Defining Your Brand Identity
Are you a Holden or Ford fan? Mercedes or BMW? Mac or PC? Do you prefer to use PayPal or Credit Card?
Irrespective of how much we think we are in control of our own decisions, the reality is that through clever branding and marketing, companies influence us as consumers. We might think we have made a decision, but in fact it’s more likely that someone informed us of the decision they want us to make via their brand strategy.
Branding doesn’t have to be over the top or flashy. The key is consistent branding and messaging across the whole of your business, regardless of what your brand may look like.
Walking into a McDonalds in one suburb is very much like walking into one the next suburb over. Every detail, from the furniture to the colour scheme to the menu board fonts and the messaging throughout the store have been cleverly thought out, ensuring that whichever store you walk into anywhere in Australia, you know you are in a McDonalds venue.
This is brand consistency at its best.
Brand consistency is important for two main reasons:
- Viewing the same branding and messaging over and over generates brand recognition (the ability to recognise a brand by an element or colour – such as the Golden Arches) and brand recollection (brand recall when one requires something – I’m hungry, so I’ll stop at McDonalds).
- Consistency helps to build a professional image, which in turn helps to build confidence in your business, which in turn improves sales conversions.
When it comes to branding, most people assume the term refers to a businesses’ logo. While the logo is important, there is a lot more to branding than this.
In essence, the brand is the ‘personality’ of a product or company. It is a way for companies to differentiate themselves, to cut through the walls of business and connect on an emotional level with their target market.
‘A brand is not so much about rational arguments, but the way that the company resonates with people emotionally.’ – Steve Jobs
Brands represent promises made by companies, set expectations and help forge perceptions. With the right strategy, brands lead to customer familiarity (brand recognition), and engender powerful emotions that can be capitalised and leveraged to generate sales.
The biggest mistake small businesses make is believing that branding is an exercise for the big end of town only. Whether you’re the world’s biggest search engine or a local legal firm, your potential customers are driven by emotions. As anyone who has ever made a decision on ‘gut feeling’ or ‘intuition’ can attest, pulling the emotional strings at the brand level of a business is a key success strategy.
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