competing locally but globally, there are many, many businesses with the same name. You have to differentiate yourself with a consistent brand across all platforms of business so that as soon as your customer sees you, they recognize you and buy from you. When you think of Amazon, chances are you don’t think of a jungle. When you think Uber, or Facebook, or Nike, you see their logos and images in your head. Many small- and mid-size businesses overlook the importance of a great name, so if you can make this a focus, you will increase consumer recognition and take a competitive advantage over your competitors.
Good branding increases the amount of repeat customers.
The easiest way to grow your business is by selling to people who are already customers. This decreases your need to market to a cold audience, saving you time and money on advertising. Up to 15% of a business’s most loyal customers account for 55-70% of its total sales, according to research done at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Here’s another statistic from Bain & Company: Returning customers typically spend 67% more than first time customers. When people see your logo, color scheme, recognizable name, etc., they know what to expect. If you offer a subpar product or service, that may not be a good thing, but your prospects are under the assumption that if they purchase from your business 10 times, they can expect the same customer service, the same product quality, the same help every single time. If you are confident in your business, you want to be sure to have a strong, unified brand so that once someone buys from you and is satisfied, it’s easy for them to find your business, recognize your brand, and buy from you again.
A strong brand gives you an edge over your competitors
. Your brand is your welcome mat for your business. A strong brand won’t gain you customers without a good product/service behind it, but it can turn away customers if it is unappealing (or nonexistent). Assume you and two of your competitors are competitively identical: same pricing, same great service, etc. Which business wins the customer? The business with the strongest brand will win out almost every time. Why? Because it is more trustworthy, and as some would say, it looks like it has it’s sh** together. It is recognizable, making buying easy for the customer, and also makes it easier for the consumer to develop an emotional attachment to the brand name, logo, etc.
Good branding helps to attract and retain talented employees.
I remember first coming out of undergrad, chatting with my friends about the careers that we landed upon graduation. Most of my friends ended up with great jobs, making more money than me at companies with greater upward mobility. BUT they thought I was the one with the best job, simply because I worked for a Fortune 300 company with a strong, globally recognizable brand, while they worked for small, regionally recognizable businesses. My company received way more applications per month than their companies did per year, and everywhere I went, people applauded me when they found out who I worked for. This is the importance of a recognizable brand: people wanted to work for my company even though I made less money than them, and in spite of the fact that they didn’t even know what my company did. A strong brand increases trust and can bring a sense of prestige in the long run, making it a go-to place for new applicants. Your business is only as strong as the people who run it, so if for no other reason, create a strong brand to attract good employees.
Branding makes you ‘Easily Shareable’.
‘Easily Shareable’ is a term I just made up (I do what I want), and it touches upon credibility. In this day and age, when everyone is on social media, voicing their opinions, sharing posts and videos and articles, it is important to create content worth sharing. If you have a solid brand and create good content online, you will amass a following because your brand will become synonymous with helpful content and people will follow you and share your posts. These “followers” then become loyal to your brand, and they will become customers themselves.
It allows you to sell new products/services as well as upsell.
As with anything in life, businesses need to evolve if they want to grow. If you have a great brand, then your current customers are more likely to try out any new products or services you roll out. Let’s say you are an Accounting firm specializing in bookkeeping services; if your customers trust your brand and your business, they’ll be the first ones in line when you start to offer payroll services or tax consulting work. If you’re a company that makes t-shirts, same thing applies to you: your customers that love your t-shirts will jump at the chance to buy the new shoe line you just put out. It doesn’t matter what business you are in; as stated earlier, the easiest way to sell your product/service is to go through your existing client base. Any new offerings from your business will already have an audience: your current customers.
Your brand increases your marketing ROI.
Last but certainly not least, your brand increases your marketing ROI. Think about how hard you worked to get your name out there and to get clients when you first started your business. I know how hard I worked, and the beginning was definitely the hardest part. But once you get one client, then two, then three, you start to see the ball get rolling. Having a strong brand increases the likelihood of referrals from current clients, lessening the burden of marketing. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll hear me say time and time again, “ABC”, as in, “Always Be Closing”. You’ll never need to stop marketing and trying to grow your business. But imagine, while you are working on search engine optimization, or print advertisements, or networking groups, your current customers are buying your product AND referring their friends and family to you as well. Your customers become your salespeople, and you get twice the bang for your buck.
So there you have it: 8 reasons you MUST create a recognizable brand for your business. That said, creating a brand isn’t easy; there’s more to it than just creating a logo. There’s a science to the way certain colors make your customers feel, or how fonts can affect the way someone views your business. Be sure to do your research, and when in doubt, hire a professional. Your brand is the identity of your business, so be sure to invest the necessary resources to ensure your business is appealing, recognizable, and unified across all platforms; you won’t be sorry.