I never grew up on a real farm but having shown horses for many years I spent a fair amount of time around livestock. Naturally, I understood what branding was from an early age. However, in today’s world of marketing there are many definitions of branding, making the concept a bit more complex. It’s a word we all like to use and throw around often.
What exactly is a brand? Is it a name, slogan, or logo tied to an organization or product line? Is it telling a story? Or perhaps is it the perception individuals have about an organization or product line? It’s all of that… and much more.
Branding is somewhat a moving target evolving with consumer behavior. That said, to me branding is telling your story in a way that is authentic and different. It’s taking your unique offering and incorporating elements, words, and creativity for others to experience. A strong brand should provide a clear explanation as to who you are and what you do, as well as offer enough curiosity to engage.
Organizations spend big money on branding. But why wouldn’t you want to invest in such an important aspect of your company? Branding is your customer’s first impression, and sometimes the last. Do it well and you’ll reap deep benefits, including crushing your competition. Do it poorly and you just might find yourself out of business quickly.
This leads to the big question executives ask all the time: why should we invest in branding?
IT BUILDS TRUST.
Customers who use your products or services are saying they trust you by giving you their money. You don’t deserve it; you must earn it. Therefore, crafting a strong brand that conveys this value is important. FedEx does a great job building trust through branding. Customers send prized packages via FedEx because they know they’ll get there no matter what. They nailed it.
IT GENERATES LEADS.
Have you ever visited a website and had that annoying popup scream in your face asking for your email address so that your inbox can be blown up with unwanted junk, err I mean offers? Let’s be honest. EVERYONE. HATES. THAT. Yet, have you provided your information to a brand that earned your trust? Big difference, right? A strong brand will help you generate leads. Salesforce is a great tool for lead generation and also has a pretty slick brand. As an aside, don’t be an ‘ask’hole—someone that merely asks for something without providing any value first. EVERYONE. HATES. THOSE. TOO. Mark Babbitt has great content on this.
IT INCREASES REFERRALS.
No one likes to do business with organizations that are sloppy and unorganized. A clean brand clearly articulates its unique selling proposition and makes people want to use them. If your brand is clear and well thought out, then others are more likely to send more business your way. If you’ve wowed someone with your brand they are more likely to tell their friends about it. Dropbox does a great job incentivizing customers to refer friends through branding.
IT’S A SYMBOL OF COMMON CX.
Lastly, a strong brand builds a great customer experience. TED has built an incredible brand by bringing people and ideas together. Talks are consistent around the themes of Technology, Entertainment, and Design. Customers pay decent money to experience the brand in person because they know what they are going to get. On a local level, the University of Nevada holds an annual TEDxUNR event every January and has built a strong brand in our community. I’ve had the privilege experiencing TEDxUNR both as a customer and as a volunteer. Every year is better than the previous and the experience is always consistently amazing.
A FEW THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND:
Branding isn’t crafting a feel-good story with no operational backing. If your proposition is that you deliver on time, then you better be good for it before bragging about it. Also, branding isn’t merely telling others how awesome you are. Your customers will ultimately be the judge of that.
Have questions about branding? I’d love to chat. Leave me a comment below or find me on Twitter.
Cover Photo: Dominic Dreier