If you’re a business owner, you’ve most likely heard the term “branding” thrown around more times than you can count.
Company branding can be a difficult thing to nail down. The term itself is often used interchangeably with other terms like “brand” and “brand identity.” We’ll talk about what branding is and how it can affect the customer shopping experience.
What is Branding?
Branding is the action you take to shape your company, practices, values, and products, and how you present it to your customers and audience. It’s a process that involves strategy, deciding on your company name, deciding what you offer and why, and the words you want to say to customers.
Branding is different from the terms “brand” and “brand identity.” A brand is your company itself. It’s the end result of your branding. A brand identity is everything visual about your company, from its logos and colors to its website and product packaging. When thinking about your brand identity, make sure to include product photography. Your product photography is a visual representation of your product, and therefore, of your brand.
Branding should be the effort you take to push your brand. Once your brand is established, you’ve completed your branding efforts.
Altogether, these three separate terms make up how you and your audience experience and see your company.
How Do I Define My Business’s Branding?
You’ve built your company up from the ground and you’ve poured months or years of work into making your products memorable for your customers. But you might be wondering how your brand will come across to your customers. Before you overthink your company’s branding, remember that branding is the action you take to shape your company’s values and practices.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed, but the simplest first step is to start with your product.
What are you offering to your customers?
This should be the easiest step to take since the answer is your product itself. If you’re making hand-poured candles and homemade soaps, then you’re offering hand-poured candles and homemade soaps to your customers.
What problems does it solve for your customers and why does it matter to them?
The next step is often the biggest and most difficult part to nail down. This is your business's value proposition. It’s the main message you’ll use for your company branding.
A good place to start is by making a list of all the features your product offers to your customers. Let’s go back to our example of hand-poured candles. Your features list could look something like this:
- Fresh scents.
- Made by a small, local business.
Next, take the features you created and expand on what the benefits are for your customers.
- Fresh scents that are soothing and relaxing. Natural ingredients are healthy to breathe in.
- Small-batch means better quality.
- Customers get to support a small, local business.
Once you nail down your company’s features and benefits, use it to directly influence how you craft your branding.
How Branding Affects Your Customers’ Experiences
Now that we’re clear on what exactly branding is and how to form it, we can dive into how branding affects your customers’ experiences. In short, your branding will directly influence how your customers perceive your brand. Therefore, it’s important to tie the following two paths together: branding and customer experience. Think of your customer experience as an extension of your branding.
As we mentioned above, your branding is going to be focused on delivering messages about your company’s position and what your product offers to your customers. In this way, your branding will directly affect what your customers expect when interacting with your company and with your product.
Branding without thinking of your customer experience will not work since your brand comes alive only when customers start interacting with it.
According to a recent report from Forrester, only 18% of companies use their brand as the base for their customer experience strategy. To find success in your branding practices, you’ll need to fall within this 18%. Spend time speaking with your customers and learning from them. You’ll gain the tools you need to elevate your brand and appeal to your customers.
Since branding is tied so closely to customer experience, your branding can determine the value of your business, how often you can get new customers and how often you can get customers to return. When your business is branded properly, potential customers will be more inclined to trust your product.
Examples of Company Branding
Think of IKEA today and you’ll most likely think of affordable home furniture, do-it-yourself picking and assembling, and well-designed showrooms. It’s not accidental. This is how IKEA has chosen to position itself in the marketplace. This is the result of their branding and their customer experience.
IKEA is successful. From its beginnings in a small Swedish market to its booming business today, IKEA has learned and grown. Today, we can all learn from them.
IKEA didn’t just want to just solve problems for customers when it came to furnishing their homes. It wanted to set itself apart from every other furniture store in their market. IKEA wanted its products to be designed with the customer in mind. Its simple, straightforward designs work almost anywhere and never seem to go out of style. It also adjusted its operations to ensure low prices for everyone.
Let’s take a look at another successful business—Southwest.
Southwest is known for its low-cost, no-frills model. Their customers soak it up. This is the result of its branding.
In 2017, Southwest hit 45 consecutive years of profitability, and it is considered America’s second-largest US airline in terms of market share.
Here’s a brief breakdown of how Southwest operates.
Unlike many other airline companies, Southwest doesn’t allow passengers to choose their seats in advance. Southwest keeps it simple—you can check-in 24 hours before your flight. The earlier you check-in, the better your boarding group. On the plane, there are no first-class or preferred seats.
These customer-facing traits allow Southwest to keep its prices low and appealing. They still offer upgrades, but at a small upcharge to customers.
IKEA and Southwest operate in different industries, but their common ground is their branding initiatives. The actions each company took to propel them into the market as cost leaders.
How Packaging Affects Branding
Lastly, we want to touch on how your company’s packaging can affect your branding efforts.
Just like your products, your packaging speaks for your brand. Your box is the first physical piece of your brand that your customer will see. So don’t put your creativity on pause when it comes to your shipping box. There are quick and easy ways to create a design that grabs your customer’s attention, puts your company experience front and center, and cohesively shares your brand.
Adding your logo to your shipping boxes is a simple way to help increase your brand awareness. More eyes on your brand means more curiosity, which could lead to more business. In fact, 61% of consumers get more excited about receiving a package from that brand based on packaging, according to a study from DotCom Distribution. The study also found that when customers are happy with a brand, they’re more likely to recommend it to their peers.
You’ve worked hard to create your product, so why not take the time to make sure your product resonates and stays with your customers long after the purchase is complete? Remember that your branding is your company’s way of distinguishing yourself from other companies. You have the power to impact how your customers view your brand, and how far your brand stretches to other customers.
The journey of establishing and implementing your company’s branding efforts can be long and tricky, but the results are rewarding for both you and your customers. Proper branding can make your customer experience memorable and fruitful. We hope you grab the attention of new customers and keep your old customers coming back for more.