Branding is a term we hear about a lot in today’s business world, but what does it actually mean? It floats around between big business, small business, new business, and old business yet it never really seems to get defined. It’s one of those mystery concepts that everyone is expected to know, but they secretly hope nobody ever asks them to define.

What is branding?

The first thing you need to understand is that there really isn’t a book definition for branding. Not unless you’re a cattle rancher looking to mark your herd that is. The type of branding we are talking about is much more collective and much less painful to your hind end. While it does contain these elements branding is not just the collection of logos, typefaces, fonts, colors, and design. Your brand is your voice, it’s your look, personality, and promise as perceived by the general public. Your brand helps you tell the story of who you are and what you do. It demonstrates your value to the marketplace and creates powerful relationships with your customers. The following quote may help you better understand what branding means.

“Your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from that of your competitors. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.” Entrepreneur.com

What are the ingredients of a good brand?

So by now we understand that a brand is not just a straightforward definition. It is comprised of many different aspects of business, but there are some similar traits that all good brands will possess. These traits can be further broken down into tangible and intangible assets. The tangible assets include things like websites, logos, printables, business cards, etc. You get it, the things we can physically see or hold in our hands that in some way shape or form help represent a business. On the other side of things, we have the intangible assets. These include your company’s voice, the experience you provide, your customer service, and goodwill. In other words, the things we can’t see or touch but are equally important in creating and maintaining the image of your company. You need to understand that a good brand will have a mix of both tangible and intangible assets. It’s a delicate balancing act but taking the time to get it right will be worth it in the end.

It’s Alive

There is no such thing as a quick and easy brand. Anyone who thinks a brand can be developed overnight clearly doesn’t understand the true meaning of the word. Brands are well thought out and strategic plans that take patience to develop. It’s an ever-changing process that takes place over time and requires constant care. Branding is not something you engage in only once and it’s not a standard you set for the entire life of your business. You wouldn’t buy the same color shirt for your entire life would you? Just as your taste and preferences change so will that of your business meaning your brand will constantly be adapting. The best way to go about understanding your brand is to think of it as a living thing. In many ways, your brand is in fact just that. Your brand won’t grow on its own. It can’t feed and nurture itself. It’s like a baby that is born at the start of your business. It’s your responsibility to take care of it as it grows up. How you care for you brand will result in how strong it grows up to be.

Why you should care

Your brand is detrimental to the success of your business. Effective branding will help you create long-lasting relationships with clients. It will help you stand out amongst the competition, and simplify the decision-making process for consumers. Many companies today are already engaging in brand defining activities without even knowing it. Every phone call, sale, customer interaction, pitch, and social media post you make has a direct effect on your brand. These become more than just daily business activities. They become tools you can use to effectively shape and mold your brand.

Step into the real world

The easiest way to understand the effect of a brand is to take a walk through your local grocery store. Take the detergent aisle for example. There are tons of options to choose from when it comes to laundry detergent so how do people actually make a decision? Many of those laundry detergents even have the same ingredients and fragrances meaning the only difference between them is… You guessed it, their brand. The brand is what persuades the customer to make one purchase vs. another. It’s why some people end up choosing Tide over Roundy’s Brand even though what’s inside the bottle is almost identical. Tide has built up a very strong brand name that has attributed to their dominance as a detergent. With Tide, it’s not just about what’s in the bottle. It’s about what’s behind the name. People feel a connection to the Tide brand and because of that connection their eyes are automatically drawn to that bottle when walking down the isle. If they were to take 10 or 15 minutes to stop and study some of the competing brands I’m sure they could find a suitable and cheaper replacement, but Tide is trusted, it’s easy and convenient for them to just grab and go.

Now you see just how important a businesses brand really is. It’s not something to neglect and it’s not something to rush. Over time, your brand will be one of the biggest contributing factors to your business. So don’t rush it and do your homework.

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