“Branding, does it really matter?“
As a marketer by trade, this sentence can feel like a personal affront! It’s not of course, but it does highlight why so many businesses have inconsistent, lackluster, and/or nonexistent brand identity. I’ve had to explain the value a strong, consistent brand can bring to any business or organisation, small and large, many times.
Let’s consider the effect of the pandemic. Many small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) have disappeared forever — 25,614 businesses closed between February and September 2020 in Ontario alone1 — and many others have since closed their doors. First, if your business has made it this far, you have my sincere ‘Congratulations!’ Second, that means that your enterprise did not require in-person interactions, already had a significant digital footprint, or you pivoted quickly enough to make up at least some of your in-house losses. Yours is likely a business where resilience and determination are now cemented in the minds and hearts of your customers.
It’s an ideal time to turn your good reputation and those positive customer experiences into your very own brand.
Of course, reputation is important no matter the size of your business. Large companies with a broader reach and a more diverse customer base are much more visible. Errors, oversights and blunders can certainly affect their reputation. However, their size also insulates them to some degree. Small missteps now and then can be shrugged off as just a one-time thing or the actions of a bad apple in the mix. As long as it doesn’t truly blow up, they can often sidestep serious damage, even in the era of social media.
As a small/local business owner, you have more at stake. Without the buffer of the large audience and wide customer base of a big company, there is a much bigger chance that a faux-pas gets out to a large portion of their community. Ten angry customers is a much bigger deal to you than it is to Corporation XYZ. Reputation is everything!
So, what does this have to do with having a brand?
Among the many benefits, a strong, consistent brand can play the role of a buffer, a moderating influence. Ideally, your brand communicates your goals and your values. It broadcasts a message that resonates with your customers and prospects. It becomes much more difficult for someone to change their mind in an instant about a business when they know you and feel a kinship with your brand. It gives you some of the leeway or “wiggle room” that larger companies enjoy.
Above all else, moulding your good reputation into an effective and consistent brand is something you can bank on…literally!
Do you have a well-defined brand that is executed consistently across all parts of your business? If not, why not? Are you “all in” but struggling to know where to begin? I’m truly interested…please share in the comments!
1 Statistics Canada. (Dec. 24, 2020). Monthly estimates of business openings and closures, Sep. 2020. The Daily. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/201224/dq201224c-eng.htm
© 2021-2022 Tracey Copeland, Rolling Sands Consulting.