The first impression your customers have of your product or service is your brand. As the saying goes, “There is no second chance for a first impression,” and branding can make or break your business entirely.
Small businesses, especially, tend to ignore branding and marketing. One of the reasons is that they believe that if they have a great product or service, it will sell itself.
While this is sometimes true, like in the case of Tesla — which spends relatively little on marketing and depends mostly on word of mouth and the founder’s charisma, there is still a lot of branding involved.
Wait, then what is the difference between branding and marketing?
We are glad you asked. Branding is who you or your customers say you are. It is your long-term identity. If you are thinking, “But I already paid a lot of money to create a logo and I have a tag line about what my business does. Is that not branding?” Well, it is. But it is just a small part of branding.
On the other hand, marketing is how you communicate this brand and build awareness with your customers. Marketing has become more simplified and complex at the same time as social media becomes a central area for reaching customers. Both components are extremely important to maximise your business reach.
But it is too expensive lah
A recent survey
by BIZSPHERE Brand & Marketing Group noted that SMEs in Malaysia say that the high cost of brand investment is their biggest challenge in taking their brand to the next level.
This is because branding and marketing are not considered important enough to be included in start-up costs. And while the cost of brand marketing and differentiation can be high, the impact on your business and revenue makes it worth the investment.
So, what are the benefits of branding to my business?
Think about the last thing you bought and why you bought the brand that you did. Chances are that this is not the first time you bought the same brand. Why did you do it?
You can probably recognise the brand from anywhere. Maybe because of the packaging; the colours look bright, or in the case of a service, you are familiar and used to using that one service.
We continue to use the products and services that we are familiar with and have trust in. This is because we already know that they work how we want, so why use something else? Trust is part of branding. Trusted is what that brand is and what customers say the brand is.
If you succeed in making customers recognise and trust your brand, they will help you market it for free. Think about the last thing you shared on social media. Maybe it was a picture of the food in a restaurant that you liked. Without realising it, you are helping the restaurant market their brand. Your customers can do the same for you.
You know how you go to the supermarket and immediately go for that one item? That is because you recognise it even though most of the time it is surrounded by competing products. Its branding — a combination of the design and your recognition and trust — makes it stand out even in a shelf full of competition.
It is important to note that branding and marketing is not a one-time thing. Your brand should be flexible, able to grow and evolve along with your business and your customers.
If you have not started with branding and marketing your product or service, now is the time to do so. It should be one of the first things you establish when starting your business. In fact, your brand marketing can start before you even get your product or service ready. That way, your customers get hyped for what you are going to offer them.
Our theme in October 2018 is building your SME brand. In our next updates, we will cover some of the hottest branding topics around, from top branding strategies, mistakes SMEs often make and cheap/free branding opportunities to personal branding and trends to watch. Come back again soon!
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