In a recent meeting with small business owners, I covered the basics of branding. It's a term that's often thrown around in discussions relating to entrepreneurship, but rarely explained in a way that is useful for the average guy or gal that is simply looking to give their business an edge.
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If you want to better understand what branding is, I want you to "Google" it. When you've found some great info, make a "Xerox" of your findings. If this kind of legwork causes you to sweat, reach for a "Kleenex" and carry on. OK, I think you know where I'm going with my inartful wordplay.
As demonstrated by the previous examples, the apex of all branding is when you successfully fuse the services/products you provide with your company's name - that's it.
I guess my work is done here. Not quite.
You see, when I give you a few examples of great branding, you know exactly what it's all about. If fact, I bet you can easily come up with some examples of your own. From this we can conclude that the tough part is not identifying what branding is, rather how one goes about building it.
I obviously cannot unpack the minutia of brand building in a short article, but I can provide three building blocks that will serve as a foundation for your business' strategy.
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No. 1: Emotion
If your branding is based on telling people about the number of years you’ve been in business, consumer awards collected, or certifications that your staff carries, you’ve completely missed the boat . A key pillar of building a brand can be found in tapping into the emotions of your buyer. The things I just mentioned are logical selling points. Studies have demonstrated that the vast majority of consumers (approximately 70%) are driven to purchase by emotion. If you are to build your brand, focus on how your marketing makes people feel, rather than what they think.
No. 2: Memory
I like to compare branding to real estate – if you are able to move into the neighborhood of the consumer’s memory, you’ve won. Many small businesses, however, are content to merely cruise through the memory-neighborhood – never to claim a spot. This is often played out by infrequent marketing efforts, lack of continuity or failure to keep marketing ideas fresh. In my conferences, I always ask business owners, what will cause me to remember you once I’ve turned off the TV, radio, smartphone or computer? What have you’ve done to leave a lasting memory? I now challenge you with the same questions.
No. 3: Connection
My wife has become a raving fan of the iPhone. I’ve recently told her the new Samsung phone may be as good, if not better. She doesn’t care – she only has allegiance for one phone now. You could even say there’s a connection. Through its intuitive products, laudable customer service and trendy stores, Apple has managed to establish a connection with consumers. This connection serves as insulation against cheaper and better competitors. How does your business connect with customers? Have you fully vetted your operations, communications and products to insure a tight connection? Establishing a connection demands that you think beyond the cash register; it demands that you deliver on a buying experience that cannot be replicated.
Walter Dailey is a marketing speaker, consultant, and creative director for DSV Media, a Columbus Advertising Agency specializing in marketing help for small and mid-sized businesses. Follow him here: @wrdailey @dsvcreative