The landscape of business has changed dramatically since I started my photography career 18 years ago.
Back then, marketing seemed so much simpler – get a website, get listed in the Yellow Pages, go to local networking events, and make sure you offer a great product so customers would send you referrals. In essence, do good work and you will be rewarded. Anyone else remember those days?
Today, things are so much more complicated, right? As a business owner it’s not hard to spend 95% of our time on marketing activities such as social media, email newsletters, blogging, podcasting, etc, and the remaining 5% on doing the actual work we get paid for and love. Some days you just wanna quit, right? Hands up if you can relate…
It’s for this exact reason that our brands, and everything they entail, have become so important. The market will never get less competitive than it is now, only more, but if you are able to create a recognisable, trusted, and consistent image of your business in the minds of others, then you will find it easier to stand out in your industry and appeal to new customers. And this can be done through branding.
The terms brand and branding get thrown around a lot these days, and there is often some confusion about how they differ, so I thought I’d take a step back on the blog this week and define each one.
WHAT IS A BRAND?
The first thing people usually conjure up when the term brand is used is a logo, and yes that does form part of your brand – but a brand is SO much more. In its simplest form, your brand is how people perceive your business – their thoughts and emotions when they think about you or come into contact with your business in any way, based on the relationship you build with them. As Jeff Bezos famously said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
There are many elements to a brand that can influence people’s thinking, including but not limited to your values, visual identity, purpose, positioning, and personality. HOW we influence what people think about our brand brings us to the next term … branding!
WHAT IS BRANDING?
Branding is how we communicate our brand to others. In other words, marketing – a word often accompanied with loud groans amongst small biz owners ?. To do this effectively you need to have a strategy; how are you communicating your brand’s values, positioning and message to people in a way that engenders trust and loyalty? If you don’t get this right, it’s easy to end up confusing your audience and appealing to the wrong people (or worse, no one). But if you nail it, I give you permission to crack open a champagne on a Monday night, because you just found the easiest, best, and most effective way to differentiate yourself from your competitors and attract your ideal customers.
The most important aspect of branding is to have a strategy, so whenever people come into contact with your business (and I mean anywhere – in-person or online), you are confidently sending a super clear message about who you are, what you do, and how you work, so that people can make a quick decision about whether or not you are right for them.
So, to cut all it right back down to basics, your brand is how people perceive your business, whilst branding is the action you take to communicate your brand and build people’s perception of your business.
In the words of yet another great quote, “if you don’t brand yourself, others will”.
Your brand is the best asset or tool you have to differentiate yourself from your competitors, so make sure YOU are in the driver’s seat of how it’s perceived by people through your branding.