So you’ve got a stellar product. Or you’ve developed the hottest new app and you’ve got amazing customer service. And all you want to do is focus on those things.
You may think branding isn’t something for you. Right now you’re more concerned about the product and service you’re providing. You believe you can hold off on that ‘big corporate term’ until you “make it”; then you’ll have a reason to invest in building a brand and an identity.
Right now you’re just “kind of” targeting anyone within a 10 mile radius or whoever happens to stumble across your site; slipping fliers and coupons under windshield wipers and standing outside dressed as a hot dog flipping around a big sign while swallowing your pride for the chance of someone being intrigued enough to stop and ask what all of this is about. Or you’re spamming everyone’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds with the typical “LOOK AT MY STUFF,” posts just hoping and wishing you get someone, anyone to look your way.
You do this because you’re just not convinced about the value of branding and having an identity, and believe it to be counterproductive to your small business. You may even be skeptical and think that narrowly defining your target audience and ideal customer limits your revenue and growth possibilities all the while hoping someone hears something about your business other than “the people with the sign-flipping hot dog.”
Quick question for ya.
How do you expect what your business is about to be communicated via sign-flipping, and slipping coupons under windshield wipers?
Just because you have a phenomenal product or service doesn’t guarantee people are going to walk through the door or click on your site. Several companies were making phones until Apple came along and handed the world their company’s cultural beliefs, vision, and challenged everyone to get on board with thinking differently while building a very strategic and cohesive identity that shapes the architecture of their product systems (the naming convention for iProducts “iPhone, iPod, iPad” to the recently adopted Apple logo in front of a word “Apple Pay, Apple Watch”.) Companies like Apple, including Google, Target, Nike, and other top global brands all convey a specific, consistent message through their brand identity and have greatly benefited from doing so.
But how do you, the entrepreneur or nonprofit, benefit from brand identity at such an early stage in your business’ life?
1) It positions you as a professional
You’ll be able to command consistency, clarity, and credibility at a very early age:
- Consistency allows your target audience to know what to expect. It reinforces that uniquely crafted selling proposition you spent so much time creating and want everyone to know and remember. By knowing what they can expect from your brand, and hearing and seeing it multiple times, they will begin to assign a higher value and trust in your business. It also shows you take your business seriously. And you definitely want that perception.
- Clarity allows for no mixed messaging or muddy communication. You’re absolutely clear in your message, communications, and how you’re perceived. For example, you know what you’re going to get from Starbucks no matter the location. Once your target audience comes to know who you are and what you’re about, they can then start to adopt your values, beliefs, and become ambassadors for your brand. We don’t have Android v. Apple and Marvel v. DC wars on Facebook for nothing. Your brand loyalists will stand behind your brand’s cultural beliefs, values, vision, goals, and mission relentlessly when it is communicated with clarity. And when the message is clear, the word-of-mouth around your business won’t start with “the people sign-flipping hot dog.”
- Credibility allows for trust. Brand identity makes it possible to create multiple touch-points to establish different relationships with your target audience in order to start creating that trust.
2) It makes you look bigger and more important than you are—and can really drive home your first impressions
Your identity is the first point of contact for your target audience be it a business card, a flier, or your website. Whatever collateral pieces you’re sending out, they have the potential to make your business look more active, reliable, and trustworthy. Just take a look at these solo and entrepreneurs. Don’t they look like they’re capable of handling your needs and business?
You want prospects (potential customers) to look at your company and see that you have the resources to help them succeed. They will also expect to pay more for a larger, more established company. Handing anyone a home made business card, flier, or any sort of marketing collateral will position you as a smaller, very newly established business that may position you as a risk or someone not capable of solving a problem.
3) It communicates your company’s personality and values
Through the use of fonts, colors, patterns, photography systems, logos, and other graphical, video, or audio assets your company’s personality, values, characteristics, and services have the chance to always be communicated. Are you lighthearted and fun? Are you serious and all-business? Are you down to earth? Playful or matter-of-fact? Risque or conservative? Being able to communicate how your business speaks, behaves, thinks, and reacts is what you’re able to put forth when people experience your business. Consistently communicating what that is creates trust.
4) They will remember you
When you have a brand identity, you have the ability to create a business that people are going to remember. And that’s half the battle for us entrepreneurs. There are going to be all kinds of things you do to get your business noticed, from email marketing to networking to television advertising, but having invested into a professionally designed brand identity will be one of the best ways to make people remember you.
5) Creates an image of experience and reliability
A strong brand identity creates an image that your business has been around for some time. You are more likely to be seen as experienced, reliable, and credible than an unbranded businesses.
6) Command a premium price
If someone is willing to pass the $1 coffee at McDonald’s to pay $5 for the coffee at Starbucks, you’ve commanded the heck out of a price premium. A cohesive, consistent identity wraps your value proposition around your business. And the higher the value, the more your target audience expects to pay.
All of us entrepreneurs want to be perceived as offering a high-caliber service. I don’t know anyone in business who wants to look like an amateur and not be taken seriously. A brand identity ensures you look polished, put together, and communicate your organization’s ideals, motives, and what you’re all about.