Five Reasons Why Branding is ImportantDate: 18 July, 2018
This is a question that comes up just often enough to be worth addressing here. It’s all too easy for us to assume everyone understands the value of branding, but of course, we’ve worked in this industry for decades – it seems so natural to us, it’s our bread and butter.
For some businesses, however, branding is – dare we say it – just a logo. It doesn’t really concern them on a day-to-day basis. As long as they make good products, or offer outstanding service, that’s all that matters, right? Well, yes and no.
Think of it this way (and this is a strangely clinical way to think of the power of branding, but it does put the thrust of our argument into perspective), when company acquisitions happen, they happen not for staff or even patents, but to tap into the brand and the feeling that their brand gives to consumers.
Consider Apple buying Beats. Apple are a (many) multi billion pound company, more than capable of replicating a Beats headphone – even right down to that signature, bass heavy Beats sound. But that isn’t what mattered in acquiring them. Think of the timeline of when they acquired them. Apple bought Beats in May 2014. Apple launches Apple Music in June 2015. Buying Beats showed the world that they were serious about music setting the stage for things to come a year ahead of schedule. With Beats under their umbrella, Apple could reap the benefits of a eight years of Beats brand and product building – giving them much needed credibility as late entrants into the music streaming market.
Objectively, Beats headphones were (and still aren’t) the best headphones on the market. Audiophiles the world over have proven that Beats headphones don’t offer the best recreation of sound on the market. They don’t perform as well as other brands, they (debatably) don’t look as good as headphones from other brands, and their bass-heavy sound couldn’t be more Marmite. And yet, the Beats brand only goes from strength to strength. They are a brand that people like to be seen with. A brand that stands for authentic sound, but without the nerdiness that so many audio brands fall victim to.
The point is that all Apple were buying, was the Beats brand. There was nothing else going for it, if we’re being brutally honest. But of course, there are other benefits to branding…
With a fleshed out brand in place, you have focus. If the branding process is followed to the letter, you will end up, not only with a clear vision of where you are heading, but complete agreement on what you stand for, what you want to achieve, and what you need to do to get there.
Branding can be carried out in isolation, with just the senior staff, or by involving the entire team – sanity checking each stage and making sure that you have complete buy-in at every level of your business.
A bit of homework for you. Open the homepages of five of your competitors, as well as your own. Click between them and try to sum up in each case what makes them different to you. You’ll struggle, a lot of the time. Chances are, you’ll all use similar language, similar colour schemes and even have similar site structures.
Differentiating within that climate is easy, so why don’t more companies do it? It’s an easy win for you, and with the right investment, perfect amount of engagement with the process and complete trust in the agency you task with taking back control of your brand, you could put yourself in an amazingly advantageous position.
You will undoubtedly have an idea of what your ideal employee looks like. That fictional person is the basis against which all job applicants are measured. As such, if you’re doing recruitment right, you’ll find that a lot of your employees share similar traits – and get on expertly as a result.
With a clearly defined brand, you commit to those ideals to paper. Your staff know what to strive towards and what to avoid. They know how they should behave, what impression they need to leave customers with and before long, that becomes the status quo – the day-to-day culture of your business.
As Scott Goodson wrote for Forbes back in 2012, “in today’s world…you can’t simply build a brand like they did in the old days. You need a cultural movement strategy to achieve kinetic growth for your brand. With that, the sky’s the limit.”
Here, he doesn’t mean culture in the sense described above, but in the sense of developing an emotional connection with consumers – something they can feel a part of by buying into your brand. Branding, when done properly, gives you that. It crystallises the reason that customers should believe in you, and everything you have to offer.
Circling back to the very start of this piece, we have seen the value that branding adds to a business. Brand alone elevated an admittedly middle-of-the-road headphone manufacturer (in terms of the product alone) to such a degree that it caught the eye of one of the world’s biggest companies.
Even if the other four reasons listed here don’t resonate with you, this one should. A strong enough brand makes your business more valuable, there are no two ways about it. If anything, it’s because of the other four reasons that this fifth reason is even possible.
Branding is essential, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Companies with strong brands perform better than those without them – and they perform well in any financial climate.