How Important is Branding – if You’re a Small Company?
Many smaller businesses are of the opinion that branding is just for big business, whilst everyone else gets on with the job. Fair point. Especially if your budget is limited and you’re having to make difficult resource choices. But putting aside budget implications for a moment, let’s rephrase the question: Who is branding important to? Is it you, or your customers?
What Are We Talking About When We Say ‘Branding’
Branding is the impression that people have of your business either through being a customer, a visitor to your website, or social media account, or as a browser on Google. Some components of branding are in your control; others aren’t.
One way of describing branding is the reputation your business accrues as the result of things you have control of, and those you don’t.
Is Branding Important to Customers?
It is. The language of retail has transformed over the past few years as more and more products and services have moved online. Now customers have loads of online choice but how are they to distinguish between one product and another? Research by the Harvard Business Review has found that customers are influenced by values that fall into 4 different categories, when choosing between one proposition and another:
- Functional Values. Does it save time, reduce cost, add novelty, inform, help etc?
- Emotional Values. Is it attractive, or fun, or exciting? Is there a therapeutic element? Does it make me feel nostalgic?
- Life Changing Values. Will it give me hope? Will it make me feel I belong? Will it help me to understand more clearly what I want from life?
- Social Impact. Can it help be to break free of my social anxieties and become a confident person?
How Do Values Translate Into Practice?
Imagine you click through to a website you haven’t visited before. The first thing you’ll notice is the colour theme, the images, and the logo. Within microseconds you’ll have an emotional response to what you’re seeing as well as forming a view of the type of company you’re looking at. Cool and distant? Warm and friendly? Professional but welcoming?
Your experience of using the site is also part of the branding. Are you respected as a busy person who needs to navigate quickly to what you want? Or are you required to work at finding the information you need. Is the site inclusive, or exclusive?
Branding is an Important Conversation
The Outsource Your Marketing team encourage small businesses to think of branding as a conversation they’re having with people who visit their site. Our web designers help clients to find ways to speak visually about who they are, what matters to them, and how they work with their clients.
Most important, branding is seen as a way to open up the conversation between buyer and seller in order that the relationship develops from being transactional and short-term, to becoming collaborative and long-term.