Branding Works, Just Not In The Way That You Think

The act of developing and building a brand identity is a hotly debated topic. Some claim it to be the best business endeavour. Others believe it’s nothing more than just a glorified advertising campaign. Well, the fact that you’re reading this indicate that you believe branding works. Or at least you’re curious to see if it really does.

Woman using a megaphone conveying a mass message across to two men that branding works. The two men covering their ears from all the noice in an open field.
Branding is more than merely shouting your message across to your audience. – Image by Sasin Tipchai, Pixabay.

What’s Branding All About, And How Exactly Does It Work?

Branding, as the name suggests, is the action of developing and building an identity. Usually associated with a business, a product or a service identity, it helps differentiate you from your competitors. It’s not just blasting your business identity out at every opportunity (although that sometimes helps). It’s more of a subtle way of telling your audience who and what you are. It differentiates your business from your competitors. Remember, you don’t sell a generic commodity, like plain granulated table sugar. You sell a “branded” product, like a branded food sweetener.

If everybody sells a generic commodity, then there’s no motivation for consumers to purchase the commodity from you. It’s gonna be an all out price war, and nobody’s gonna benefit from that… Well, the consumers will, at least for the short term. But once the businesses get affected, and eventually shut down, even the consumers will stand to lose out too.

High angle view of an offshore oil platform, with a tanker beneath it. Petroleum itself is a commodity, hence branding works. Customers don't just buy "oil". They buy a branded petroleum product.
Commodity, like petroleum, bears the full brunt of the market forces. Its market price can fluctuate wildly, depending on economic factors like supply and demand, and on the politics of the day as well. – Image by David Mark, Pixabay.

If branding works, why does it work, and more importantly how does it work? How does attaching an identity to your business or your product help you to succeed in your business? It’ll be easier to explain with the help of an example.

Branding A Florist Business

Let’s take an example that you’re running a florist business. Your retail outlet is located inside a mall, directly facing another retail florist. You both essentially sell the same products and services. Hand bouquets, flower baskets, wreaths, party decorations, and even the occasional potted plants. You both also sell them all at the same price too. So when it comes to the actual business, nothing makes you stand out from your competitor. And because they’re conveniently located right across your front door, potential customers will be faced with a dilemma. They’ll have a hard time deciding who to buy their flowers from.

A florist shop, with two workers tending to the flowers stock.
A typical florist retailer, selling anything and everything related to flowers and decorations. -Image by Анастасия Гепп, Pixabay.

In a real life scenario, the business volume will probably be divided equally between the two of you. The “problem” is that your revenue will essentially be halved of what you can potentially earn. So how do you attract more customers to buy flowers from you, and not from your competitor across the aisle?

So how do you attract more customers to turn left, into your shop, and not right, into your competitor’s shop? In fact, can it even be done at all?

Branding Works, And Here’s How You Do It

First rule in branding is to create an identity. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a business identity, or a product identity. What’s important is that people know who you are. It doesn’t matter that you’re essentially selling the same generic commodity as your competitor. But it does matter that they know who they’re buying their generic commodity from. Here are steps to take to build your brand identity, and ultimately, conquer a bigger slice of the market share :-

(1) Create Your Unique Identity

Make sure that potential customers walking past your retail outlet know who you are. Your business name, logo, colours, font type, retail front decorations, friendly staff, signature smiles, anything that makes you stand out. At this stage it’s not about the sales yet. It’s about standing out from your competitors.

A "Hello My Name Is..." sticker, with the name John Smith written on it. Your identity is your brand, because branding simply works.
Identify yourself, and make it known to your audience. Stand out like a unique individual that you are. Don’t blend into the background, and be just another unknown, unimportant, extra character in the crowd.

(2) Distribute Freebies To The Shoppers

When I say distribute freebies, I don’t mean literary giving away things of value, like your merchandise. What I’m referring to here is knowledge. Everybody knows knowledge is power. And they also know that knowledge is absolutely free too (well, in this context it is).

Share free information with shoppers, regardless whether or not they’re your potential customers. Information regarding your industry, your products, or even topics of interest of your potential customers. Share information about certain flowers and their meanings. Give video tutorials of flower arrangements. Maybe even blog about how giving flowers historically came to be. Anything and everything to further cement your apparent expertise in the floral industry.

A tablet being held up, showing a visual display of words like blog, media, share, comment, like, community, etc.
Blog about it, post it on social media, share it with anybody and everybody, even if they’re not your target market. At this stage, all you want to do is to make a lot of noise. – Image by Creativeart /

(3) Link Them All Back To Your Brand

Start a blog and social media accounts for your business. Then share all these information on these platforms. Allow free access to these information, but have them all point back to your platforms, your brand identity. Make it known that it’s your brand identity that’s actively sharing all these information with the masses.

(4) Keep It Coming, And Keep It Consistent

And finally, keep on doing what you’re doing. Make it a point to let the general public know that you’re sharing all these information, and more, on a regular basis. Keep them coming back for more.

This stage is when your audience, the general public, associate your brand with these knowledge that’s so freely being shared. They know that you’re the one sharing all these information (though free, but appreciated by your audience). Give them time for the fact to sink in and take effect.

A top down view of a corporate meeting table, with a table planner calendar in the centre. Discussion in the progress, deciding on the interval of publishing fresh contents.
Set an interval to publish fresh contents that you’re comfortable with, mark it down on your calendar, and commit to it. Because nothing enhances a brand image than consistency. – Image by rawpixel, Pixabay.

The Result?… Branding Actually Works!…

What you’re actually doing is to essentially plant the identity of your brand into the audience’s subconscious. Serve it to them even when they’re not in the market to purchase any flowers. And when it comes the time for them to purchase flowers, your brand identity will automatically come into their minds. People generally prefer to purchase something from somebody that they know, rather than from somebody that they don’t. And being familiar with your brand alone is more than enough to influence their purchase decisions.

When you brand identity is popular enough, total strangers, first time customers, will know that you’re associated with flowers. They’ll assume that you’re the expert in the floral retail industry. And they’ll choose you over your opposite neighbour when it comes to actually making a purchase for flowers. It doesn’t matter whether you both sell the same products, and at the same price too. People tend to buy from businesses that they know… or in this case, they think they know…

A woman holding up a pot of colourful flower arrangement, admiring it attentively.
When the general public thinks of you as the authoritative figure on flowers when they’re not even in the market to buy them, guess who they’ll turn to when they’re in the market to buy some? – Image by Jill Wellington, Pixabay

Henceforth, Branding Works, And It’s Proven

The secret to it all is to keep promoting your presence, even when you’re not looking to close a sale… Especially when you’re not looking to close a sale. And if you appear genuine in sharing all these “valuable” knowledge freely, your trustworthiness just went up two notches.

And when it’s time to close the sale, you know that you’ll have the edge over your competitor. You know that all the hard work you’ve invested into establishing your brand identity will start cashing in. And by then, you just trust that branding works…

So What Do You Think?… Will Branding Work For You?

Branding works?… You bet it does!… And if you’re not too sure how to go about branding yourself, buy us a cup of coffee, and we’ll be more than happy to share with you how to brand yourself. No commitment necessary, just feed our caffeine addiction will do…

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