Create brands that hold onto your loyal customers for a lifetime
Taking the easy way out might save time and effort in the short term, but you usually have to exert wasted resources later by not attending to details on the first try.
“Choose to do the right thing, rather than the quick or easy one,” said business expert Lyndon Johnson. “They are like principles. Saying you believe in something is great, but demonstrating it via actions — even where it may not be the best short-term commercial benefit — is harder.”
He speaks from years of experience. Johnson founded the Think Differently Communications Group, which helps organizations to build, test and measure effective growth strategies.
Keeping an ear open on social media will generate leads
Taylor owns DIYMarketers, “committed to helping small business owners get out of overwhelm.” Ignjatovic is a marketing, strategy and business consultant.
“Branding process gets difficult when the team is focused only on one aspect of branding without looking at the big picture,” Ignjatovic said.
Part of the problem is not knowing where or how to start branding.
“This is a big deal,” Taylor said. “Branding can be so overwhelming. It’s hard when you aren’t sure about who you serve and how and why you serve them.”
One aspect is appearance. A Forbes survey found that color improves brand recognition by up to 80 percent. That factor is part of the overall picture of how branding affects consumer behavior.
From Promises to Value
“Branding communicates a promise and inspires an emotion,” Taylor said. “This creates a shortcut to buy and even creates a higher perceived value.”
A DIYMarketers post addresses, “Brand Communication: How to Talk About Your Business.” As Ignjatovic noted, branding is the beginning of the customer journey.
“Branding means that customers choose your company not only because of the value you deliver, but because of the values you stand for,” Johnson said.
Brands can be altered for good reason and with great care.
“I’ve only changed my brand once,” Taylor said. “I created a more emotional logo and haven’t changed since.”
Small Business Trends found that 53 percent of businesses rely on content marketing as a branding strategy. That emphasis helps Johnson resist tweaking his brand because of unintended consequences.
“If my core values change, my brand promise changes,” he said. “I’d be running a different business than the one I wanted to start when I founded the company.”
What do people think when your brand comes to mind?
From the outset, branding helps small businesses.
“Branding puts any business or person top of mind,” Taylor said. “A good brand adds profits to your bottom line.”
She backs that up with the DIY Marketers post, “The Hidden Psychology of Logo Design.”
Ignjatovic emphasized that consistent branding improves a company’s recognition.
Particularly at their startup stage, small businesses might not have money to spare to create branding.
“A great brand is all about personality and how you make your customers feel,” Taylor said. “Do that consistently enough, and you have a brand.
“You’ll get a lot of positive marketing through word of mouth,” she said. “It’s almost like your audience actually creates your brand for you by how they speak about you.”
What’s My Name?
Global Banking & Finance Review backs that up. It found that 82 percent of investors say name recognition is an important factor guiding them in their investment decisions.
“It’s very important to define the point of difference,” Ignjatovic said. “If in need of visual elements, there are many tools for a small price that can help create a logo and other essentials. Be consistent. Don’t make changes all the time.”
Especially now when everything is digital, she contends that social media can help a lot, although the business has to follow through.
“You can have everything in place, but if a product or service is not good, it will be embedded in the overall branding experience,” Ignjatovic said. “As such, that will sink the business.”
Consistently show up and deliver on your promises
Johnson distinguishes brand identity from brand appearance.
“You have to have a value set and brand promise beneath it,” he said. “Otherwise it’s just colors and fonts. A brand doesn’t cost anything to create. Maintaining it through actions and words can be challenging sometimes, but it’s an investment in doing the right thing.
“I have developed a brand toolkit involving brand development and brand communication,” Johnson said. “If anybody needs one, it’s available at no charge to small businesses.”
His core brand strategy canvases — with more tools available soon — have color-coded tools for easy identification.
Branding helps small businesses communicate with customers and prospects in several ways.
“A great brand is the shortcut to a promise,” Taylor said. “A small business with a solid brand will save money on marketing. I’ve run into so many business owners who literally do not have a story. That’s so odd.”
Telling Which is Which
DIYMarketers describes three key differences between a brand and a commodity.
“A really well defined and consistent brand establishes emotional connection with its audience and customers,” Ignjatovic said. “I read that the Coca-Cola logo is recognized by 94 percent of the world’s population, and that number might be even higher.”
Great branding gives consumers great comfort.
“It reinforces the values that the business was founded on,” Johnson said. “Small businesses are rarely founded with the sole goal of making lots of money. I live and breathe the values on which my company was founded in everything I say and do.”
If you don’t control your personal brand, others will do it for you
Passion such as that embedded in branding helps a business’ product or service stand out from competitors.
“My brand name is the key way that I stand out,” Taylor said. “People immediately get and resonate with DIYMarketers.”
It’s no surprise that Demand Metric found that consistently presented brands are 3.5 times more likely to enjoy excellent brand visibility than those with an inconsistent brand presentation.
“Brand name is what’s unique along with visual perception,” Ignjatovic said. “To make it stand out, it has to be tied to superior customer service or prices. Without additional elements, branding is just an art.”
Company owners have varied reasons for how they created their business brand.
“In 2008 when I started writing about tools and ways to do more marketing for less money, MSNBC called wanting to come and meet our team,” Taylor said. “I had to laugh. It was just me and my tools.”
Partly as a result, DIYMarketers created a simple three-step storytelling process to tell your brand story.
“I always knew my message,” Ignjatovic said. “I’m a minimalist. I wanted my brand to be simple and contrasting, but also warm. That’s why we have orange color.”
In Johnson’s case, he didn’t look far.
“The values found me,” he said. “They’re values that I hold personally. I wanted to reflect those in the business I built.”
Give people your complete picture on and off social media
The marketers are also aware of ways branding influences their own product choices.
“I’m conscious of brands, but when it comes to automation tools, it’s all about features and user interface,” Taylor said. “When you think of it, user experience is really branding.
“It didn’t used to be that way,” she said. “Millennials were the first generation to say that what a brand stands for was a primary driver of choosing what to purchase.”
Ignjatovic doesn’t readily yield to first impressions.
“I care about the quality and purpose,” she said. “I’m not going to choose a brand just because I like their advertisement. The ad can be great, but if I can’t link it to the actual product or can’t remember a brand — no matter how funny or creative it is — from a marketing perspective it’s a misfire.”
Shared values are also a pass-fail.
“I choose products from companies where their ethos and ethics align with mine,” Johnson said. “Typically, I select based on affordability — value, rather than price — equality and transparency.
“Awareness of brand as a concept has only really emerged in the past few decades,” he said. “Before that, product choices were hereditary: Children purchased from companies their parents purchased from.”
Favorite Brands Attract Loyal Fans With Their Own Special Personalities
Companies large and small can compete with great visions
Today’s small businesses have to stay true to their branding.
“Branding and business can’t be authentic unless they are specific and consistent,” Ignjatovic said. “Branding has to be tied to the business values at all times.”
It’s an obvious concept.
“The best way to stay authentic to your brand is to make sure that your brand is authentically you,” Taylor said. “That comes from your why.”
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