Does brand matter in small business? Yes. Yes it does.

Guest Blog by Ellie Louie, Creative Director, Firefly Interactive

First off, what is this elusive thing we call ‘brand’? It gets bandied around enough, but does anyone really knows what it means? I can tell you that brand is not a logo. Your logo is a symbol that helps to represent your brand. It’s a component of your brand, but it’s not your brand.

Simply put, your brand is everything that your company represents in the eyes of its customers. It encompasses your company’s ethos and values, its customer service, its attitude, its uniqueness, and what your company promises to deliver. Your brand has its own personality, reflects who you are and evokes a myriad of feelings in your audience. So if your brand gets your audience excited, enthusiastic and keen for more, then it is priceless. If your target market is confused or uncertain of your brand, then they’re not going to sign on the dotted line.

Beyond just a cool logo, good branding increases the value of a company, makes acquiring new customers easier, and helps to build team culture by keeping employees motivated, productive and dedicated to your cause.

Smart businesses know it’s important to invest in brand. You only need to look at Apple, Nike, Coke and McDonalds to understand that successful brands make it a priority to engage customers on a deeper level. It’s not just their logo, tagline or corporate colours – these are what we refer to as brand assets. For example when someone says Nike, it evokes an emotional response – their brand assets come into play. In your head you can hear the tagline ‘Just Do It’, you can visualise their dynamic swoosh logo, and before you can say deodorant you can smell the sweat, and all of a sudden you’re feeling rather guilty that you’ve been sitting on the couch engaged in a Game of Thrones marathon.

The most successful brands stand for something their target audience can’t live without. They tap into the core need of their customers and know how to promote loyalty, engagement and excitement. Think about the queues outside Apple stores every time they release a new product. Their customers are chomping at the bit, desperate to hand their credit cards over. If you can create a brand that inspires that kind of devotion, half your job is already done.

Most importantly, your brand needs to be authentic. It should represent your company’s values, products and services truthfully. Trying to hoodwink your customer base is a sure-fire way of losing their loyalty, respect and business. Worse still, you can be guaranteed that your dissatisfied customers will pass on their experience to other potential customers – what that creates is a negative brand.
Part of your brand package should be focused on excellent customer service. This is particularly vital in small business, as often you will be dealing directly with your customers. What a lot of customers want from small business is an invested hands-on approach which is often missing from faceless big businesses. Your brand must align itself with your customers’ evolving needs and wants, so when you’re creating your brand, always have your customers front of mind.
Three reasons to get your brand cooking with fire:
• Name awareness – customers who have heard of your company will be more inclined to listen to you as opposed to an unknown company.
• Customer selection – customers who know your brand and its reputation are more likely to send business your way as they know who you are and what you stand for. They already feel a level of familiarity and comfort with you.
• Profitability – customers will always pay premium prices for products and services that they can trust, as opposed to less-known and less-trusted options.