What the heck is branding?

And why it's crucial to your business.

I met someone recently who asked me what branding is and what it meant. It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot. And not everyone knows what branding truly is.

If you thought branding meant creating a logo for your business, you’re not wrong, but you’re not right either.

The word “branding” actually began years ago when farmers would “brand” their cattle. They’d mark their herd so they knew which cows belonged to them and which cows belonged to the neighboring farmer.

That’s how branding came to be known as creating a “mark” or logo for your business.

But as things always do, branding changed and transitioned into what it’s recognized as today.

Let’s start with the branding basics…

Branding is not your logo. It’s not your website. It’s not your business card. And while, yes, they are part of your brand, those things in themselves are not branding.

If someone offered to create a brand for your business, and all they did was design a logo...run far, far away. Most likely, they’ll not only hurt your business in the long run, but they’ll have you believe that anyone can create a brand.

To be completely honest, when someone asks and says, “I just need a quick logo,” I cringe. 

Because the days of needing a “quick logo” are over.

For one thing, great logos...the ones that people actually remember...the ones that make people feel connected to a business or product...the logos that last a lifetime...those logos are not created in a few minutes or a few hours...they take an incredibly long time. Because those great logos represent your entire brand. And not something that just looks cool.

And anyone that doesn’t ask you about the details of your business is not even close to being qualified to touch your brand. I say this with love. Because having your own business these days is extremely competitive.

And I don’t want you to just have a business...I want you to have the kind of business that thrives. The kind that outlasts your competition. And one that’s built to last.

The old way (or the broken way) of how branding was done…

You have an idea for a business… (check)

And you pay a friend, a cousin, or someone else to create your logo for dirt cheap… (check)

You scour the internet for someone to build you a cheap website (because you tell yourself you don’t need anything fancy)...

Or you even think you can create your website on your own because of the tools that are available now make it so much easier to do....(check)

And after all that…

*crickets*

So then you have someone make your business cards. You make sure your logo is on there. (check)...

And then you go out and start spending lots of time telling people about your business…

And you start to get some business (which gets you excited), but it’s not enough business to pay your bills.

You then hire a marketing person. This person tells you he can scale your business fast. And he asks you what you want to say about your business. And you tell them “I sell [XYZ]. Come buy from me.”

You don’t spend hundreds. You spend thousands.

You don’t spend 40 hours a week working. You spend 80-90.

Kind of exhausting, right?

And after all that, you’re still not moving the needle. You hardly see any results come from it.

Then a competitor comes along, and they’re super successful! Some of your customers are using them now too.

And you’re thinking, how the heck is this person doing so well so fast?

So then you try to figure out what they’re doing. And you’re finding a little bit of success, but not enough.

So you cut your prices down to compete with them. But now you have to sell twice as much...which means you have to work twice as much to gain any traction.

Now you’re just exhausted and frustrated.

Overwhelmed about how you’re going to pay the bills. 

You’re losing to your competitor.

And you can’t hire anyone to help because you don’t have the financial margin or time.

So you think...and you determine you need to make some changes and decide to invest.

You get a true professional to create a logo for you.

It looks really really cool.

Then you get more business cards made because they need to have your new logo.

And this time you get someone to build your website for you. With your new logo.

And that sign...remember that sign you bought for your store? The one that cost you $500? Yep, you guessed it...you have to replace that too.

You’re finally getting some business in, but not enough for you to break even. 

Because even though you have a new logo, a new website, and new business cards...nothing has changed in HOW you’re reaching your customers.

You don’t know who your target audience is.

And you can’t seem to get people to buy your service or product.

Sounds like a nightmare if you ask me.

So then…

What branding is not.

Branding consists of so many different things.

Yes, it’s your logo, your website, your business cards…

But it’s also knowing who you are as a business.

Branding includes your vision...

What do you offer? How do you solve a problem?

Branding includes knowing who your ideal clients are…

Knowing who would buy your products and understanding what factors drive their purchasing decisions.

Branding includes your logo, your website, your business card…

And any other visuals that interact with your customers.

Branding includes your values…

What do you believe in? What does your business deem as important?

Branding is establishing your unique selling proposition…

Meaning, what makes you unique compared to your competitor? And what makes you stand out?

Branding is your strategy.

It’s the way you tell your story, how you connect to people, and how you create a memorable experience for your customers.

Branding includes establishing your personality and voice as a business. And how it’s relatable to your customers.

Branding is also your reputation. It’s what customers say about your business when you’re not around. 

Branding is the combination of all these things and the promise you make to your customers.

Branding is essentially the game plan you put together for the long-term growth of your business.

Hopefully now you have a better understanding of what branding is.

And now that you know what branding is, let’s talk about the benefits of great branding!

What the heck is branding?

When potential clients see a professional brand done well and done consistently, they get the impression of a company that deserves their business. Because they get a sense that the business has its act together and knows what they’re doing.

Anyone else watch Shark Tank? I’m a huge fan. My husband and I will try to watch it when it’s on. They care about the offer. They care about its packaging. They care about the strategy behind your business to make sure what they’re investing in is worth it.

And the same goes for your potential customers.

There was a study done that revealed that 82% of investors want the companies they invest in to have a strong brand. 

Maybe you’re not looking for investors, but think about your potential customers…

Have you created a business they would want to invest in? Would they want to buy your service or product?

And what about collaborating with big companies or influencers? Can they tell you are a legitimate business by how it looks?

About five months ago, a local agency that had been in business for several years called me.

At first, I thought this was an amazing opportunity for me to learn from them. And even collaborate with them.

But a few minutes in, the lady I was speaking to was asking me questions about my business and about my strategy.

As a reminder, I had only been in business for several months at the time. Yet they were asking ME about my business.

They asked me about my marketing strategy.

They asked me about how many people were on the team.

And they were shocked to learn that I had only been in business for several months...and (at the time) I was only a one-man show.

That’s what branding can do for a business. 

It’s not falsifying who you are or what you can deliver…

It’s simply having a great strategy in place so that you’re super focused and clear about what you offer to the world. Knowing exactly who you are and how you connect with people is what ultimately affects who does business with you.

A few benefits of establishing a great brand.

Branding can make your company look bigger.

Great branding helps you establish your messaging and how you connect with people. If you are absolutely clear about who you are, what you offer, and how you solve problems, and you deliver on your promises and get results consistently, you start to build trust and loyalty with your customers.

Because now your customers understand what you do. You’re who you say you are. You do what you say you’ll do. And you keep showing up in every interaction consistently.

You may be the best and the most experienced person in your field, but if you don’t have a brand that reflects that, no one will believe it.

As I’m writing this, I got a random message from a young lady who wants me to buy her service. Well, she doesn’t say this directly; she says she just wants to get to know me and what I do.

I tell her what I do, and I ask her what she does.

She tells me that she has all types of different programs to help entrepreneurs scale their business no matter what industry they’re in.

If she’s not familiar with my industry, how do I know she would be able to help business owners in my particular industry?

She also tells me that she talks to people about fitness. In fact, she works at a gym. Apparently that’s her side hustle.

Because I’m very curious about learning about people, I ask her more questions. 

She also works with business owners giving them vacation incentives for their clients.

So...what does she do exactly? I was very confused about what she did and what she actually does to help people.

Because I genuinely want to help her (because I was so confused about what she actually does), I asked her if she needed help with her brand and messaging.

She said no...and that branding is what she does for other business owners.

UMMMM. WHAT??

So why didn’t she just say that from the very beginning??

I quickly dismissed the conversation because it’s clear to me that she doesn’t have it together. And my first impression of her and her business is that she has no clue what she’s doing. 

Probably just trying to scam me for money (even if that’s not her intention)…

OR WORSE...scamming other business owners.

See what first impressions can do? And see why having a clear message and clear focus for your business is crucial to attracting potential customers?

Branding builds trust and loyalty.

This is a big one. 

One of the biggest struggles I hear with small business owners is that they feel like they’re creating a lot of content and it’s falling onto deaf ears.

They can’t connect with their ideal customers and can’t seem to drum up new business.

They’re tired of not being able to find customers, and their business has hit a plateau.

They spend thousands of dollars on a website that doesn’t convert the browsers into paying customers.

They spend thousands of hours putting out content to attract customers to their business with little to no results.

And they spend thousands of dollars on marketing...and they still can’t get any traction in their business.

It’s frustrating.

One of the ways you can separate your business from the competition is to have a unique brand that showcases how you’re different from someone else. 

Why would someone choose your business over your competitor?

Every time you get to interact with someone, you have the chance to make a connection and create an experience that they’ll remember.

Branding helps you create your unique story that resonates with people so that they are compelled to choose your business over someone else’s. The people that your business connects with will become loyal customers.

And if you build a brand that has exceptional customer experience....they’ll be back for more...and they’ll happily bring their friends!

Branding helps you stand out from your competitors.

Creating a unique brand for your business will show that you take pride in what you do.

You’re committed to delivering great results for your customers. And your customers will see and feel that in every aspect of your business.

Imagine you sell high-end jewelry. Each product is individually handcrafted. And you use only the best quality materials. 

What would your customer think if you claimed you believe in high quality, but sent that piece of jewelry in a sandwich bag? You wouldn’t be creating an amazing experience for your customers, and I’m sure if they’re anything like me, they’ll wonder if the piece of jewelry was actually made from high-quality materials.

Customers will believe you are more likely to deliver on your promises to them because a business that invests in its success will under promise and over deliver.

There’s so much more that a brand can do for your business than just these few things mentioned in this blog (a lot more!), and it’s such a critical part of the growth of your business. 

I can’t wait to dive deeper into talking about them (because I want you to be aware of all the good things it can do if you’re feeling stuck in your business)...

But hopefully today’s post brought you some clarity on what branding is and how important it can be to your success.

Until next time,

Happy Branding!

Branding shows commitment and personal pride.