Branding has always fascinated me – the creative element yes, but also the psychological pull. Which is why I focused my studies at university on marketing and branding, went into a career in advertising working with some huge household brands, and most recently launched as a personal brand coach.
From a very early age, all of us will have been exposed to hundreds and thousands of brands. Our initial perceptions of brands are shaped by the views of our family – from what cereal is in your bowl at breakfast through to what ketchup bottle is in on the table at dinner. The impact of some of these decisions can be profound, and there are certain staple brands that we will stick to for life. Heaven forbid we cheat on our favourite mayonnaise brand or buy a different toothpaste!
As we hit school age, brands take on even more significance, and can quickly become the defining point of where you stand in the social hierarchy of the playground. Got the latest Nike trainers? Tick – you can be instantly elevated to one of the cool kids.
Even now, branding impacts all of our purchase habits – from small, everyday purchases such as the lipstick we choose, through to high-end purchases like the car that we drive. We make decisions every day based on what we know, or believe we know, about brands, and how they make us look and feel.
But why is it that brands are so important?
As Jeff Bezos nicely put it, ‘Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room’. Your brand is a whole representation of you and your product or service, and seeing a brand logo or hearing a brand name can (and should) instantly conjure up an image or opinion of your business.
If your brand ISN’T instantly conjuring up any perceptions or opinions for people, then you’ve got a clear problem with a lack of brand awareness (you’re not expecting EVERYONE to know you, but if your target audience doesn’t know you or what you stand for, then you have trouble on your hands). There is a deep sense of mistrust. People can’t, and won’t, buy from a brand they don’t know – especially if it’s a bigger ticket item that requires more of a financial (and emotional) investment.
If your brand is conjuring up images for your audience, but they’re not the right ones, then we also have a problem. What your brand says to your audience is soimportant. Consumers are increasingly savvy and do their research before making a purchase. They have exposure to you across multiple touchpoints – your website, social media, reviews sites and so on. Ensuring you have one strong, consistent message is key. You need to stand for something – and ensure it resonates!
So why is a brand so important to drive sales?
Your brand is important because as humans we use brand perceptions and associations to streamline our decision making. We don’t all have time to deliberate for hours over what to buy, so will default to a brand we know and trust. For this to happen, it’s important that your audience is not only aware of your brand, but knows what it stands for. If you’re not ticking both of these boxes, you’re at a real disadvantage when it comes to selling. Nail a strong, consistent brand message, and ensure this reaches your audience – and you’re well in line to be top of mind when it comes to purchasing.