What branding means and what it can do for a (smaller) business

What branding means and what it can do for a (smaller) business

 
U92
Published Jun 06, 2018
Category: UX Design
U92
Published Jun 06, 2018
Category: UX Design

A successful logo is often romanticized by consumers and corporations alike as a beautiful work of art (which it is) but it can also communicate a brand’s core values and usually has some hidden messaging behind it.

More often than not, most people forget that a logo is part of a larger brand identity that is meant to communicate many things including emotion, a mindset and a banner that people can unify under. It is a core structure under which guidelines are established in order to communicate a consistent message across each platform a business uses and product it offers.

A strong brand can make a lasting impact and inspire others

“It’s a complicated and noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. That chance to make a memory is the essence of brand marketing.”
Steve Jobs, Apple Founder

When you create a brand, you are also creating a following that is united by a mentality and/or product. It can become a way of life for some. Apple Computers did exactly that when they debuted their 1984 Apple Macintosh ads showcasing the complete disruption of the Silicon Valley status quo during that time. It was the beginning stage of what would eventually go on to shape multiple generations of graphic designers (both print and digital), industrial designers and programmers, and ultimately changed the way we (the masses) communicate with one another.

Apple also challenged their competitors by forcing them to rethink their brands as living entities that needed to be nurtured and become far more relatable to their users and future consumers. Companies in competition with Apple started to look at their brands’ direction and future in order to better position themselves by grabbing a slice of the tech pie that was relevant to their portion of the market. Not only did a strong brand developed by Apple help shape the way we communicate today, but it also forced businesses to rethink where branding stood on the priority list.

A brand is the foundation of any business

“A brand is not just a pretty logo—it’s a mindset that needs to be instilled and adopted across the board from the beginning. The brand experience starts when a guest arrives and is greeted at the door, and ends when they are smiling out the door. It’s a domino effect from that point on.”
Sébastien Poucant, Co-owner and Manager at Le Bon Vivant

A strong house is built on a strong foundation. If it isn’t built on a solid base, the house will collapse under changing weather patterns or the weight of renovations as the years go on. The same rule applies when establishing a business. A weak brand will collapse under the slightest market change or the weight of a business’ progression from year to year.

A brand is essentially a company’s foundation and main pillar. It encompasses all of the key elements that a company should represent when trying to communicate its values to their target markets. These elements impact the consumer and/or user. Today, consumers don’t just buy into brands, they live for them and in some cases they cannot live without them. If a brand’s foundation is properly built, these consumers become loyal advocates and ambassadors, which leads to more brand recognition, increasing a brand’s equity and ultimately resulting in more revenue and opportunities.

Everyone has that one store, restaurant, gadget or branded product that they either simply cannot live without or always go back to because of the experience they’ve enjoyed. One of my examples is Le Bon Vivant at 2705 Notre-Dame St. W. here in Montreal. The restaurant business is extremely competitive, yet there are only a few that understand what a brand really means in the grand scheme of things. For Sébastien Poucant, Co-Owner and Manager, he understands that the experience is the brand when it comes to turning a hidden gem into a culinary stop on the Montreal food scene. If you don’t show each and every guest a personal and enjoyable experience, you’ve failed to provide the very essence of what makes a restaurant successful. With an experience-driven mindset, which was adopted by all waitstaff and kitchen staff alike, the restaurant went from turning 20-40 tables a night to over 100 tables a night.

How can good branding help smaller businesses?

Take Montreal’s Saint-Henri neighbourhood as an example. This sector has gone through a tremendous transformation over the last 10-15 years and more recently has started to see new businesses take up storefronts from Atwater Avenue all the way to Courcelle Street. There has been significant pushback from longstanding locals in the area, which has hurt some smaller businesses by ultimately pushing them out but those that have revamped, adapted and planned accordingly have gone on to position themselves as community establishments for both the old and new guard in the area.

What is most important to remember?

When we think of smaller businesses, what makes them successful in the eyes of consumers when they are constantly bombarded with digital advertising on any given day? In the age where information is consumed on a minute-to-minute basis, consistency is the most important thing to remember when establishing a foothold in any market or region. Without it, people lose interest. If your brand’s message is consistent and follows that structure through and through, your message will be evenly communicated. I consider Instagram to be a key success factor for most businesses that boast a healthy online visual identity. This platform is not only a place to post delicious pictures of #foodporn but can also act as a showroom for the work your business does, as well as your office culture, vibe and product diversity, and is an overall window into who and what the business is.

It may sound far too simple, but overall feed consistency on something as small as an Instagram platform (and I say small because first comes all of the other things that make a business successful, i.e. a business plan, the right people and talent, a realistic and in-demand product and/or service—the list goes on!) can make a significant impact on how current generations, which will be the future of any business today, view a company’s product. It adds to a brand’s equity and perceived success in the eyes of current and potential consumers.

A strong brand reflects what a business is from A to Z. Brands become mission statements that are practiced in real time. Businesses large and small should consider the importance and impact a strong brand foundation can make. It is a core and integral element for the future and overall success of any business, product or platform. Plus, building brands is a lot of fun!

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