Branding is an often misunderstood aspect of owning and operating a business. The word branding probably brings to mind logos, fonts, and color choices, but in reality it encompasses so much more. Branding is the way you present your business to the world and can also play a part in how you structure your content, the style of your writing, and even what is and isn’t okay to be posted on social media. Everything about your brand helps people to recognise your business, remember your name, and also helps to set expectations.
Imagine you are at an industry conference. You meet three people, and all of them have brown hair and glasses. They each introduce themselves with a strong handshake and tell you their name. One is wearing a blue suit with a white shirt and no tie. The next one is wearing a well-fitted charcoal gray suit with a white shirt and a lighter gray tie. The last one is wearing nice jeans, a black tee shirt, and a red blazer. One week later, they each email you to follow up with your brief conversation. Which one are you most likely to remember? Which one are you going to assume is successful? Which one comes across as someone you want to work with?
The answers to those questions aren’t entirely objective, but you can see what I am getting at. In a sea of blue and grey suits, a red blazer with a tee shirt and jeans stands out, but it also lets you know that this person doesn’t play by the same rules as everyone else. Conversely, while a well fitted suit gives an air of wealth and success, it also gets lost in the crowd. Those conference attendees were, in essence, branding themselves. They were conveying to you a message of who they were and hoping you would remember that message in a week and want to work together.
A brand for a company is what helps to cut through the noise and get the attention of potential customers. It is what helps you to stand out in a crowd and stick in someone’s memory. A good brand can make a boring product seem essential, and a bad brand can make the most amazing product seem boring and unnecessary. Think of your favorite brands. How many of them excite you even though the products themselves aren’t that interesting? For example, take Slack. Slack is a messaging service used by a lot of businesses. While it does have a lot of integrations and addons, it is little more than an organized chat service. What really sets it apart from a lot of its competitors is its brand.
Slack communicates with its users in fun ways. Everything from its release notes to the automated responses makes Slack become more than an app on your machine. It turns it into an essential member of a team that helps everyone at the company stay in touch. While it functions in a way that backs up what its brand promises, when you look at their website or the app description, this playfulness comes across. They make you believe they want to make this one part of your day a little brighter.
That is the power and importance of branding. It is how you emotionally connect with your customers before you ever meet them. It is how you prime their brains for what working with you will be like. It is how you stand out and above the competition.
Branding is also one of the things new businesses often find themselves getting tripped up on. They delay marketing efforts because their logo isn’t perfect, or they don’t get their website up because they can’t agree on a color pallet. While branding is very important, it is also changeable and organic. Take time to put together a good first showing, but also know that if your branding isn’t exactly what it needs to be, that’s okay. Your brand is going to evolve over time and if it is really awful out of the gate, you can always rebrand and change things up. Don’t get discouraged or hung up on the tiny details and never get started.