From time to time, someone will ask me whether they really need to worry about branding their company. It’s usually asked by the leader of a B2B enterprise that markets to a select few customers and where the sales relationships are one-to-one, very personal. If I’m basically selling to my golfing buddies, goes the reasoning, why do I need to spend money on a logo or a website or whatever? Well, that may be true but improving sales is not the only advantage to having a brand. In fact, there are eight economic advantages to developing a strong brand. See link at the end of this article.
A variation on the question is: Do I really need a personal brand? The reasoning here is: The people I work with know who I am so why should I have to formalize it in any way? But personal branding, as a deliberate activity, sprang from the need to be noticed in the first place. It is difficult to gain recognition in a working world where people have been commoditized. Bankers, lawyers, accountants, carpenters, nurses – anybody – seem interchangeable on the surface. It’s not till you get to know people that you appreciate their strengths and weaknesses. I wrote about a perfect example of personal branding in A Brand Of One. Again, there’s a link at the end of this article.
But how to answer the original question? The best way to determine if you really need a brand is to first review what, exactly, is even able to be branded.
Branding is about simplicity and focus. You have to ask what it is about your business, product or service that satisfies your customers better than anyone else. What’s the real reason they keep coming back again and again? It’s not always easy to come up with an accurate answer. But when you do find it, and can articulate it in a clear and simple positioning statement, you have the beginning of a viable brand strategy. Now you can begin your messaging, your marketing, your advertising, your communications. And that costs money, right? Of course it does but, surprisingly, businesses that have formalized their brand strategy spend far less on marketing than their competitors who think they can succeed without one. And they get a much higher ROI on their marketing spend.
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