By Jon Michail
I admit my bias, I am an image maker and yes it’s part of what I do, however you can’t escape it. Even if you travel to a desert island to get away from it all, the plane that dropped you off has it. Look inside your bag. Your sunscreen has it, your shades have it and so does that great sunhat you bought last week.
You can’t escape branding. It’s everywhere.
Why did you buy that brand of sunscreen? You saw it on TV? Your mates swear by it? Or did the packaging stand out amongst the dozens of others on the pharmacy shelves?
There’s no escaping it. Branding is Big Business and it’s here to stay. And that logo, that catchphrase, those brilliantly clashing colours didn’t just come out of nowhere. They were developed with great creativity, and they did their job. You bought them.
So what lies behind it all? Why has this multi-billion dollar industry got us so firmly in its grasp?
Here are seven vital things that branding does for us.
- Branding is a promise.
We’re seduced into having expectations of our new whatever. We expect to be seen as people who make the right choices. Do we believe we’ll jog better with those new running shoes? Will our new kitchen work more efficiently with those imported tiles? Not really. We’ve been seduced into paying more for them because we have high expectations. We want to look the best and to feel that we’ve done our best. We like to be associated with winners. We like to belong. It’s the same in business. We want the best, and the big-name brands promise that they’ll give it to us.
- Brands build repeat business.
We love to be part of a team, a great workforce, a cheering audience. We’re programmed to want to be part of a big group. Brands give us those groups. They make us feel good and they make us feel connected to the others who share our great taste.
We’ll go looking for that special brand and we’ll make a point of ignoring the others so we connect with it again. Brands build loyalty, a huge part of keeping the profits soaring.
- Clever brands stay up with the play.
Good brands know their followers will stay true if they don’t startle them with meaningless changes. Fans want to stay connected. Good brands will change course if they go wrong, and revert to what their devotees really want . Think Coke. That iconic brand has stayed fundamentally the same for decades. Yes, they’ve made mistakes, but they’ve been smart enough to put them aside and give their loyal customers what they’ve always wanted – some change, but not too much.
- The best brands make money.
Remember the old saying – ‘Money makes money’? Indeed it does. If you want your brand to attract strong investment, you have to look as though you’re the kind of business that will make the best possible use of it. A strong and vital brand will build value far above its actual assets. Look at the Virgin companies, or Google and Amazon. They may have huge amounts of stock, vast buildings and lots of planes, but their perceived value – their branding – far exceeds their face value.
- Outstanding brands produce enthusiastic referrals.
People love having a great business experience, and they’ll pass the message on. How often have you heard someone talking about the great job their builder did, or the unforgettable trip organised by their travel agent? Who got a great deal on their new car or found a reliable plumber?
No matter what the cost of the service you loved, you told someone, didn’t you? When your brand is known as the best available, your clients don’t hesitate to tell their friends, family and neighbours. They’ll go to their favourite online media outlets and say it again. It’s good for them and it’s great for your business.
- People love to work for inspirational brands.
People love to be associated with the best brands and it’s the same for your workforce. Brilliant employer branding will attract the best and help to retain them. By building staff loyalty, you create the best possible atmosphere where ideas, enthusiasm and brilliance can flow unimpeded.
Does your company care for the people who have helped to make it what it is? It should do. It’s a huge part of your brand and your business culture.
- You are your own brand
Every day you’re in business, you are creating and building your personal brand. No matter where you are and who you’re meeting, that first impression others have of you is incredibly important.
People look for an alignment with your company. The clothes you wear, your personal styling and grooming, the way you treat others – are part of your packaging and all combine to make you the embodiment of your company. Don’t let your business brand down by portraying yourself as someone completely different from that hard-won image.
Remember, you are an ambassador for your business. You are a brand.
Share with us why branding works in your experience.
Jon Michail is Group CEO of Image Group International, Australasia’s No 1 image coach. Image Group International supports executives, entrepreneurs and their organisations to become iconic and monetised leadership brands.