Understanding branding and what it means for your business

26th October 2018

What does branding mean to you and your business – do you understand the depth behind a strategic brand approach and how it can support your company or are you someone who just wants a pretty logo?

If your answer relates to the logo then you are not one of our customers. Yes, we will turn away customers who ask for branding but then don’t understand what it entails and are only concerned with frippery.

The team at Frost Creative provides professional branding services and we are proud of that. We always start any new project with a client from a strategic, business approach – we never start with design first.

So let’s get clear on understanding what branding actually entails by starting with a look at what branding is not:

Branding is not just a logo – despite what many new business owners believe. We are approached frequently by new start-up businesses wanting “a logo” rather than trying to develop their brand. A logo is one aspect of the whole branding process.

Branding is not just an identity – it’s not just about the colours, style, font and imagery that you use for your business, it goes a lot deeper than that and should be a fundamental part of your business strategy. It needs to reflect what your business stands for, values and offers to customers in an authentic way.

Branding is not advertising – advertising means running generally short-term promotions which encourage people to buy into the brand. Branding is much broader than advertising alone.

Branding is not marketing – while getting the brand right is a key aspect of marketing, marketing is all about developing relationships between potential customers and the brand. The brand is much broader than just marketing.

A brand is not a product – a brand isn’t the product you are selling. It’s not the actual physical product or service which your business provides, it’s far more complex.

Branding is not trendy – a brand should be enduring and lasting and driven by business goals and research – it’s not about trying to make your company look trendy, it’s about creating a lasting good impression on your customers.

The importance of customer perception

A brand ultimately is the feeling and perception a person has about your product, service or organisation. It’s not about what you say the business or product is; it’s about what your customers think it is.

Controversial? Maybe – but it is true. Businesses looking to develop a genuine brand strategy need to understand what their audience perception is. This is the difference between just making a logo, and building a brand.

If you like pink, you might just be lazy and make a pink logo. If you like pink, but you do your brand research and find out your customers all like blue you would use blue to develop your brand because this would be the strategic business thing to do.

But why does it matter so much? Well, it’s important for several reasons – mainly to help customers make the decision to buy your products and services. People have too many choices and too little time to make these decisions, particularly as most product offerings have similar quality and features.

Your brand as your reputation

People tend to base their buying choices on trust so part of your business strategy has to be to build your brand character. Your brand is your business reputation and can be separated into three key areas:

1. Your identity – namely what you as an organisation believe in and what you stand for. It’s about your business personality and the way you express it.

2. Your behaviour – how you act and behave along with the relationships you form and the experiences people have with you all affect your brand reputation.

3. Your performance – what you do and how you deliver it and the value you deliver are al fundamental.

Put it this way, imagine having imagery which shouts about how fantastic your customer service is, and yet the reality is actually very poor. Your customer’s perception of you will be that you offer poor customer service, no matter what your adverts might say. It will be a negative experience and your reputation will be a bad one.

You need to be true and your business brand needs to be authentic otherwise you’ll fail. Nobody likes a bull-shitter do they so don’t turn your brand into one.

How can I make sure my brand is authentic?

One of the important aspects of developing an authentic brand is having appropriate and relevant key messages. These messages serve to support your positioning, proposition, core values and business objectives.

Your business key messages are there to define the differentiation between you and your competitors in an honest and easy to understand way, and they enable a consistent message to be used when communicating with your audiences.

If your brand is authentic and consistent across all audience communication it will go a long way to building a great reputation for your business.

Isn’t my business too small to need branding?

If you want your business to be successful and appeal to your customers then the answer is a resounding no. Branding is not just for huge corporates – it should be an integral part of every business.

Even if you only have a small budget you can still develop a branding strategy and an effective brand for your business. The branding principles work for whatever size company.

Sadly many business owners have a short-term view, expecting instant return from any investment but branding is a long-term approach. Even the smallest company will benefit from investing in their own branding because a strong brand becomes a valuable business asset in itself.

Branding adds a value to your business through a protected identity which you can trademark and it makes the business instantly recognisable both for future employees, would-be customers and investors.

Branding is good for business – if you are looking for repeat customers and for customer loyalty on a long-term basis then branding comes into its own. Advertising will bring in new customers but when you are looking to create relationships for ongoing and repeat sales it’s all down to your brand.

Conclusion

So, when it comes to understanding what branding means and why it should be a strategic component to your business, hopefully this article has given you a very quick overview.

Branding is so much more than just creating a logo and needs to be aligned to your business strategy and growth plans. No matter what size your company is or what budget you have, at Frost Creative we will always start with strategy first.

We are a complete brand agency and can help you with every stage, from brand strategy to implementing the new brand. If you’d like to talk to us about help with your brand, get in touch today.