By: Keshra Lucille
When starting a company, every business owner should answer the questions what makes your business different, how does your business connect with people, and most importantly how do you want people to feel about your business. These three question all lead up to one of the most critical questions being what is your company brand? A brand can be defined as an identifying image (i.e. logo) and/or a worded message (i.e. slogan) of a company and/or its product that emotionally connect with consumers.
Branding is an important way to establish the essence of your company in order to create customer loyalty or brand loyalty. As an example, think of the amount of people who are brand loyal to Apple vs. Blackberry vs. Samsung. Even if your company is not as huge as these conglomerates, reflect on how branding effects your choices when it comes to where you buy your coffee. Consider the thousands of people who are completely brand loyal to Tim Hortons, Starbucks, McCafe or their local mom-and-pop coffee shop. At one point in our lives, we have all had some sort of brand loyalty to a cell phone, coffee shop, grocery store, shoe brand, toothpaste, and/or even deodorant (i.e. Old Spice’s re-branding success comes to mind).
Many of us are brand loyal because the company makes us feel good, we believe that we are receiving good value from the company, or it could be the personal connection that we create between the company’s brand and our everyday life. In branding, try not to compete or copy competitor’s that already have established brands. The goal of branding is to create your own company’s unique image and stick with that produced branding. For example, Coach, Inc. started 72 years ago as a family-run business, stuck with their horse and cart logo founded in the 1950’s, and is now one of the most top-selling accessory brands around the world. If you don’t have 72 years, consider how quickly Google Inc. (founded in 1998) branded themselves as the go-to company for your web searching needs, maps and directions information, emailing and so on.
Creating a unique brand is a sure way to attract consumers and loyal customers. Gaining customers can take time, but gaining even one loyal customer is tremendously important for small businesses as good reputation often starts from word-of-mouth. Not only that, but this generation of Google, Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets has allowed businesses to reach a vast amount of customers much easier and faster than ever before. More than ever, establishing a strong brand is an important step in fostering long-lasting relationships with consumers and creating an image that can last for many years thereafter.