A strong brand is an extremely important factor in long-term success, but may be something you still find hard to relate to. Perhaps you've got the wrong idea of what branding really is?
Branding can be a confusing and misunderstood topic. This is probably why many businesses shy away from it. However, a well-managed brand can give you a genuine long-term competitive advantage. This is especially relevant if you are looking to accelerate your growth.
Here, we’ll aim to dispel some of the most common myths about branding to push you in the right direction when it comes to growing your brand.
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Myth 1: Branding is only for multinational businesses
Truth: Every business has a brand
When you think of most well-known brands, huge global corporations come to mind, such as Apple, Ford and Sony. As a result, many assume that only huge businesses have a brand.
Nothing could be further from the truth, because all businesses have a brand, regardless of their size or industry sector.
Your brand is what people feel and think about you when they see or hear your company name. In a nutshell, it is your reputation, and who hasn't got one? As the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, says: "Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room."
By managing your brand, you will shape your reputation in the marketplace. This is a powerful way to convince more people to do business with you and increase customer loyalty. Also as Lord Karan Bilimoria, the founder of Cobra beer says: 'A strong brand will get you through a crisis’. Another point to keep in mind is that sometimes rebranding is the best way to revitalise a brand which has been neglected.
You have a brand whether you look after it or not. But if you don't take it seriously, who will?
Myth 2: Branding is only for consumer brands Truth: Branding applies to both B2C and B2B
The most famous worldwide brands tend to influence how we see branding as a whole. Altogether, they tend to be consumer brands operating in the Business to Consumer (B2C) sector.
As a result, many businesses operating in the Business to Business sector (B2B) assume branding isn't relevant to them.
Indeed, few see building and managing their brand as a priority. If you operate in the B2B sector, you may rarely use the term “branding” at all. Rather, you use words such as “credentials” or “reputation” when talking about your company. But, these are critical components of any brand.
The main difference between B2C and B2B marketing is the vocabulary used. However, in both cases, the goal is the same - convince others to buy from you. Their decision will be influenced by how well you communicate your strengths and value propositions.
Also, in the B2B sector, price and risk tend to be two of the most critical purchase decision factors. However, the last thing you want is to do is compete on price alone, as this is a race towards the bottom.
Have you noticed how companies with a strong brand tend to be seen as a less risky choice? Clients are happy to pay more for the reassurance that buying from them gives. These businesses are less under pressure to compete on price, which results in better margins with every sale.
Myth 3: Branding doesn’t impact business performance Truth: Branding is a major factor in business performance
Many businesses find it hard to measure how something like branding could impact their business growth. In the day-to-day running of your business, branding seems distant and abstract. Something nice to have, but with no real link to the bottom line.
It's important to dream big, even if you are not planning to become a giant like Google or JPMorgan Chase. A strong brand can help you boost growth by giving your business better visibility in your wider marketplace.
In fact, many small businesses have achieved stunning growth in highly competitive sectors by focusing on building their brand.
Example: Velasca Milano
In Italy, branding seems to scare many SMEs. For example, Velasca Milano is a small company selling handcrafted men’s shoes and accessories. They managed to achieve a stunning growth over the last five years by focusing on branding from day one.
They defined the Velasca’s brand as a mix of tradition, passion and innovation. This is encapsulated in their brand value proposition, ‘The future of tradition’, featured in all their marketing material . Their story is a good example that great products aren't enough to succeed in a highly competitive industry sector such as fashion. By combining great products with a great brand, Velasca Milan managed to find their niche. The success of the business is directly linked to this winning combination. Branding runs through every aspect of the company, from the core business strategy to marketing and the products themselves.
Branding enabled this small company, which owns only three stores across Italy and sells mainly online, to become a recognised luxury brand and grow much faster than competitors.
While this chosen example is from the B2C sector, in any industry sector where there is competition to become market leader, there are leading brands which dominate the market. This is the true power of branding, so it shouldn’t be something to be swept under the rug. Take advantage of it - you never know how much your business could thrive from it!
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