A strong brand has leverage
A powerful brand is something that people commonly substitute it as a noun. Its name stands for something for millions of people. It is no longer just a generic product, it has been hyper-augmented and can stand on its own.
It is the most powerful thing that can happen to a brand. It is indeed the final level of marketing.
“I’m heading to the 7/11 to buy some bread.”
“Let me Google this”
“This is a black iPhone.”
“Pass me the Kleenex.”
A powerful brand is a word that is widely remembered and likely recalled by consumers. And that it stands for something in the market.
Most businesses rely on their brands for success. At least the top companies do. Without a brand that means something, nobody will purchase anything long term.
Most businesses still operate without a proper name. And it seems to work. If you have a single location, it can work. If you run a barbershop and name it “222 Barber”. And you are situated in some mall, you will still get business even though you have no branding.
Why is this so? You are operating in a small local area, your main customers that know you live there, and they remember you because you are “that barbershop beside the grocery shop at level 2”.
Customers refer to your business by its physical location relative to the place they usually go.
But because of your lack of branding, you are forever stuck there in that mall.
A business with no branding cannot expand
A few kilometers away from your area and nobody knows you. Your success is hyper-local, which means only the local residents that stay there do business with you.
And they do business with you because it is convenient, not because of your brand. Since you had no brand equity, your business is limited to your location.
With a brand, you have a license to expand. You can sell anywhere because people know you!
The Coca-Colas of the world can manufacture and sell anywhere, they are not bounded by location! And the only thing that makes them boundless is the power of a worldwide brand!
There is almost no international or national business that is built without a brand, which means they are literally unknown. It is just not possible.
Like I said in my previous example, a brand with a generic name and no branding is forever stuck to its current physical location.
The moment it steps out of their own circle, they are literally not known.
The biggest businesses rely on strong, powerful brands
These are the Proctor & Gamble’s, the Colgate-Palmolive’s, the Unilever’s of the world.
Businesses that do not invest in their brand equity are forever confined to their little space.
There are many ways to do branding. But it requires the owner’s investment in terms of time, effort and money.
As long as the business is alive, it should invest in its own branding. It is their lifeline and ticket to compete in the jungle of businesses.
One of the ways to do that is to get your name out there to millions consistently, and remind them of what you do. Remind them what you stand for!
Get exposed to the market, and re-exposed again and again, until it is literally ingrained in the consumers’ minds.
The branding message should be clear and concise. You should be able to describe yourself in 1 sentence, or even better, 1 phrase. Some of the top businesses; 1 word.
If you can do this, consistency is not an issue. You are going to be remembered if you keep delivering the standards and selling the same thing.
The key is to do the same thing, over and over again.
So back to the question: do businesses need branding?
No, if you intend to operate in one location for the rest of your life. If you intend to be handicapped. And if you intend to only do business with the small population of local customers.
And yes, if you said ‘Hell no’ to the above.
If you do dry-cleaning, you need a name and a brand that stands for the best and most reliable dry-cleaning service in the world. That’s a suggestion.
Likewise, if you own a barbershop, you want to be known as ‘The Barbershop’ to visit and not ‘222 barber’. This way you can attract long lines of customers and even get the best barbers working for you.
The power of perception
A brand is essentially just a name. A name that stands for something in the market. The public gives it value, and however much value really depends on how you handle your marketing and publicity. An optimal mix of two backed with consistency is what creates a monster, global brand.
And whatever attributes attached to the name, be it superior service, a superior product, effectiveness, safety, luxury, or technology. And that is up to you to define where to drive your business focus towards. In short, it has to be perceived for being something.
If you are a business owner you should start thinking about your brand equity.
As soon as you understand branding like a powerful lever that gives you leverage and not a liability, greatness shall befall upon your business when you decide to take solid action towards your branding!
Drop the seed of branding into your business, and just like the little acorn, it is bound to grow into a powerful oak tree.
Your business is waiting for you. To put in effort so as to reap the rewards when the time comes. And not watch back in regret of the work you did not do.
But it will take time, Rome isn’t built in a day, neither should a powerful brand be. The greatest brands are built over decades, not months. And we are taking our own advice.