We’ve worked with hundreds of small business owners and whenever branding is mentioned, the immediate reaction we receive is “That’s just for corporates isn’t it?”
We suspect this is down to a fundamental misunderstanding of what branding actually is and what benefits effective branding can deliver to a small business. Branding is not just for the Apple’s and Nike’s or this world – any size of business can reap huge benefits from an effective brand.
But What Exactly is Branding?
A brand is not simply a logo – it’s a consistent, sometimes intangible, statement about the core values of your business. It defines your audience and it defines your message to that audience. From a business card to your website and every touch-point in-between, your brand should be consistent and distinctive.
A brand should utilise very specific colours, typography, language and imagery, all combined to create an emotional connection between your business and your target audience. We appreciate this might sound like marketing ‘hot air’ but once you understand the benefits of an effective brand, it very quickly becomes apparent why it’s such a crucial part of the whole marketing jigsaw.
If you look at a real-world example, why are consumers prepared to pay a premium for Apple products when there are cheaper products with similar specification available? This is the power of branding – consumers are happy to pay a premium price for a product or service because they’re buying with their heart as much as their head.
What Are The Benefits For Branding a Small Business?
There are two very good reasons why every small business and start-ups should really take branding seriously…
PERCEPTION OF PRODUCT/SERVICE VALUE
Every interaction your business has with your prospective customers will build-up a perception of your business in their mind. From the styling of your business card to your website – all these individual elements create an impression, good or bad.
Now if that perception is that your business is cheap, or lacks professionalism, it doesn’t matter how good your products or services are, the consumer will have already determined in their own mind what the value is to them. If something looks ‘cheap’ then that’s the value your prospective customers will place on your goods or services.
However, if all your branding is consistent and looks polished and professional, the perception is positive. The expectations levels are raised and so is anticipated value of your products and services.
If you think about it, how many businesses have you heard of that deliver really poor products or services but still manage to attract new customers? The irony is that a good business with a poor brand is likely to be less successful in the short to medium term than a poor business with a good brand.
ADDING VALUE TO YOUR BUSINESS
The vast majority of people start a business with a view that one day, it will become a saleable asset that could help them retire in comfort long before they officially reach pensionable age. So your retirement planning really should start the same day your business starts, not a few years before you want to retire. And one of the most valuable assets any business can own is a strong brand.
Did you know for example, that a McDonalds franchise cost around £250,000? That’s a lot of burgers to be sold before you see any profit. Yet that doesn’t stop thousands of people across the world buying a McDonalds franchise every year.
So why would somebody pay £250,000 when they could set-up their own burger restaurant for about a third of that cost? It’s because they’re buying into a global brand that attracts customers who know and trust the brand. The premium price is paid to piggy-back the brand name of McDonalds.
Patently there is a lot more to McDonalds franchise than just the brand but it is arguably one of the most valued elements of their franchise. You could use all their systems, products and procedures but with a different name above the door and it’s unlikely to be anywhere near as successful.
So if you’re planning to sell your business one day, a large part of it’s value will be determined by the trust consumers have in the brand. A business with an established, recognisable, trustworthy brand is going to be worth considerably more than a business that has little or no brand appeal.
Branding Sounds Like a Great Idea, But is it Expensive?
In a word, ‘no’.
You’ve probably heard stories of big corporations paying hundreds of thousands of pounds to Branding Agencies for a re-brand. To be frank, in many instances these astronomical sums are a bit like the Emperor’s New Clothes; nobody can see the value other than the Client.
And even after employing these so-called Branding Experts, it’s no guarantee that the outcome will business will benefit from a re-brand as Royal Mail discovered when their ill-fated re-brand to Consignia turned into a PR disaster.
So spending a huge amount of money is no guarantee of success so we would never recommend spending stupid amounts of money on developing a great brand. And thankfully, we offer branding solutions starting from as little as £295.00 which includes…
- Investigating your market
- Analysing your competitors
- Identifying suitable brand name opportunities
- Researching domain name availability (and checking against conflicts)
- Social media checks (to ensure your new brand is not in use)
- The actual brand and logo design
If you’re thinking of starting a business or already run a business where you think a stronger brand could be of benefit, why not give us a call on 01252 416 222 or get in touch via our contact form.