Why Brands are Important to Small Businesses
Your small business brand is important because it represents a promise to your customers. Your small business brand is the mental image your customers form whenever they encounter your name or logo. Your brand is what customers believe about you based on everything they’ve ever seen or heard — whether good or bad, true or false.
Keep in mind two facts about what brands are and aren’t:
A brand is a set of beliefs. It’s a promise customers believe.
A brand isn’t a logo. A logo is a symbol that identifies a brand. When people see your small business logo or hear your business’ name, a set of images arises. Those images define your brand in their minds.
If you make impressions in your small business marketplace, whether proactively or unconsciously, you’re building your brand. In fact, you’re likely building two brands at once — a business brand for your company and a personal brand for yourself.
Something as basic as your street or online address contributes to how people perceive your brand. For that matter, customers, prospective customers, job applicants, reporters, bankers, suppliers, and those who refer people to you and your business form impressions every time they walk through your front door, visit your website, meet an employee, see your ad, or scan an online review or search results.
All those impressions accumulate to become your brand image in your customer’s mind, which is where brands live.
Unlock the power and value of a small business brand
If you need a motivating fact to boot you into branding action, here it is: Branding makes selling easier because people want to buy from those they know and like, and those they trust will deliver on commitments. A good brand puts forth that promise.
With a well-managed brand, your company hardly needs to introduce itself. Within your target market, people will already know your business, its personality, and the promise it makes to customers — all based on the positive set of impressions you’ve made and they’ve stored in their minds.
Without a well-managed brand, you’ll spend a good part of every sales opportunity trying to introduce your business, while some well-known brand down the street can spend that time actually making the sale.
Brands fuel success in three ways:
Brands lead to name awareness, which sets your business apart from all the contenders your audience has never heard of.
Brands prompt consumer selection because people prefer to work with those they’ve heard of and heard good things about.
Brands unlock profitability because people pay premium prices for products (or, in the case of personal brands, for people) that they trust will deliver higher value than less-known and less-trusted alternatives.
As a result of the advantages they deliver, brands increase the odds of business success, which makes them especially valuable in a world where half of all businesses fail in the first five years, nine out of ten products don’t make it to their second anniversary, and too many people are vying for the same jobs, sales, and opportunities.
Increase the importance of your small business brand online
Without a brand, you have to build the case for your business before every sale. Doing that is tough work in-person and even tougher online, because you can’t be there to make introductions, inspire confidence, counter resistance, or break down barriers.
Brands are essential to online and off-line success for very different reasons.
For those who sell online, brands are necessary for credibility.
People buy everything online — from contact lenses to cars — all without the benefit of personal persuasion, hands-on evaluation, or test drives. Why? Because customers arrive at websites with confidence in the brands they buy.
When customers see a brand they know and like, they check the price and terms, click to buy, and move on to checkout. If your business takes place primarily online, your brand is your key to sales.
For those who sell off-line, brands are necessary for findability.
Anymore, nearly every brand needs to be findable, prominent, and credible online. The rare exceptions are those that serve a target market that never goes online and that’s never influenced by those that do.
For every other brand, Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail (Hyperion) and Wired magazine editor, says, “Your brand is what Google says it is.” If customers can’t find your business in an online search, they conclude that you either don’t exist or aren’t a top player in your arena.
Branding facilitates sales and spurs success, whether your cash register is online or on Main Street.