What can branding do for you?
The core principle of branding is pretty simple: people want to buy from people they like. And you need to consider your brand like a person.
Building a strong brand is a great way to increase revenue. Strong brands retain customer loyalty and help to convey your company’s messaging and values when you aren’t around. Consumers gravitate toward brands they trust, especially on mid range and high end products. So not only can developing a strong brand improve your sales, but it can also act as a barrier to entry for other potential competitors.
For the purposes of this article, assume that the use of the word product also applies to services.
What does it mean to build a strong brand?
First and foremost, a strong brand is a consistent brand. Consistency is the key to making consumers subconsciously recognize your brand and what to expect from you. Inconsistent messaging, graphic design, product design, and user experience can all lead to a breakdown in this recognition and actually repel customers. Consider using a brand style guide to help document and communicate your brand throughout your company.
In addition to consistency, strong brands are culturally relevant. They have clearly defined user and customer groups and are able to resonate with them specifically.
Last, a strong brand is industry appropriate. The logo, graphic design, visual language, and user experience should all align with best practices and expectations within your industry. If not, you’ll need to consider how disrupting this industry will affect your business strategy and how you will help educate consumers on your product.
When to build a brand and when not to
Many new entrepreneurs view investing in product and company branding as a waste of money. They think “the product just needs to work and then people will buy it”. Unfortunately this is only true in very few situations:
- If you’re developing a patent or a technology (not a product) for licensing
- If you’re developing a product for a captive customer and don’t need to market to additional audiences
- If you’re developing a product for internal use within your own company
It’s significantly more likely that you’ll fall into one of these categories that definitely need a strong brand:
- You need to sell product to mass markets
- You want customers to advocate for your product (free marketing)
- There are or will be competing products or solutions