“My business is small. Why should I get into branding? Plus, it’s quite an investment. I can’t afford it.”
This is what most small business owners say when the subject of branding comes up in conversations. The truth is, you cannot afford not to. Your brand is an important ingredient to your success, whether you are a big or small business—in fact, it matters even more if you are small.
What branding is
Let us take a step back and understand what branding is. First things first, it is not a logo. It is not a trademark. It is not a product. True, it is all of these things but it is way more than that.
Branding is what sets you apart from the rest of the pack. It is the sum of people’s perception about your company. It helps make people want to support and buy you. It is that emotional bond that makes people’s pulse beat a little faster, make them want to open their wallets willingly. Remember, people buy from those whom they trust and like.
Studies have shown that only 20% of the reasons for buying a brand are logical; the rest is emotional. Why do you think people keep on buying Apple products despite the fact they can enjoy the same features, if not more, by buying a different brand?
Why do you think people go to Starbucks often? Sure, they go for the coffee, but it is more about the whole Starbucks experience—the sights, sounds, and smells inside the store; the comforting and familiar ring of your name being called out when your coffee is ready; and the personal and warm service you get from their baristas.
And the list goes on. Is it not exactly why you have a “suki” for fresh fruits, vegetables, shoes, and clothes? Having said this, how do you now get started with branding? There are key areas you need to look into when you start your branding journey.
It is all about brand love
The most successful brands in the world are the ones fueled by passion. If you do not believe in your own brand, how do you expect people to believe in it, too?
As the owner of the company, you are often the brand. And how connected you feel toward your brand often translates to how strong your consumers can bond with it. Think Steve Jobs and Apple, or Richard Branson and Virgin Atlantic.
“Small business branding is the owner. It’s what the owner does, says, and how the owner’s traits come through in every aspect of the business. It’s the way relationships are built and maintained, the way a person does business and treats other people. It’s how rapport is established at an individual level, where trust and comfort exist as human characteristics, not from theme music, models or slogans,” said Yaro Starak, founder of Blog Mastermind.
Develop a voice and personality
Much like a person, a great brand has a unique personality and a distinct tone of voice. Both are expressions of a company’s culture, values, and ideas. When shaping and choosing the right personality and tone of voice for your company, think about how you want to convey yourself to people. Do you want to be perceived as friendly, quirky, or authoritative?
Most banks strive to sound commanding and confident because cultivating trust and credibility is essential for their success. Most fast food brands work toward having an approachable, fun, and friendly persona. After all, a lot of them target kids and families, as in the case of Jollibee.
Whatever impression you choose to leave your audience, make sure that it is aligned with what you are offering and what you want the brand to stand for. Most importantly, it should connect with your audience.
Keep your promises
Today’s audience is quite perceptive. They can sense a fake from a mile away. Who you say you are should translate into real and genuine experiences that live up to what you say. If you want your brand to stick around for a long while, deliver on your promise.
Know your audience intimately
Find out about their dreams and desires, their wants, needs, and interests. Get to the bottom of what makes them tick. Know what turns them off. It does not end with the knowing; another essential component is acting on what you know.
If you still have lingering doubts about branding, you will probably ask, “So, what’s the pay off?” The ultimate ROI (return on investment) of branding is loyalty. Loyalty is what keeps customers coming back for more. It is what drives up profits.
Take that first step to elevating your business into a brand. Be there when international brand strategist Melvin Ong from AS Louken Singapore talks about the transformative powers of branding on April 26, 2016 at Ascott Bonifacio Global City, Taguig in a seminar called “Branding for Global Success.”
Mark it on your calendars. For details, call (+632) 634-3717, (+632) 634-0586, or (+632) 638-3149 to 50 or email cheech.santos[at]aslouken.com
Chris is the senior vice president for marketing and strategy of Francorp Philippines; president of U-Franchise Sales & Management; and chairperson and director for special projects, ASEAN integration-Philippine Franchise Association.
Photos from Thinkstock and Shutterstock