What is a brand and why is it important?

Someone asked me today, “What exactly is a brand?”. Because of the sector I work in, and I do love a good brand, this question kind of caught me. It got me thinking about the amount of small businesses and start-ups out there who don’t actually know what a brand is, especially the importance of it. As small business owners we wear so many hats, sales, marketing, social media, accounts, customer services, and not forgetting doing the job that we all actually got into business to do. Which brought me to writing this.

So, your brand is the way you visually present your business to your client base and the tone of voice in which you use to communicate with it.

Now before we go any further, we hear the words brand and branding used in the same context pretty often, but in actual fact they are two very different things;

  • Your brand (or brand identity or visual identity, all the same thing), is the way in which you present your business to the world. Name, logo, colours, images, fonts, tagline, the tone of voice you use to speak to your audience
  • Branding is what gives your business meaning, it’s values, it’s audiences, its reason for existing, it’s all about managing the perception people have of your business.

The easiest way I’ve ever heard anyone explain the difference between the two is;

Think of brand and branding as you, as a person, your brand is your ego, the way you present yourself to the world, and branding is your DNA, everything you’re made up of.

Your brand (and branding), are ever evolving mechanics of your business, they develop and strengthen over time, as your business grows. Having a strong visual brand identity, or at the very least strong elements to build upon, from the start can set you apart from your competitors. 

Your brand reaches every one of your customer touch points, email, social, events, networking advertising, marketing, and so on. The more a person sees something the more they recognise it, so the more people see your brand the more they will recognise your business, meaning you will be at the front of their mind when they think of your area of expertise, which is exactly where we want to be.

For example, you have two bakers, in the same street, selling exactly the same cakes, to exactly the same customer base.

  • Business number one has no logo, no tagline and uses random colours, random shapes and random pictures of cakes on their flyers, social media and adverts. They use poor or weak designs that aren’t well thought out and look very DIY.
  • Business number two has a logo, a tagline (maybe something like cakes by bakes, bakes being the name of the business), they use the same colours, shapes and same style of pictures (e.g. a photo of a mouth watering cake, on its own, on a plain background), they also use well thought out designs that look professional.

Now imagine yourself walking down a street and being handed two flyers, the first from business one and the second from business two.

Later that week, as you are scrolling through social media, you come across two different posts for bakers in the area, the first from business one, using different colours, a different style of photos and different shapes and fonts than they used on their flyer. The second from business two, using exactly the same logo, colours, style of images and shapes they used on their flyer.

And then a few days later you come across two adverts, first from business one (again very random) and the second from business two (again exactly the same theme as the flyer and social media post).

You are then walking down that street and feel like a sweet treat, you come across two bakers do you recognise either of them?

Or a few days after that someone asks if you know of any good bakers in the area, which comes to mind? The one who has used random colours, poor design and random images at every visual point of contact with you, who you can’t quite remember the name of, or the one which has been consistent is its use of logo, colour, image, and message?

Your brand reaches every one of your customer touch points, it builds up recognition and trust among your existing and new clients, and establishes an emotional connection between your audience and your business. Without a strong brand it’s as if you are basically reintroducing yourself every time you meet that same person, because they don’t recognise you.

Small businesses and start-ups often overlook the importance of brand. In fact it’s the single most important investment you can make in your business. A well branded business will always entice more interest than a poorly branded business.

Think Nike, Apple, Disney, Amazon, Starbucks. They were all start-ups and small businesses at one point, but the one thing each of them have in common is that they all recognised the importance of brand, and branding.

If you want to chat further, or are looking for advice, please get in touch, I would love to chat with you about your business and your goals.


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