“Branding is for big companies.” This is a common misconception with business owners, especially, small business owners. The truth of the matter is directly contradictory to this thinking. The reality is in fact reverse. Brands help to build big companies.
What is Branding?
In very simple terms, a brand is what differentiates your products and services from that of your competitors which are more or less identical to your products and services. It is often said that the first mover in the industry has an advantage over future competitors. But the first movers’ advantage is nothing compared to having a brand advantage. The brand advantage is so powerful that it can even offset any deficiencies in the product even. That is too powerful.
There are majorly two terms to know with regards to branding— brand identity and brand image. Brand identity is what the creator or manager of the brand make out the brand to be. There are various contributing factors to brand identity like logo, color scheme, price points, location, level of service, product material, exclusivity, etc. There is any number of factors that a brand manager can manipulate to change the brand identity of a brand.
Be sure to check out “5 Brand Tips for Small Businesses” for more branding tips.
Terms of Brand Image
The next term is the brand image. Brand image is the perception a consumer has in their mind or perceptual space regarding the brand. The brand image is formed in the mind of the consumer in part because of the brand identity created by the brand creators. A variety of other factors influence the brand image in the mind of a consumer. A brand creator has control over brand identity but has no control over brand image.
When to Start Branding?
You cannot create a brand after the company has become very large in size. The brand-building exercise has to start from the inception of the business. Not just the legal inception of a business, but it is better to have thought about branding, even in the idea phase of the business. It is best for a brand to have deep intertwining relations with the product or service.
Take a look at “5 Tips for Branding a Small Business” for a guide on how to position yourself as a brand.
How to Brand and Grow a Business?
The first step to be considered in marketing is generally abbreviated as STP. STP stands for Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning. Segmentation is the manner in which the whole consumer base is divided into segments using different parameters like demographic parameters, psychographic parameters, etc. Such multiple segments are generated and one of these segments has to be selected as the target consumers for your business. This serves as a stepping stone for the branding process of your business.
The third element is Positioning. Positioning is the way by which a portion of the consumers’ mind is owned by your brand. It is such a powerful element of a brand that entire books have been written just on positioning brands.
For any product category, many brands are vying for the attention and the wallet share from a customer. Imagine if a brand, your brand, has a strong, positive association with a powerful idea in the minds of the consumer. This will help the consumer develop a highly positive brand image in his/ her mind. This will cause a high brand affinity for that particular customer.
Looking to position yourself as one of the top ice cream shops around? Be sure to check “6 Ice Cream Shop Branding Tips” for tips on branding your shop.
Retaining Customers is the Key to Growth
For any business to sustain, it has to acquire new customers and retain their existing customers. Acquiring a customer is a hard and very costly affair. So retaining a customer is the easier and cost-effective way to grow your business. For any products, let say noodles, a consumer will have a list of brands that can serve his/ her needs. But the brands in the mind of the consumer is in a hierarchy whether the consumer knows it or not. More often than not, every consumer chooses the brand at the top in the hierarchy of choices. So it is of paramount importance to gain the top spot in the customers’ minds. This will bring the customer back to your business day after day.
Want to know how Starbucks got to the tip of the hierarchy chain in coffee brands? Check out “6 Coffee Shop Branding Tips” for more.
Consumers & Business
Let us exercise two ways to retain customers for a noodle place. One way is to reach your existing customers with texts or other targeted advertising methods to remind your customers of your business. Another way is to have a custom branded takeaway container for the business. The takeaway container will be in front of the eyes of the customer for a long period and the customer will react in a positive manner to that. The first scenario is costly as you will have to spend money to reach out to your customers. In the second scenario, you invoke brand recall with the purchase already made by the customer. It is a way less expensive method.
Creating a strong brand is the most definite way of growing your business. Extreme care has to be taken while creating the brand identity and your whole business has to center around the brand. Without creating a strong brand with positive associations it is virtually impossible to grow a business.
Thank you for reading! Be sure to also check out other helpful tips on growing your business like “8 Things You Should Know Before Opening a Coffee Shop“, “7 Things You Should Know Before Opening Restaurant“, or “Leadership Tips For Cafe Owners“.
Brand My Cafe helps small & medium-sized businesses, cafes and foodservice brands grow their identity through custom coffee cups, coffee sleeves & more. Join our exclusive Facebook group Restaurant Brand Builders to brainstorm ideas with passionate other passionate owners!