Branding and How to Use it to Differentiate Your Business in the Marketplace

If you started your business prior to the digital age, you wouldn’t have worried about branding so much. But in today’s internet world, where you have more competitors than you can ever keep track of, it is important that you differentiate your business from those of your competitors through branding.

According to Wikipedia, branding is a set of marketing and communication methods that help to distinguish a company or products from competitors, aiming to create a lasting impression in the minds of customers.

The key components that form a brand’s toolbox include a brand’s identity, brand communication (such as by logos and trademarks), brand awareness, brand loyalty, and various branding (brand management) strategies.

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Branding can be expensive especially if you are still trying to gain your footing as an entrepreneur, but it is also a necessity such that if ignored can lead to grave consequences like consumers not reckoning with your business or even losing customers to competitors. Not good, right?

The good news, however, is that branding does not necessarily have to be expensive to the point of breaking the bank. There are many components of branding that involves little to no money which you can take advantage of to help you get started.

Understanding What Branding is

Perhaps you’ve learned from other sources over time that branding is simply about logos or branded materials like stickers, pens, lanyards, packaging, etc, it’s time to dive deeper so you can understand what branding truly is. Branding is beyond physical things. It is a combination of the things that are seen and things unseen.

Branding extends from the physical into the emotional.

Seun Akinlotan

For instance, if you have a tailoring business and you spend money on making your shop appealing, but on the other hand, you are not intentional about how you deliver to and serve your customers, it won’t be long before you start observing that your business, though attracts lots of lead and even customers, but once they “experience” your brand, they do not tend to come back.

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From the time a customer hears about your business, to doing business with you to the point of deciding to become a repeat customer or not, branding has a huge role to play. Branding starts the moment someone first interacts with your business.

It could be at a networking event where you introduced yourself or shared your business cards, it could be when you met that person on the plane or even it could be the way you talked passionately about your business on social media.

The point is when someone hears about your business, an impression is formed. Then, when that person takes the extra step of visiting your website or checking your social media accounts, the impression begins to take shape even further.

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By the time that person finally decides to do business with you, the impression the person has of you and your business is fully formed. Each step or action you take help people to form an impression about your business.

Differentiating Your Business Through Branding

Unless you live and operate from mars, you would always have more competitors than you can keep track of. This gives consumers more than enough choices for people to do business with. If your business is just one among the rest, then you risk running a brand that’s not profitable.

However, if you have something or a few things that differentiate your brand from other similar ones then you are increasing your chances of success.

This is where branding comes in because if you are intentional about it, helps to differentiate your business from others. You can differentiate your business by paying attention to the answers you give to the following questions.

Does your logo reflect intentionality?

What type of raw materials do you use in making your products?

As per the services you provide, are you truly the best in the marketplace?

How fast do you respond to emails?

How do you start a sales call?

How do you make customers feel before, during and after purchase?

How do you react to customer complaints?

What is your return policy?

How do you deal with irate customers?

What type of responses do you give after people make inquiries? How do you start your sales call?

What type of outfits do you wear to networking events?

What’s the look and feel of your social media pages for business?

How much attention do you pay to details?

These questions and many more and the type of responses you give to them form a base for the emotional aspect of your branding.

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As per the physical aspect of your branding, these include your logos, website, type of furniture in your office space, branded items, products, or any other thing you need to spend money on. This can be overwhelming especially if you are short of funds. The key, however, is to set a goal and implement things in batches. Your business does not have to be “branded” overnight but you can make a list of the items you believe you need and then commit to implementing them in phases.

Also, remember that the physical and the emotional aspect of branding work hand-in-hand. However, if you are cash-strapped, you can turn your focus to the emotional part until you are able to afford the physical part. Why? The emotional aspect has a multiplier effect on the experience a customer has with your business. A customer can forget what your branded items look like but would never forget how much you care or make them feel.

Invest in branding today, differentiate your business and build a profitable long-lasting brand tomorrow!

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