Strategic branding is now more important than it has ever been. For an organization or business to get people to do what it wants, it needs to break through the noise of competition (everyone competing for your target audience’s attention) and ensure that the people hear what they want to hear.
You don’t have a strong brand just because you have an awesome logo. You don’t have a strong brand just because your organization’s name or tagline is catchy. You don’t have a strong brand just because you have an amazing color palette. You don’t have a strong brand just because your visual design is consistent everywhere. All these features are important, but no single one of them is by itself your brand.
In fact, your brand is more than even all those features of your organization put together. A function of psychology, science, and design—a brand is the sum of all the emotions and impressions people experience when interacting with your organization.
And here’s what every organization that has as part of its agenda to reach and influence people needs to realize: You won’t have a strong brand unless you have a strong brand strategy .
To be known and remembered, to stand out from the competition, and to not look like you sell just a commodity, you must take control of your organization’s brand strategy. And you must control as much of your brand as you can.
But if your brand is just what those who interact with your organization feel about it, how can you control it? How can you control other people and their emotions?
The answer is that you can control at least the impressions people get and much of how they feel when interacting with your organization. There are many things you can do to influence the way people perceive the credibility and the values of your company.
When people want to buy your product because they have a strong emotional connection to your brand, they’ll continue buying your product through difficult economic times. And during great economic times, you’ll be able to charge more than your competition but still get more customers. People will know they’re paying more than they could be, but they’ll be happy with it.
A unique brand strategy will help you stand out among your competitors. This differentiation is the best thing you can have to ensure long-term profitability, which is possible only when customers are loyal. The best customers are loyal to the brand, not the products. They buy brands, not the products.
If you invest in your business’s brand strategy properly, you can build your brand to be so huge and powerful that it will continue to reach people beyond the life of any of your products. Your brand can outlive your products and continue thriving in future generations.
And precisely that is what your brand strategy should make its goal. Your company’s goal should be to build a brand that will continue growing a hundred or more years from now—even if you don’t think your company can exist that long. This is probably the single most important mindset all the executives and managers in your company must embrace: If you want to reach people today, you must think big enough and at least pretend that your company will be enormous in a couple decades.
Your brand should naturally promise your customers something specific—that your company will still be around in 30 years. Your customers want to be assured that, after they buy your product, your brand will be recognized and respected going forward. A customer may be considering to buy your product now and switch to another product in less than a year, but they at least want to be assured that they’ll be able to use your product for at least two or three years if they end up needing it that long.
When you go to buy a phone from AT&T, you don’t fear signing a two-year contract because of concerns that the company will disappear within those two years (as if the company will be forgotten and neglected by those who run it). You know that you’ll probably stay with the company for many more years to come, if that’s where you’ve been for a long time. You don’t need to consider switching to another company. But if you’re with a relatively new phone carrier (or signed up with it because it was cheapest), then nothing is stopping you from switching to another company.
If you’re picking a company’s product on price considerations alone, then you’re not the customer most of the (good) companies in that industry are most interested in. So if you, dear reader, are running a company, then your goal should be to impress the customers who will pay a premium for your product and commit to a long-term relationship with your company. That’s the kind of customer who will ultimately bring in the most revenue for your company.
When you’re offered extended warranty for an Apple product, for example, you don’t wonder if Apple’s warranty department will disappear within the next three years. You know the company is in it for real and will take care of you for as long as you own their product.
When a company asks you to pay for a year of service or updates in advance, do you have doubts about whether you’ll need their product for an entire year? Do you have doubts about whether the company will continue releasing updates for another full year? If you have either of these doubts, then that company is failing at branding itself as a serious contender in the industry.
What about your own company’s employees? Do they plan to stay with you for the rest of their lives? Or do they think your company is just good enough for the next few years and are building a plan to find a new job when your company begins to fail? Would they buy your company stock?
Your brand is a winner if you can get your employees to be loyal and believe in your company’s future. With a brand that has a promising future, you’ll attract talent and be more innovative. And then it becomes easier still to grow. It’s a self-sustaining cycle.
If you have won the trust of your shareholders, they’ll stay invested in your company for years. As a company, you want to get to the point that your shareholders believe that, even if your company loses all its physical assets, they’ll still get their money back because your brand is valuable. Branding in the most valuable companies is finance strategy, not just an optional chore. Your brand is something you should talk about on your quarterly reports—announce the victories your brand is enjoying.
To repeat, it all begins with a branding strategy.
Luckily for you, you came across this article in time to take advantage of our booming economy and can now grow your business to new heights. We suggest that you begin with your company’s website because it is likely is the public face of the company. So invest in your website generously. To get started, go ahead and request a consultation with us here at Wider Webs.
Now it’s your turn: What do you think of the role of branding to a company’s success? Post your comment below…