The Basics of Branding For Building A Loyal and Profitable Customer Base
The face of your brand must be in the minds of your customers every time an opportunity to purchase a product presents itself — that’s what branding comes down to.
A brand isn’t just a fancy company logo, it’s an image that is created in the minds of consumers to increase reputation and awareness of an organization.
Building a brand image means increasing customer loyalty towards your company.
Every time a product you launch does what it’s supposed to, your brand image increases.
In the sections below, we will understand why branding is used by companies.
UNDERSTANDING BRANDING IN ITS TRUE SENSE
What is Branding?
Branding is roughly defined as creating a unique name and product in the mind of a consumer to ensure your organization is established.
Let’s take an example of Coca-Cola — when it was first launched, the word “Coke” meant a shortened word for the recreational drug “Cocaine”.
In time, with advertising and global branding, Coca-Cola has become a household name. Today, youngsters don’t need to research a product launched by the company and have become loyal consumers of the brand.
Similarly, when a brand is first launched, there are suspicions and doubts in the minds of consumers.
After all, they aren’t sure what the product is about and why they should try it. Until word gets around the social circle, a product without branding will have no takers.
What is the main purpose of Branding in eCommerce?
Wouldn’t it be great if your company was famous all over — social media, news, community clubs, gyms, etc?
The main purpose of branding comes down to spreading the word that your brand exists and that consumers get exactly what was advertised on your products.
In market conditions where 10 different companies claim their products are the best, how does the average consumer know which among the 10 companies are worth their words? — That’s where branding differentiates your company from your competitors.
The true goals of branding come down to —
- Customers having a well-established image of your organization and products
- Customers remaining loyal to your brand even if a competitor’s brand of products is launched
- Customers believe in your company’s goal and values
- Employees believe in the company that they work for
What is Brand Strategy?
When a company sets down a bunch of long-term goals to be achieved by the company, strategies are formed to increase the growth factor.
Among these strategies, the ones that connect to consumer needs and competitive environments are known as brand strategies.
A brand strategy is required in order to set forth guidelines to achieve success within an industry. Whether it’s through marketing or customer support, a brand strategy is about developing the best way to ensure you meet your customer needs through service, sales, support, communication, and value.
A research conducted by Industrial Marketing Management demonstrates how decision-making for consumers is made easy with effective branding.
Let’s say a consumer wanted to purchase a sports car, if there was a choice between Mercedes and another lesser known brand, the consumer would undoubtedly pick the Mercedes brand due to their effective global branding strategy.
Below you’ll learn about some of the most effective brand strategies and why you should add them to your business.
7 IMPORTANT REASONS FOR BRANDING IN BUSINESS
1. Creating Recognition
The foremost reason for branding is to create familiarity among the masses.
The moment you see an emblem that resembles a bitten apple, you’re sure the company is “Apple”.
Creating this kind of awareness through a simple logo is what branding is all about.
The main purpose of awareness is to launch your brand to your consumers and provide them with positive feelings about the company.
By mentioning your brand, people connect immediately.
This is made possible by marketing, business cards, brand logos, tabloid news, etc.
A study by Hanken School of Economics demonstrates that although branding has changed since the time it was invented, the main purpose of branding remains the same — creating an identity.
Branding was a major part of the ancient Egyptians through 2,700 BC who branded their livestock with hot irons.
Even then, the purpose of branding was to differentiate between cattle of one farmer to the other. Each branding had a unique symbol to represent the owner.
2. Better Profitability
Branding without a doubt increases the overall profits a company earns in an annual year. Consumers are likely to stay with your brand for its recognition and quality.
Hence, returning consumers will add profits with new consumers being added every year.
Eventually, your brand identity is all that is needed when launching products without any marketing required.
If Samsung were to launch a phone, the marketing team doesn’t necessarily need to double up efforts. Many of Samsung’s phones are sold out during the launch phase and customers are forced to wait for a new batch of phones to arrive.
In this case, marketing isn’t needed as the product is sold with just the brand name alone.
The customers follow you by choice and every time a new product is launched, a hype is created and there is a frenzy during the midnight hour when your product is launched.
The profits are generated based on your current supply.
Hence, branding is critical to building a better profitability in the long term over product campaigns.
3. Building Consumer Trust
Branding assists in adding credibility to your organization and to unite customers together with the brand.
Let’s demonstrate an example of how branding helps a customer choose a popular brand over an unpopular one — If you were out shopping for t-shirts at a local mall and witnessed a garage sale stating you’d receive 3 t-shirts for the price of one, you’d probably not pay much attention as it’s a common practice.
However, if a popular brand like Louis Vuitton were to offer 3 shirts for the price of one, you’d pinch yourself and wonder if you’re dreaming.
This is the effects of branding on customer interaction.
Branding is like a switch that turns on in our brain every time we stare at a popular brand name, we immediately submit our loyalty.
Hence, branding is extremely important for your business to build a long-term successful commitment to your consumers.
4. Protection against Competition
A company protects itself from competitors by gaining a loyal audience.
Once an audience has reason to believe in your brand and its products, a competitor won’t have the necessary tactics to take your customers away from you.
For example, there are two major kinds of smartphone users — Android users and iPhone users.
Both the customers are loyal to their brands and hence, no amount of competition can coax loyal consumers from changing their view about a brand.
This type of branding is immune to competition.
Similarly, if computer programmers prefer to use Mac over Windows, even if Microsoft were to release a new bug-free version of Windows for free such as Windows 10, not many Apple users would be switching over to Windows as they believe in their brand and hence, stick to their primary choice — Mac.
5. Franchise Opportunities
A brand helps to build various franchises and give their name to add value to a commodity.
By licensing and permitting a brand, they gain increased reputation and can cover a range of products without needing to manufacture any.
Take for example — You’d like to open a burger outlet, isn’t it better to just franchise an existing famous brand such as McDonald or Burger King? After all, no marketing is required the brand is already launched and all you need to do is acquire the required space to begin your franchise.
Branding works as a way to create value for your company, every time someone approaches your company and requests a license to franchise your unit, your branding has been successful.
However, it’s important to conduct background checks before you provide a permit for franchising your brand, a single negative incident tarnishes the brand image.
6. Promise of Deliverance
One of the best reasons for branding a company is that customers blindly believe in the products of their favorite brand.
Even if a product isn’t up to the mark during launch, the customer patiently waits for an update on the product or a response from the company.
The loyal consumer stays through the worst of times with the company and still continues to buy products as they believe that the upcoming product will fix the issues.
Major brands value their branding and hence, don’t make many mistakes. Consider this example — When the Galaxy Note 7 began to explode globally, the consumers faithfully waited for Samsung to make an announcement and fix the issue.
Once Samsung recalled all the Galaxy Note 7s and refunded the money to their customers, the customers once again queued up for the Galaxy Note 8 launch.
This proves that even after a disastrous event such as exploding smartphones, customers remain loyal to Samsung as they believe the company will deliver quality products as promised in due time.
7. Employing Top Talent
How many times have you heard a friend tell you that he now works at Google and you go “No way!”?
Working at a company that has a massive recognition comes with perks, the competition for applying at a top company is high and the type of employees that apply to major companies are among the most qualified employees in the world.
Branding inspires your employees to work hard and create a name for themselves in your company.
Your employees will feel important every time they mention your brand name to their social circle and to be the envy of their friends.
Hence, branding attracts the best recruits at your doorsteps and you don’t even need to openly advertise your requirements, your brand is enough for recruits to understand the type of value the company requires.
5 STRATEGIES FOR EFFECTIVE BRANDING
1. Expose your Brand
The very first thing you should do is to define your brand and market it to your audience.
After all, you want your consumers to know what your brand stands for and what your products are about.
Ensure your marketing ads aren’t filled with false promises and your product delivers on its promises. Customers don’t tend to respond well to back-end sales when they discover a certain brand is only out to get their money.
For example — If you are launching a brand of jackets, it’s necessary to create user awareness that your jackets don’t use animal leather and that they are completely against the killing of animals.
In this way, people will appreciate your social awareness and will believe in your brand.
2. Personalize Products
Effective branding requires you to spend time and personalize products from the mainstream ones. This helps you attract consumers that find your products to be unique.
USP or “Unique Selling Proposition” is the highlight of branding. With the right USP for your product, you create effective branding strategies targeted at the audience to buy your products.
Personalizing your products means giving them their own unique identity.
Don’t make the mistake of launching products that are similar to each other.
You need to engage with the audience and make them feel like the king when choosing between your products. When customers spend time interacting with your products, the brand strategy is a success.
3. Differentiate Your Brand
If you were to place 99 red colored buttons aligned with 1 green colored button in the center, your attention would be attracted to the green colored button every time. Although all 100 buttons are of the same material, a simple color change has led to an attraction.
Branding works similarly, even though your product is similar to your competitors, it’s important to stand out and differentiate your products to attract your audience.
Spend time in creating logos for your company, choose the colors, the emblem, etc. all these are important for an effective brand strategy to be distinct from your competitors.
4. Aim for Continuous Innovation
Innovation is what creates demand for brands. Brands such as Nokia and Samsung are no doubt competitors but they release unique looking phones every year with new technologies embedded into their devices.
What sets their devices apart is the fact that each of them tends to outdo the other by including various technologies and attracting customers to their products.
An example would be if Nokia were to implement a 16mp camera in their smartphone, then Samsung would try to launch a 20mp smartphone in the coming few months to attract customers.
Your products need to be constantly innovated in order to stay relevant and fresh to consumers.
5. Always Review Your Brand
Even if you’ve got a successful brand, it’s important to stop and analyze the journey. It’s necessary to check the flaws and negative feedback provided by customers on where the company should improve to build a better brand image.
Don’t be carried away by success, it’s important to pause and reflect back to the feedback that your consumers provide.
Customer experience is the most important brand strategy in your arsenal.
If you can cater to their demands and make the necessary changes to your products, your customers will remain a lifelong part of your brand.
IN SHORT: BRANDING ISN’T JUST ABOUT USER AWARENESS
Surely, branding isn’t just limited to how much a user knows about a product, the consumer must also believe in the goal of the company.
Apple, for example, has loyal customers that line up for days outside retail stores before the launch of their product.
Do these consumers actually think the product is great just by specifications alone?
They believe Apple will never release a bad product and that they should be first in line to acquire it.
That’s what effective branding creates.