Brand development is often perceived as the domain of big companies—the Targets, Walmarts, and Whole Foods of the world. But reality is a little different than most people’s perceptions. As an emerging small business, brand development is pivotal to helping you stand out from the competition and drive new business. A matter of fact, a properly and thoroughly developed brand can become your most important and most valuable asset and give you powerful legal protections not afforded weak and nondescript brands.
What is a Brand?
The word brand can mean different things depending on who you’re talking to, but let’s look at brand as two separate things:
- Brand can be defined as a “product name” or “company name” such as “Walmart” or “Nike.” These brands are well-known and established, that’s why most people instantly recognize them even without any of the unique symbols or messaging associated with those name.
- Brand can also be defined as the way that the public views products, services, or companies. For example, it can be argued that when people think of Walmart they think of cheap goods imported from China. And when people think of Nike, they may think of high fashion athlethic shoes known for quality. But a brand doesn’t just describe how the public may perceive the tangible qualities of a product, service or company it can also describe the emotional relationship they have with the brand. For example, some people feel negative feelings towards Walmart because they associate it with labor exploitation or the displacement of mom and pop businesses in small towns. These public perceptions need not be true for them to positively or negatively impact a brand.
What’s important for you to remember as a business is that you can influence how your brand is perceived by the public, and it’s important that you take an active role in influencing that perception. Contributor, Scott Goodson provides great examples of how a company’s brand can contribute more to it’s value than almost any other aspect of the business in his Forbes article, Why Branding is Important.
A good brand will help you stand out in a sea of sameness. In a world where entrepreneurship is rising, there are many companies offering the same services and products. What makes them different may be their quality or design or some other feature directly related to the product or service. However, some of the most powerful brands stand out in a way that is more related to how the public perceives it, their emotional attachment or “love” of the brand. For example, a tire company that donates a portion of its sales to charity may create a brand that is perceived as having a big heart. This emotional connection that the brand creates can be the deciding factor in whether or a not a new customer does business with the company.
Why do people buy brand name products over generic ones, even when the quality of the generic product is the same as the brand name one? It’s because the public has a positive perception of the brand name product that it doesn’t have of the generic. And since most people don’t have time to check and compare the ingredients or integrity of a brand name versus a generic product they make a decision based on their emotional connection to the brand they favor. Any business who takes the time to develop a powerful brand can benefit from this phenomenon.
If you develop a powerful brand, you can inspire loyalty in both your customers and employees. Since good brands create strong emotional connections with the public, leaving a powerful brand is similar to a divorce—most are reluctant to consider it unless things get really bad. Customers who are brand loyal are willing to forgive mistakes (and every brand will make them) as long as the brand stays true to its core promises. For example, if your brand is known for its quality, then keeping true to the promise of quality will keep customers loyal.
In the end, developing a powerful brand that emotionally resonates with the public will attract more customers and inspire confidence and loyalty.