A question I hear all the time “Is a brand more than just a logo then?” when I’m exploring brand consultations with new clients. The common misconception that branding is purely about aesthetics exists very much in the small business world. However, the reality is that your brand is so much more than a logo, it is the overall emotional connection that is associated with your business therefore shapes the overall identity of how your company is perceived, who buys from it and who doesn’t buy from it.
To ignore your brand is like having a child and expecting them not to have any personality – they are going to have one anyway so its best to understand how branding really works and look to positively shape it to support your overall business goals.
What constitutes a brand?
The best way to describe a brand is to use a case study – and not one that you are probably expecting. The Kardashian family have built up a multi-billion dollar brand based on the emotional connection that their audience has with them. Their brand has so much power that whatever business venture they go into – be it make up, clothing lines, perfume, fitness campaigns or whatever – they are guaranteed a following and sales. Why? Because people perceive that by buying from their brand, they will get a slice of that lifestyle and its what drives people to buy again and again. Their brand is synonymous with style, fashion, wealth and beauty (whether you agree or disagree with this actually shows you the power of perception!).
Your business is the physical manifestation of what you sell – your product, services, equipment and property. Your brand is the intangible connection that people have to identify and connect with a company. Have a think about your business, what is it synonymous with? Who does it attract? Is this in line with what you want? If you’ve answered no, or don’t know to these questions then it could be time you started to think beyond what your business does and think about what impact your brand has in the world.
Is branding important for small businesses?
In Jack Stewards Ultimate list of Branding Statistics for 2022 a key point he emphasized was that experts believe branding will play a key role in the recovery of the corporate world in response to the Covid 19 pandemic. I mean that sounds pretty official right? But does “corporate world” extend to small businesses too? I think it does and actually branding becomes even more important for small businesses when you consider what they are up against with giant corporate competitors. A solopreneur that sells giraffe mugs for example cannot rely on Google to show her products when someone searches for giraffe mugs because the results will be awash with the big conglomerates such as Etsy and Amazon. By investing in establishing her brand, building its identity and position in the market she will get branded search terms which she can own in the search engine results pages. By not having an established brand small business owners face forever being invisible – or pursuing an online visibility strategy that gets them nowhere.
How to define your brand (Psst… its more than just a logo!)
So we have established that a brand is much more than just a logo, we’ve explored the importance of branding for small businesses, what you need to think about now is defining your brand and auditing your current position for if you are achieving what you want your brand to achieve. Broadly your brand can be defined by two things:
- Website Design
- Tone of voice
- Daily Activities
How your brand is presented has a profound effect on the perception of your business. From the choice of colours used in your presentation material to the choice of packaging if you are a product based business; the visual presentation of your brand will determine the type of people you attract, the prices they will be prepared to pay and the behaviour / expectation of service.
case study: B&M vs. The white company
Both of these businesses sell homewares, furniture and lifestyle products. Both of these businesses broadly target Mums. And there the similarities end. B+M’s branding is very value led. Bright brash colours, deal led graphics, imagery overlaid with price messaging. The White Company on the other hand lead with a luxury lifestyle aesthetic. Clean, crisps, abundant. There are carefully created images and videos used with pricing information very discreet in the presentation. Packaging is luxe compared to the carrier bags from B+M and the checkout experience includes wrapping items in branded tissue rather than “bring your own bags”.
The moral of the study? Your brand should appeal to your ideal client preferences. If you want your brand to be synonymous with luxury and attract high end customers, your visuals should represent that. And its not just your packaging or logo choice – this extends to your overall online presence. Social media, website, emails too – you should be looking to create an instantly recognizable reaction to your business with your branding. This will keep people engaged and connected to your brand wherever they are or however they interact with it.
Brand behaviour is just as important as aesthetics
The way your business behaves and how you behave in your business has just as much impact – if not MORE impact on your branding than pure aesthetics.
Your brands vision and values send signals to potential customers about the morals and ethics of your organization, who you hang out with and work with speaks volumes about your brand, and your activities to conduct business are what have a legacy. Let’s think about it using Nike as an example…
Nike are synonymous with empowering people to “just do it” inclusive sports for all. Quality apparel products that enable people to get active without huge price tags. They have slick branding, action led content and imagery and an industrial vibe physical presence to go with the “no messing” brand positioning. However, they have been plagued by their ethical practices (or unethical I should say) when it comes to manufacturing of their products. This misalignment to their brand is one they are continuously trying to shake off – and they have millions of dollars to throw in the positive PR ring. Think what the impact of a misalignment could be to a small business owner like yourself?
How your business behaves is fundamental to how people will perceive you. For example, a brand extolling family values using lots of profanity in its messaging will probably miss out on really connecting with their ideal clients. A service based business owner extolling the virtues of openness and transparency while using underhand techniques to get clients to sign up is just another example.
Your brands voice, its actions and its treatment of the world it operates in are what create legacy and impact – which if done right create rating fans for your business, generates word of mouth endorsement which feeds branded searches, helping you to stand out from your competitors.
In a Nutshell:
- Branding is so much more than a logo.
- The way your business behaves has as much impact on your branding as your aesthetic choices.
- Brand management and developing your brand should be high on your agenda as a business owner.
- Branded search is a key was of standing out from the competition as a small business owner.
- Invest time into really thinking about your brand and what impact you are looking to create.
If you are interested in exploring branding for your business that goes beyond a pretty mood board and takes a holistic, value driven approach then why not get in touch to arrange a consultation? We can talk about where you are, where you want to get to and the impact you are creating with your business.
Pamela Rae-Welsh is the founder of Worsley Creative, an online visibility specialist studio that supports small business owners with creating an online presence that allows them to achieve their goals and attract their dream clients.