Branding is one of those sly little tactics companies use to seduce customers. Actually, it’s not sly. A brand image is a necessity. This is how you bond with customers and build lasting relationships.
In our line of work, we come across many small business owners that are sceptical about branding. To a degree, this view is understandable. Many small business owners do not feel as though they can justify the expense for branding.
However, our experience of developing brand images gives us an insight business owners don’t always have. Branding pays for itself. It is through your brand image that you draw a line under what your business is about so your customers know you are right for them.
What is brand image?
A brand image is the perception you want to give customers about your business. There is an element of courage required as you need to define your target audience and then communicate effectively with them.
But essentially, your customers need to feel an emotional bond with your business. They need to feel your business fits their ideals and life style choices and that you can provide benefits that will make their life a little bit better.
You also want your customers to know which of their friends or work colleagues will appreciate your products and services. Word of mouth advertising still has the most pulling power and ideally you want to overhear a conversation that goes something along the lines of: “Ooh, do you know who will like this place…”
Developing a brand image
The first rule of developing a brand is to determine what your clients want. So write out a list. The first item on your list should be trust. The second should be experience.
Consumers are more inclined to purchase from brands they trust and if they enjoy the experience they are more likely to return. This is where the bonding process we touched on earlier comes into play.
A brand image goes beyond products and services. It should encompass your entire business including the colour scheme, pricing, messaging, sales and everything in between.
You therefore need to be clear about who your audience is, what you want to say to them and how you should say it. Developing a brand personality in your online voice and offline appearance has an important role to play in defining your brand image.
Communicating your message
Communication in the modern world comes in various forms. Online platforms such as websites, social media platforms, industry magazines, review sites, mobile apps, SMS, landing pages, face-to-face interactions etc all contribute to your brand image.
You need to be clear about how you want customers to perceive your brand image as every communication shapes their view of you. Therefore, your brand image should always be reinforced so that opinions about you do not change. Remember the trust factor?
You have more to gain by developing a brand image than you have to lose. If you haven’t already considered branding or you’re not sure where to start, get some help from branding experts.