By Mike Martin
“Branding” is among the most essential components of effective business strategy. However, as fundamental as it may be, many organizations neglect any real investment in the building and planning of an authentic branding approach. The lack of brand development can be attributed to a cultural norm of Do-It-Yourself business operations. It is even more perpetuated by a lack of knowledge surrounding the material effects of good branding. The unfortunate reality is that even if organizations lack an intentional brand strategy, they are still building a brand – good or bad. Brands are established in the minds of customers anytime they interact with an organization. Becoming intentional about implementing a thorough brand strategy will yield consistently positive results for any organization, regardless of size or sector.
In essence, branding is the process of crafting the experiences and images you desire for people to have when they encounter your business, product or service. As markets expand, the battle for customers intensifies and a strong brand becomes even more important to organizations. The experiences and images that set your brand apart from the competition are critical. To be most effective, this process requires intentional foresight and investment.
There are countless books on the subject of branding and a simple search engine query will lead you down a digital rabbit hole of results. Yet, with the increase in subject matter, many small and midsized organizations are unaware of the specific outcomes a quality brand strategy can produce. The positive effects of good branding can be both immediate and long-term. They can also give your organization the strength it needs to establish longevity in any market.
A few effects of good branding are:
- A clearly communicated message
Good branding goes far beyond a logo, color scheme or tagline. Good branding consistently communicates a message in every customer experience. At the very first customer engagement, it is important to ensure that what you offer and the benefit of your products or services are clearly understood. For example, if your product is an organic hand cream, it is important that your audience differentiates it in their minds from just another water-based lotion. A clearly communicated message helps them to perceive the greater benefits of your product.
- Confirmation of credibility
Credibility is one of the most important things that organizations need to establish. Your audience needs to be assured that their needs can be met by your products or services. Credibility is established by building a brand strategy that includes either customer testimonials, employee education or endorsements by industry experts. Incorporating brand credibility will lead to increased revenue, customer retention, obtaining referrals and more.
- Emotional connection to your target audience
Each customer interaction has the ability to reinforce their belief that you understand them and their needs. Incorporating traditions, practices and culture into your brand communication establishes relatability. Building a brand that customers can relate to and believe in will cause potential customers to feel as if you understand them. This emotional connection will lead to loyal customers that will become your brand ambassadors, ultimately advocating for your brand.
Greater than ever before, customers are presented with several options for any product, service or business. Making a focused effort to stand out from the competition is worth the time and investment. More importantly, good branding will get your potential customers to see your organization as the only one that can provide a solution to their specific needs. While this is a short list of benefits, the effects of a strong brand are invaluable and could have lasting rewards for any business or organization.
About Mike Martin
Mike Martin is a communicator, strategist and brand architect with over 12 years of experience. He works with national teams in the private and public sectors to build and improve their marketing and branding strategy. He leads creative workshops in the areas of brand development, communications and leadership. He is also the author of “The Ministry of Branding – A Biblical Approach to Brand Building,” available at Amazon.com. For more information visit www.meetmikemartin.com or www.theministryofbranding.com.