A brand isn’t immeasurable. It has a real, tangible impact that requires strategic thinking.
In a Harvard Business Review article penned by American Entrepreneur Dan Pallotta, one short sentence succinctly captures the essence of branding: “Brand is everything, and everything is brand.”
With the limitless amount of information afforded to customers nowadays, they’re empowered to make informed purchase decisions, leaving solution providers with the task of earning their business. Which makes the role of branding, more than ever, a vehicle for real business growth.
A strong brand is designed to get people to buy more, pay more, make quicker purchasing decisions and stick with the company until they become brand advocates.
Consider companies that garner positive media coverage as market leaders, whose customers line up for their products in droves ahead of every new launch regardless of cost. Apple’s iPhone X, the $999 smartphone selling at an exponential rate, is one. Apple is an example where strong branding drives the motivation to purchase and alleviates concerns related to product pricing.
IBM, a brand that had lost relevance, now combines strong branding with investment in research and development (R&D) to drive the motivation to purchase and set premium pricing. Companies are investing in Watson to become more efficient and competitive in the marketplace – two objectives seamlessly repositioned as key strategic benefits in IBM’s messaging.
Not every company will become a household or industry name, but strong branding is an avenue for companies to thrive despite challenging market dynamics. Whether you face slowing market growth or investor concerns over lower profit margins, strategic branding offers multiple opportunities to meet and exceed business objectives. Let’s take a quick look into two ways your brand strategy plays into the business value of branding.
Buyer Willingness to Pay
The value of perception is very measurable when it comes to product pricing. When two companies sell a near-indistinguishable product, the one with a stronger brand will be able to preserve or even elevate the price point.
When B2B companies lose to competitors, in most cases, the primary reason is not price. The weaker the brand, the harder it is to win business regardless of price. And the lower the price, the more questions it raises in the buyers’ minds in terms of ROI.
The most common mistake made by brands with weaker reputations lies in the messaging. They tend to focus on features and functions of the product or service instead of why it matters and what value it brings them.
Features and functions are unquestionably important (especially for newer brands), but it’s important to prioritize messaging that centers on what clients want before focusing on what they need.
Brands should sell themselves from the top down, starting with the “why,” and working their way down to the “how.” Positioning your brand’s messaging toward the buyers’ interests enables you to build up substantial equity within their minds that you have a truly better product or service.
People are more likely to trust a brand they’re familiar with or have at least heard about. They don’t feel as compelled to ask as many questions or conduct as much research, as they would for a brand they don’t know.
With a strong brand, you can guide prospects through the buyer’s journey more quickly – from the awareness stage to the consideration and decision stages. In other words, you can collapse purchase cycles.
When it comes to shortening sales cycles, you can test and see correlations between the quality and awareness of your brand. More sales, more time saved and more revenue are core ingredients for faster cash flow.
Value of a Consistent Brand
It also provides a rallying point for internal buy-in and helps employees understand how they fit within your organization. In contrast, erratic, inconsistent behavior quickly leads to confusion and mistrust. Inconsistent brand messages create confusion for customers that may disrupt or slow down the buying process. Brand and message consistency ensures you experience the full lift and benefit of your marketing and sales efforts – especially for B2B companies that have long sales cycles.
A consistent brand helps increase the overall value of your company by reinforcing your position in the marketplace, attracting better quality customers with higher retention rates and raising the perceived value of your products or services.
Elements of Brand Consistency
As you strive to build brand value and trust, assess how consistency works across all aspects of your identity. These elements are the basic building blocks of a consistent brand, and most brand managers should be familiar with how they impact your brand.
- A consistent brand message should clearly define your positioning and align with your core behaviors. If your actions consistently align with your message, customers begin to trust and delight in your service.
- Tone is an element that companies tend to forget as they develop their brand. Is the spirit of your brand an aggressive go-getter who gets things done? A friend who is willing to lend a helping hand? If your tone switches often, customers may develop differing expectations about your product or service.
- Imagery is perhaps the most obvious element in your brand consistency toolkit. Using brand elements thoughtfully and strategically helps build visibility and increases customer recognition and association.
- Beyond these fundamental elements, the delivery of your brand through timing and across channels significantly contributes to the consistency of experience. The channels you choose, as well as the frequency of contact, create a rhythm of communication.
As you develop a consistent brand, you begin to take ownership of your own niche in the market. When you choose a position and then consistently reinforce your position, it becomes more difficult for competitors to come in and take that advantage away. The ability to manage your market position trains customer expectations, setting a foundation for continued success.
Flexibility to Grow
When your organization understands the core of your brand, it is easier for your business to deal with change or take advantage of new opportunities. You can tie proposed actions back to familiar business goals and values. And because your company has been consistent in the past, when you launch a new product or program in-line with your overall brand, it helps customers see the change as just another step in your journey as a company.
How to Build your Brand and Grow Your Value
We’ve covered the importance of branding to your company’s long-term growth. Now, how do you start building up your brand consistency to create advocates of your clients?
Learn how to evaluate, optimize and measure the success of your brand with our comprehensive Brand Strategy Guide. Explore insights on the basics of branding, as well as in-depth strategies that will help you elevate the perception of your company.
Also included is a deep dive into the process of our own rebranding process, with full explanations of our goals, methods and results.
Ready to see what a strong brand can do for your business? Download the guide and master the branding process to get the most value from your brand.