In business, your company lives and dies by its branding. Having a brand which people know and trust is often the difference between turning a profit or being forced to close your doors forever. That is why finding ways to promote and protect your company's brand is essential for every business owner. Unfortunately, the importance of a business' brand is often overlooked by the new entrepreneur.
This short guide will walk you through four aspects of branding you need to know to run a successful business.
What You Need to Know About Branding
As the time consumers spend surfing the internet or using social media goes up, so does the number of ads they are exposed to daily. The typical American see between 4,000 and 10,000 ads each day. That is more ads than at any other time in history, and it's far more than anyone can give their full attention to viewing. With so many ads competing for the extremely limited attention of consumers, any company marketing a new business has an incredibly challenging battle ahead of it.
This why brand awareness is such a critical aspect of a company's marketing plan. A good working definition of brand awareness is how readily a target customer can identify a company's brand, and associate it with the product or services you offer. Companies which do the best with brand awareness not only focus on customers knowing who they are and what they sell, but also on imparting an emotional connection to whatever they are selling.
What do you think about when you see, 'The Golden Arches' or the Nike 'Swoosh'? Hamburgers and sneakers, right? But you may also associate these brands with your childhood or your favorite sport. That is because McDonald's and Nike has worked hard at creating effective brand awareness. In a world which is inundated with advertisements, you don't have to think twice when you see these logos or hear the names of these brands.
Brand awareness is vital in getting the public to know your brand, but building trust is necessary for consumers to buy what you are selling. Companies can help to build trust between themselves and their customers by developing brand consistency.
Brand consistency allows a customer to know what to expect from a brand before making a purchase. The three main areas where every company needs to maintain consistency is the customer service experience, the company values, and the elements of the brand identity such as logo, store design, and advertising tone. Besides helping to build trust among customers, brand consistency contributes to a company story and culture which differentiates your brand from your competitors'.
Have you worked hard shaping your brand's awareness with consistently stellar customer experience, rock-solid values, and a persistent identity, and you now want to expand your brand? Be careful. Many companies discovered too late that brand extension is far from a done deal, and it is never as easy as it sounds.
Brand extension occurs when a company attempts to use an established brand to open up a new category of products or services piggybacking off the success of an established brand. Sometimes brand extension is a success, such as when Disney took advantage of its brand to expand into the clothing category with the Disney Baby Store. Other times, even the most household brand name can fall flat—like when Zippo introduced Zippo Perfume (sold in a bottle shaped like the company's iconic lighter).
Poorly-planned brand extensions can easily lead to brand dilution, which is the overuse of a brand to the point where any goodwill generated through marketing is squandered. In the most extreme cases of brand dilution, the only solution is to start over and rebrand—and nobody wants to do that.
Through proper brand management, you can help your business thrive.