Branding is an essential aspect of any business, large or small, retail, business to customers (B2C) or business to business (B2B). An effective brand strategy gives you an essential edge in the increasingly competitive market. However, what exactly does "branding" mean? How does it affect small business?
Your brand is your promise to your customers. It tells them what they can expect from your service or products, and it distinguishes your offering from your competitors'. Your brand is derivative from who you are, whom you want to be and whom your customers identify your business.
Are you innovative in your industry? Is your product or the high-end, high-quality option, or the low-cost, high-value option? You cannot be all things to all people. Who you are should be based on some degree on whom your target customers want and need you to be.
The starting point of your brand is your logo. Your website, packaging and promotional materials--all of which should integrate your logo--communicate your brand.
Brand Strategy & Equity
Your strategy is how, where, what, when and to whom you intend to communicate and convey your brand messages. Where you choose to advertise is part of your brand strategy too. Your distribution channels are also an important part of your brand strategy. Moreover, how you communicate this are also part of your brand strategy that needs serious consideration.
Constant, strategic branding leads to a strong brand equity, which means the added value brought to your company's products or services allows you to charge more for your brand than what identical, un-branded products command. The most obvious example of this is Coke and Pepsi vs. a generic soda. Because both companies have built a powerful brand equity, it can charge more for its product--and customers will pay that higher price.
The added value key to brand equity comes in the form of perceived quality or emotional attachment. For example, Adidas, Nike and Puma associate its products with star athletes, hoping customers will transfer their emotional attachment from the athletes to their products.
Define Your Brand
Establishing your brand requires, at the very least, that you answer the questions below:
Do your research. Learn the needs, behaviours and desires of your current and prospective customers. Furthermore, don't rely on what you think they think. Know what they think.