Why branding is important to small business?
Consumers face more choices today than they did 20 years ago as marketplaces get crowded with new competitors. Companies that have strong brand presence in the market are more likely to stand out in their sea of competitors, but does it stop there? Research shows that the brands who are able to create real relationships with their customers create long term success, and even shift consumer perspective, impact lifestyle decisions, and shape cultures.
A great tool to maximize your company’s performance
Branding is especially important for small to medium sized companies because the biggest hurdle for success often lies in a lack of resources. When faced with limited funding, good branding strategy actually benefits a company as it allows them to focus on unifying communication efforts, minimizing the resources it takes to build reputation and recognition, thus maximizing overall performance. When done properly, a good brand can establish meaningful conversations with potential customers upon first contact, thus laying down the foundation for creating relationship and loyalty. It also enables the company to envision a better future and plan for sustainable growth. You might not be aware, but working on your brand while building your company is a way of building brand equity, which defines a company’s value in practical terms. The earlier a company becomes aware of integrating branding into their daily business operations, the more they can leverage their value before the marketing and sales resources get put in place.
This is why branding doesn’t just mean logos, letterheads or marketing materials. What branding really is, is to discover a company’s own unique advantages and express them through designed brand assets (in other words, from visual identity to a promotional campaign strategy and advertising). We often say that every component of your brand is telling your story to your customers, and you want to take advantage of every aspect to send a meaningful message.
For example, packaging really represents what branding means and how it plays out in the real world. Packaging interacts with your customers at various stages in the customer’s journey (figure. Customer journey [stages]). Good packaging gets noticed immediately by consumers on a crowded shelf space by presenting the right message that aligns with what the customer is looking for (through shape, colour, visual elements, material, naming and messaging, etc). Packaging also helps to attract the right kind of customer and thus increase the probability of making a sale by communicating clearly what the product is about and why it stands out. A well designed package takes every opportunity to deliver a consistent experience and opens up a dialogue with the customer. It can even enhance the customer experience and works to sustain long term customer relationships: the experience of opening the product (if it’s easy/enjoyable to open, if the material used aligns with the customer’s beliefs, etc) speaks volumes about who you are and why your customer should feel good about choosing your product. If a company ignores the customer experience in designing their packaging, they will end up with packaging that delivers confusing or inconsistent messages, attracting audiences who are not ideal customers, and losing opportunities for building brand recognition and long-term customer engagement.
All of your communication efforts must work towards the same consistent brand message in order to stand out from your competitors, leave a lasting impression, or turn your customers into loyal advocates, whatever aligns best with your business model and business goals.
The best branding practices are always integral to a company’s strategy, growth plan and culture. It’s never too late to start building your brand.