Why Is Branding Such a Big F’ing Deal?
Have you ever taken a Rorschach test? Most of us probably know them from film and TV. A psychologist holds up a series of abstract ink blots for a patient to respond to. The idea is for the respondent to blurt out the first thing that comes into their mind.
Well what comes to mind when you look at these?
There is nothing random about the associations you have with these images. They are logos from brands that have carefully and intentionally crafted the insinuations they want around these images. Apple launched with one of the most famous ads of all time, Nike never strays from its iconic “Just Do It” slogan, and the golden arches are a mainstay of the American roadway. You know what these are, what they’re selling, and what sorts of values these companies put out into the world.
But what what about your company? You might not be a big, public, consumer-oriented business. Maybe you’re just starting out. Maybe your product only appeals to a highly specific B2B base. You still need branding.
In my head, whether you are a B2C or B2B company, I imagine you as a brick and mortar. In that sense, you’ll always get the people in your neighborhood, where it’s the most convenient to go to you. But they could always drive five extra minutes to go somewhere else, so most of them choose their vendor by price. What my job is, is to make someone drive an hour away to go see you. By this time, they want to be sold. By this time, you’re a partner, not a vendor nor a commodity. To me, this is why branding has to be stellar. Money can’t buy time.
For Business to Consumer
We’re all consumers, so we all know how many choices there in any given product category. There are some resources to help us make a decision: review sites or recommendations from friends or qualified professionals. But those aren’t always available or convenient, and they aren’t always the deciding factor. Having a brand identity allows you to stand out as an option among many.
Then there’s price. Consumers have an idea of what looks expensive and what looks cheap. That’s influenced by the colors, typography, and logos they’re used to seeing on other brands. It would be difficult to sell anything for a thousand dollars if you use comic sans as your primary font. No matter your price point, good brand awareness will make consumers think they are getting a great value. Ideally, they’ll be surprised your prices aren’t even higher.
Just think about the fact that a brand like Tylenol can exist when it is always sold right next to a cheaper generic product with the exact same ingredients. That should be proof enough of the value of proper brand awareness strategy.
For Business to Business
This is where you see the most skepticism. Companies that sell to other companies have this misconception that business purchasers are strictly rational. They want to believe that a spreadsheet of a human is going to weigh the pros and cons of every product or service they need. That is not always the case.
Sometimes the purchaser is looking for a cool brand to impress their boss and co-workers. Slack is a good example of a B2B brand that presented itself as a hip, innovative product. It blew up while so many similar chat platforms wallowed in their sameness. Maybe the purchaser just wants to not look bad, and they’d rather go with the safest possible option. In that case, your brand needs to exude credibility. As an Austin branding agency, our goal is to make our B2B clients seem like the no-brainer, safe, yet exciting choice.
If there is any doubt in your mind that a brand strategy is a worthy investment, foregoing it a risk you’ll have to take. For everyone else, the next question is what makes great branding and how can you apply that to your own business. That’s another article altogether.