Why is branding important?
Working on your branding means establishing desired perception.
Perception is our interpretation of the world. We humans make decisions based on perceptions. Because if we don't, we will be way too slow in making any type of daily decisions. As a result, 95% of the decisions we make are done by our subconscious mind. By the time we think our conscious mind made a decision, our unconscious mind made that decision 7 seconds prior. Apparently, that is lifetime for our brain activity. David Eagleman, a neuroscientist, tell interesting stories about how our human brain works in his fascinating books, Incognito and Livewired, by the way, in case you're interested.
Features and benefits help back up the decision already made. Though the initial decision (made by subconscious mind) is heavily, mostly influenced by how your brand makes your target audience feel.
The business implication of all of these is that if you have a strong brand, you will have a lower customer acquisition cost and increased customer lifetime value. According to an HBR article entitled, The New Science of Customer Emotions, your customer lifetime value is 52% higher when your customers feel fully connected and satisfied and able to perceive brand differentiation. The baseline is highly satisfied but not fully connected customers. When your customers are fully and emotionally connected with your brand, their value to your business is 52% higher.
And besides all of these sciences and research, as a CEO, founder, or business owner, don't you want to have a strong brand personality for your own business? Just the way you have a strong sense of who you are as an individual? I do. It is truly exciting to see your brand comes to life and matures.
4 Steps to Strengthen Your Brand
Have a look at the first four basic steps to strengthen your brand. One thing to note is that branding is not a 'one-and-done' exercise but an ongoing activity and investment. The fact that you went through a branding exercise before doesn't mean that you don't need to re-visit this every again. Your brand should evolve as your business evolves.
Step 1. Self awareness: know your core competencies.
First thing's first. We need to know ourselves and our business. What do we do? What are our core strengths? When we aren't clear on who we are, we confuse people. Confused minds don't make decisions. Clear minds do.
Some of the key things to consider include:
What are your key achievements so far that can create credibility and trust? Testimonials? Certifications? Awards? Case studies?
What do you do better than your competitors? Quality? Speed? Flexibility? Price? Patent?
Step 2. Define your target audience and understand their problems.
What problems do our core competencies solve? And for whom? Knowledge of who we are (the first step mentioned above) is important, but without knowing how that interacts with the outer world (i.e. the market), you can go only so far. Understanding the intersection creates your super power.
When it comes to defining your target audience, here are some of the points of consideration:
For B2B organizations: Geographic locations, industries, job functions (departments and seniority), size of companies, revenue, etc.
For B2C organizations: Age, family status, education background, income level, location, previous purchase history and habits, etc.
Step 3. Identify the emotions your brand should evoke in your target audience.
Let's go back to how humans make decisions. We make decisions based on perceptions. Our subconscious mind is responsible for 95% of the decisions we make. This means knowing and intentionally influencing how our brand makes our target audience feel the second they interact with it is the key.
For example, if you are a consulting company, the emotion you want your target audience to feel when they interact with your brand may be "confidence". If you are a massage therapist, it may be "relaxed".
The exercise you do for the first and second steps help you with the third step. So I recommend going through these steps in order.
Step 4. Create your brand purpose statement.
These three steps above will help you identify your organization's "why", the true reasons for its existence. Write that down. That is your brand purpose statement. In his New York Times best selling book, Start with Why, Simon Sinek emphasizes the importance of knowing your why. Why? Because people buy from your "why". Knowing your why also helps you build a sticky, emotional connection with your customers. As discussed above, customers who are emotionally connected to your brand are 52% more valuable on average than those who are just highly satisfied with your brand.
Here are brand purpose statement examples that can inspire you to come up with your own:
Nike: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. If you have a body, you are an athlete.”
Walmart: “Saving people money so they can live better.”
Amazon: "To offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience."
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Branding is the foundation of the 6PM (6-Pillar Marketing) Framework
The 6PM (6-Pillar Marketing) Framework is a blueprint for your business's marketing. It visually presents six key aspects of marketing:
Establishing desired perception
Attracting your target audience
Engaging your attracted audience
Delighting your engaged audience
Growing with your delighted audience
Analyzing your data and optimizing
Branding is the first pillar of the 6PM Framework. It is the foundation of everything you do in marketing.