ALYNX BRAND BLOG


What is Branding and Does Your Business Need It?



Image About What Brand Design is and How It Can Benefit Your Business

As the owner of a small or medium-sized business you may be aware of the importance of marketing. You probably already have a logo for your business. At best, you have a strong brand that extends to every part of your company. The question you may be struggling with:

What IS branding?

There is also the question of whether branding is right for your business. In this blog post I will give you a breakdown of what branding is and how it can improve the marketing systems your business (hopefully) has in place.

In order to understand branding you need to learn about what branding depends on. Branding doesn't exist in a vacuum, it needs a marketing system in place in order to be more effective. Branding can be applied to your business's marketing system to make it stronger. A marketing system, or sales funnel, is how small businesses get new customers (or clients).

Some Marketing Lingo

"Marketing system" and "sales funnel" are terms that describe how your business gets customers or clients. Whether your company has a marketing system or relies on word of mouth, your business has a sales funnel that your customers go through before they decide to buy what your company offers. You could call this system "how my business finds customers" but it's easier to say "sales funnel".

Sally's Sales Funnel

Now that we agree your business has a sales funnel we can talk about how it works. During the sales process your customers experience your company's marketing and customer service in different steps. Here is an example of a simple sales funnel:

1. Joe hears about Sally's cupcake business from a friend.

2. Joe runs into Sally a few day's later and asks her about her business. Sally talks to him about her business and gives him a business card.

3. Later that evening, Joe goes to Sally's website and sees photos of her cupcakes, her bakery, and reads about her business.

4. The next week Joe decides to buy some cupcakes for his daughter's birthday. He orders them over the phone and picks them up from the bakery.

5. He brings the cupcakes home in a box Sally's bakery provided. Everyone at the party likes the cupcakes.

The Truth

Before we continue, I'm going to share an important insight: your business doesn't have to have professional branding in order to have some success. The steps outlined above work for many small business owners who manage their own sales funnels. These types of business owners are happy with a smaller amount of business and marketing through word of mouth. It isn't a question of whether your company can function without professional branding. It can.

Unless You Have Bigger Goals

Branding is for business owners who would like their businesses to grow and compete. You can think about whether you want this for your business, and whether you would enjoy maintaining its brand image over time.

Sally's Marketing Touchpoints

Now let's define the marketing aspects in each step of Sally's cupcake business:

1. Joe hears about Sally's cupcake business from a friend. (This is a customer testimonial.)

2. Joe runs into Sally a few day's later and asks her about her business. Sally talks to him about her business and gives him a business card. (This is customer service and a physical marketing piece.)

3. Later that evening, Joe goes to Sally's website and sees photos of her cupcakes, her bakery, and reads about her business. (This is an online marketing experience.)

4. The next week Joe decides to buy some cupcakes for his daughter's birthday. He orders them over the phone and picks them up from the bakery. (This is a customer-service experience, and in-store branding experience.)

5. He brings the cupcakes home in a box Sally's bakery provided. Everyone at the party likes the cupcakes. (This is package design.)

Whether or not Sally calls this process a "sales funnel" Sally's customers go through steps before they buy her products. Each of these steps are part of her sales funnel. Each of these steps employ some form of marketing.

The Answer You've Been Waiting For

Are you wondering how this is this relevant to branding? Are you ready for the answer that will finally allow you to understand what branding really is? Drum roll please...

Brand is simply a meaningful, consistent visual system for your business's sales funnel.

Or you could say, branding is an elevated sales funnel. It means every step in your business's customer experience is carefully planned out. Every marketing piece is designed by a professional. This will keep more prospects in the sales funnel through increasing trust in, and engagement with, your business.

Sally's (Potential) Brand

Let's take another look at Sally's funnel, this time from a branding point of view:

1. Joe hears about Sally's cupcake business from a friend. (First company brand experience. Joe would have heard about Sally's bakery from an online ad, Google search result, newspaper ad, or physical flyer. These mediums can be good ways of reaching many people if they are used properly.).

2. Joe runs into Sally a few day's later and asks her about her business. Sally talks to him about her business and gives him a business card. (Second brand experience. Sally would be wearing an outfit with her company logo and colors. Her outfit colors would match her business card.)

3. Later that evening, Joe goes to Sally's website and sees photos of her cupcakes, her bakery, and reads about her business. (Third brand experience. The website would have the same logo as the business card, with the same company colors and fonts. There would be pictures of Sally at her bakery in the same outfit she was wearing the day she met Joe, all consistent with the brand image Joe has seen so far.)

4. The next week Joe decides to buy some cupcakes for his daughter's birthday. He orders them over the phone and picks them up from the bakery. (Fourth company brand experience. The bakery would have a custom sign out front with the same logo as the business card and company website. Sally would be there, maybe with an employee, and they would wear matching outfits with the company logo. There would be a color scheme for the bakery, and it would match the website and business card.)

5. He brings the cupcakes home in a box Sally's bakery provided. Everyone at the party likes the cupcakes. (Fifth company brand experience. The box's color and logo would be the same as the bakery, website, outfits and business card. Inside, the cupcakes would be wrapped in paper with the company color...)

Are you beginning to see the bigger picture? Every step of the sales funnel, Sally's visual brand is consistent and meaningful. As Joe experiences each new brand touchpoint, he feels more and more that he can trust Sally's company. This is because he sees that Sally cares about her business's presentation. Sally makes it easy for Joe to identify her business and remember what it stands for.

This Is What Branding Is

The more you think about it, the more you will realize that branding isn't just relevant for corporations or bigger companies. In fact, it could be important for your business because there are bigger players it competes with.

Important Steps Before Branding

If your company is just starting out and hasn't made any sales yet, make that your first goal. Once you understand your business sales funnel, you can work on improving it and reaching more customers. If you already have a sales funnel in place and have had a reasonable amount of success, branding would likely work well for your business.

You Have the Power

Now that you understand the value of branding, you can discuss it confidently with your business partner, family members, or friends. When they ask why you are considering branding, you can tell them it's because your current sales funnel is doing well, and you think it could do better if it was professionally branded.

Achieve More, Last Longer

Branding is for businesses who intend to last for the long term. If you would like to offer a quality product or service for years to come, and build a solid reputation that your customers or clients will love, branding can help you elevate your marketing game and reach new levels of business