Nowadays, the small business eco-system is a very rich one, brimming with new and established entities that are looking for ways to build and protect their reputations. Whether you operate on a local or a global scale, chances are that you’re dealing with a vast competition, and that it’s quite a challenge to position yourself as an authority in your industry, to hire the finest talent, and to retain the loyalty of your customers.
These same businesses will often say that focusing on all of the mentioned issues is precisely what’s preventing them from devoting time, effort, and money to their branding efforts. Coincidentally, branding is the only solution for all the listed problems.
Even if all you’re dealing with right now is smooth sailing towards steady growth, branding is the only possible answer to all current and future conundrums. Establishing your identity is by far the most effective and only lasting way to preserve your presence in the market. Here are a few further reasons that will nudge you in the direction of branding your small business.
Your brand draws talent
Today’s hiring space looks nothing like that of the past. In fact, some of the younger, predominant generations in the world now take entirely different factors into account when choosing their employer. Without the pressure of the nine-to-five cubicle and the single occupation for the rest of their time on Earth, almost 9 out of 10 Millennials would gladly choose to work for a brand that embodies the values they stand for than a business that pays better. Simply put, employer branding is as important as ever.
When you’re just another office in a faceless building and you sell yet another nameless product on a shelf where there are a dozen others like you, your chances of hiring the most talented experts in your field are diminished. Your competitors will snag them sooner or later, with or without the offer that comes with a greater salary, because their brand is what will tip the scales.
The key to financial superiority
Small business is by no means limited to small earnings. That said, many small business owners rush into their branding efforts without a well-developed financial strategy and a pre-determined budget for their branding needs. This, in turn, leads to further financial turmoil and can jeopardize their internal operations, their quality of service, and their reputation. Before you rush into any further development, make sure that you have a small business finance solution for your brand, one that will enable you to fund all of your day-to-day operations, and leave enough room for brand development.
With a stable branding strategy in place, you will further ensure greater stability of your business in the market. A brand brings with itself a slew of financial perks, not only because brands often charge higher prices for the brand name that comes with the service or product, but because greater recognition (to which we’ll get in a minute) and authority transform your brand into a more desirable entity in the market, no matter the competition.
Brand in the service of recognition
Being everywhere is no longer the equivalent of being successful. That said, no number of paid ads and sponsored posts can buy the recognition of any real brand in your niche. Although such marketing efforts do help disseminate your brand properly across various channels, building a brand first means that you’ll have unique values and traits to present to the world in a memorable way.
It’s easy for your logo or your acronym to be recognizable within the context of your website or your social media pages, but once you build a brand around intangible values and achievements, suddenly people will recognize your brand even outside of its “native” context. Recognition is the very first step towards loyalty, hence the need to create positive, lasting associations between your business and your audience through your brand identity.
Brand transforms a product into a lifestyle
What may have started as an idea to solve a problem common among your audience can actually become an entire mindset and a lifestyle. Much like owning an iPhone is not a matter of having a device with which to communicate but a matter of brand preference, your brand identity hides its own unique values and embeds itself into your customers’ lifestyle.
With a brand, a toothbrush made of bamboo becomes a statement that you’re an eco-conscious buyer that will support exclusively green brands. In the same manner, a biscuit becomes a nation’s staple, such as Tim Tams, and a soda becomes a global phenomenon, such as Coca Cola. This level of brand development ultimately helps you differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Your identity earns loyalty
Finally, branding is the only true way to earn customer loyalty. Recognition may be the first step, but once you actually live up to, or better yet, exceed your customers’ expectations with your product and service, you will slowly turn them into return buyers, and then into brand ambassadors.
Loyalty then fuels word of mouth marketing among your customers, and your image revolves around that of trust and unique values you’re known for.
While global businesses have earned their global image thanks to branding, many small business owners forget about that single, yet powerful step on the road to greatness. When the time comes to market your business and to let the world know what you can do to make a difference, remember to do so by taking a stand – one that will define your brand identity and help you become the leader in your industry no matter how many businesses join the game.
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Keith Coppersmith is a business and marketing expert who has experienced both the rise and fall of many businesses. As a regular contributor at BizzmarkBlog, he enjoys writing and providing insight into the marketing industry based on both practice and theory.