We have worked with various companies in different industries over the years and it is always interesting to find out what others think about branding. For our very first post, we have put together a list of common misconceptions that we hear often from the people we met and talk to. Let’s go!
1) A brand is just a logo
Unfortunately, that’s not quite right.
A brand is a customer’s complete experience with the product or company. Or quoting Ze Frank, it’s the “emotional aftertaste” that comes after an interacting with your product, service or company.
Therefore, a brand is so much more than just a logo. Yes, a logo is a fairly important part of the brand, but it’s only just part of a bigger whole.
Branding is the process of finding your company’s traits and voice then translating them not only onto your logo, but to your website, packaging, signage, customer services, PR and various other facets of your business that your customers come into contact with. In doing so, you can influence what people think and feel about your business.
On the flip side, if you don’t take control of it, you are actually leaving customers to figure your brand out for themselves. And that is a pretty great opportunity missed don’t you think?
2) Is a cohesive brand really that important?
Well, unless you are in a super niche market, we do not know of any product or service that wouldn’t benefit from having a clear and cohesive branding.
Remember, a brand is a customer’s complete experience with the company. So it follows that the various facets of a brand should communicate the same positive message that you are trying to convey.
Just like looking at your shop front to see if it is clean, tidy and filled with cheerful staff etc, customers will pick up on signs and create their own opinions base on your logo, name cards and website, which are usually the first interaction points of your brand.
If the company makes quality products but the brand doesn’t convey the same level of quality, there will be an inevitable mismatch in confidence.
So why not make sure all these interaction points paint the same story and help your customers simplify their decision making process instead of leaving them confused with mix signals.
3) Consumers don’t really care what the brand looks like
This is a common thought among people who are in industries that are less glamorous or those that have traditionally not focus much on looking good. However, consumers are much more intuitive than what business owners perceive these days.
“Buyers make most decisions by relying on their two-second first impressions based on stored memories, images and feelings.”1
And most often than not, these first impressions are based on your outward appearance, which are evident right away, before they decide whether to dig deeper into your brand.
At the end of the day, no matter what brand the consumer choose, they still desire products and services that they are attracted to and that they can connect with. If they feel your website looks dubious or unprofessional, chances are they might not give your brand and services a second look.
What’s more, if you are in a generic market that is lacking in any branding, what do you think would give you an edge to stand out from the crowd?
4) Let’s make our brand appeal to everyone
A good brand by nature is not generic and speaks to a specific group of people. Every company should understand that its services and products can’t be all things to everyone and hence its brand can’t appeal to everyone either.
The essence of branding is to distill a company’s personality to create brand signals that are relevant to their target market and audience.
This is how your company can differentiate itself and attract the people that are most likely to like you instead of being generic and shouting into the vast ocean in the hope of reaching everyone.
Take for example Long-Term Corporate Services which we help brand. In the big field of accounting, Long-Term wants to set itself apart from accounting firms that are cold and intimidating by positioning itself as a refreshing and approachable company targeting new companies and a younger audience.
By having this clear understanding of who they are targeting, we were able to better help Long-Term translate its vision into its unique branding and appeal to its ideal customers.
5) Branding isn’t relevant to a small business like ours
Most small businesses may not think much about branding as they associate becoming a “brand” to big spendings by well-known brands. We are talking about glamorous TV or print advertising, celebrity endorsements and publicity stunts by companies such as Apple and Nike.
And it’s true that if we look at branding through this lens, it may seem overwhelming and irrelevant to small businesses. But if we dive deeper, what these activities aim for is to create “brand engagement”, which in essence is just about connecting people with the brand.
Now, creating connection with your audience is definitely relevant and essential to all businesses big or small. In fact, I’d say that branding is even more crucial for small companies as they do not have the budget to achieve branding success by pouring money into branding like the big boys do.
Therefore, small businesses have to be smart and strategic about their branding. They can do so by starting small and work on their immediate brand assets to build a strong foundation for growth. With small incremental steps, these branding efforts can one day have a domino effect and make a big difference.
6) We’re just a conventional business, so let’s blend in a bit
We actually hear this quite a lot from businesses that are afraid to “rock the boat” or just uncomfortable with the idea of branding.
It is also similar to why some companies try hard to mimic successful competitors, in the hope of having some of their success rub off on themselves. This is however counter productive in the long run as you will always be playing catch up.
Most often than not, this train of thoughts stem from a lack of understanding and misconception about branding.
Branding is not about being wild and loud if it doesn’t suit your company. It is about showing who you are and how you are different from others. If you are a traditional business, filled with heritage and dedication to your craft, make sure these characteristics come across through your logo, websites and marketing communications.
In the end for most companies, especially the conventional ones, the first step to differentiating is just to be bold (not crazy), and take a few steps beyond your comfort zone.
7) Branding is subjective
Above all else, branding is strategic, not subjective.
Most business owners may want to design their brand base on their personal preference and that is ok for the most part. A good brand should instill confidence and pride in the owner and within the organization.
But do remember that there is still another important stakeholder in any business – the customers. And that is where it gets strategic.
In essence, good branding is all about positioning yourself to reach out to your ideal customers. It is about distilling your company’s vision, your story and your business into content and visuals that resonate with them.
Know that branding is a process of calculated choices. From choosing the tone of how your company communicates, to the colours and fonts used in your website, you are consciously sending out signals and evoking emotions to connect with your audience.
So don’t leave your branding all up to personal taste. Get strategic with it!
Need help getting started with branding? Check out our free Brand Questionnaire to help you explore and understand your brand better, which is usually the first step to branding.
Till next time