Whether you're shopping for a new laptop, or out getting a couple rolls of toilet paper and a bag of chips for poker night, you're overwhelmed with choices. Everything from cheap store knock offs to full big name brands. These things are all around us, and they influence us a lot more subtly than you think. Welcome back to #TechTuesday, where we want to talk about how building a brand can take your company to the next level.
What's in a name?
A brand is more than just a fancy logo, more than a reputable name; it's a combination of all the factors that go into the quality of a product or a service. It is customer service, it is unique quality, it is a guarantee to your customers that you will produce nothing but the best of what they have come to expect for supporting you. Branding is without question one of the most valuable assets to any company, and doubly so for a small business. It is the very first thing a customer will encounter when they come to you, and it is the last connection that will carry on their opinion long after your exchange.
All Around Us
When you go shopping, you may not always realize just how much it is ingrained in you to look for certain brands. For example, when you're shopping for a new phone, what immediately comes to mind? Many of our readers would think Apple and iPhone. Others will immediately jump to Android and Samsung. Now, correlating along those two, the first group will also think of two additional qualities immediately after; white and expensive. The second group will think blue and explosion.
So let's break this down a bit. Apple creates the iPhone series of phones, all of which run a streamlined white color and are known for their extravagant pricing, easily cracked screens, and integration into the iCloud system developed by the company. No matter what the price, and no matter how tiny the upgrade, many Apple supporters will often jump to that next upgraded version a mere few months after the last one. Why? Well, clever marketing and targeted advertisement play a great part in it. But above all, Apple is a master at branding. They have created a brand that everybody in the world, whether they are a customer or not, will recognize instantly. They have built a reputation based on the streamlined consistency of their devices, always bearing the same schema in color and operating system that their customers have come to expect.
Now for Samsung, I mentioned two words that seemed to stand out a bit more vaguely than one might expect. Samsung is known in two markets these days, which are the smartphone and television markets primarily. Blue is the theme of their phones, often sporting a dark blue backing with the rich blue coloring of the Samsung logo printed on it. With this first bit alone, combined with the massive quality of their electronics that they release, Samsung has crafted a brand that speaks for itself; Quality above all. When you shop for a TV and you want to get the best of the best, almost every salesman will tell you to go for the Samsung without even thinking about it. Another great example of good branding. But I also mentioned explosions, right? Well, that's, our counterexample here. With the most recent Samsung phone, there was quite the media blowup (no pun intended...probably) over the many reports of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phone catching fire and exploding. Now, for a company whose brand proclaims their care for quality above all, you can understand how this could be lethal toward their income even more than just the defects of the devices alone, right?
You see, Apple has established itself as an expensive and delicate piece of equipment. They may not release hardware that is as up to date in some aspects or functions as some providers, but what they did establish was something that was easy to use, and known to break easy. If you dropped your iPhone and it cracked, you wouldn't be surprised; Its just an Apple. But if you charged your Samsung and it exploded, you'd be appalled! Its a Samsung device, its supposed to be top of the line! That's the beauty of branding. By creating this image for your company, you create a standard that spreads like a wildfire. Its how brand loyalty is born. Naturally, we tend toward certain brands because of our experiences with them. In a past article, we wrote about laptops and I mentioned a preference for the manufacturer ASUS, due to my positive experiences with them. However I would also mention my avoidance of Dell, due to my poor experiences with their brand.
When you brand something, you give it value. A dollar is branding in its most basic. Nothing more than a piece of cloth paper with some artwork on it, but it is recognized worldwide as something with a solid, inarguable value. It is backed by its manufacturer, the United States of America. While there are many other forms of currency in the world, I would rather have 10 US Dollars in my pocket here today than I would 10 Pesos, because the brand that has been built around them has given them a value that I have come to appreciate and follow (also, pesos apparently are not accepted in most American stores, so don't try that.).
How Does It Help Me?
You see, in a world where the market has grown both online and offline, every business needs a brand that helps it stand out. Some simply have poor branding. A badly drawn logo, poor customer service, or simply poor quality of product. Bad branding means bad turnaround, and can lead then to a bad reputation. By developing a great brand to base your company around, you're growing your business while establishing a consumer base that will be loyal to you. You're creating free advertising by those customers now praising you to their friends. Above all, you're making yourself stand out above the competition, by giving yourself a unique identity that is recognizable. You establish yourself with a strong idea, and give yourself a chance to be creative with it in a way that only you can.
We as a culture have learned to trust brands. Advil, Coca Cola, Apple, these are all recognizable names that ring familiar to us. When we purchase from them, we know exactly what we're going to get out of it. We're willing to spend that extra money just to have that logo there, that seal of quality. A good brand means your customers would do the very same.