When as many as 95 percent of consumer decisions are made in the subconscious, the power of perception (and the ways it influences the subconscious) can be enormous. Branding taps into this consumer decision-making process, which means that even established businesses need to understand the ongoing, critical significance of branding.
Unfortunately, many business owners buy into myths about branding that will hurt their business in the long run. Here are three major branding myths debunked.
Branding myth No. 1: “Branding is important only when I’m growing.”
Don't underestimate your company’s strongest asset. Branding can account for as much as 30 to almost 50 percent of a company’s value. This is because properly executed branding turns your product or service into something distinct and unreplicated: the unique value that you offer your target audience.
In other words, branding is not only relevant but also critical at every stage of your business. In order to gain anyone’s attention, your brand must be relatable. Just because you’ve built a brand does not mean your target audience will flock to you. It must communicate your value and solution. If you simply face the world with a passionate idea, without investing in your brand, consumers will create their own perception of your business.
The risk? It might not be the perception you want or need. Take control of that story, and attract your ideal target audience. It might the one thing missing to catapult you into tremendous growth.
Branding myth No. 2: “I can’t afford that expense!”
Branding is not an expense. It’s an investment in an asset. Potentially, it’s your biggest asset, even if no one agrees exactly on how it’s valued. Brand equity includes components like consumer awareness, associated qualities, and loyalty. Although these intangible aspects are difficult to value, it doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t invest in this key asset. The best way to tackle the intangible nature of this asset is to grab your story and build it.
This raises the next logical question: how much should you budget for this investment? Our rule of thumb is to set aside 15 percent of your desired gross annual revenue and invest that in building your brand. This amount can then be applied toward a branding strategist, graphic and web designers, copywriter, marketing expert, social media expert, and related resources. Depending upon the amount of your budget, you may need to prioritize some of these aspects. Because a thorough brand platform functions as the foundation for all aspects of building your perception, start with a brand strategist who can articulate your overall brand strategy before you dive into logos and business cards and social media.
Branding myth No. 3: “Branding is too complicated for my business.”
Surprisingly, some people believe that branding complicates things, when, in reality, it’s more complicated not to invest in branding.
The perception of your business comes from the collective impact of several attributes. It’s more than a logo, a name, and packaging. Rather it is created by everything you do, show, and say (or don’t say) in the market. In other words, everything potential consumers see, feel, hear, smell, taste, or think (and even the things they don’t experience) contributes to their perception of your brand. Without branding, there’s no consistency across all of these different variables, which translates into miscommunication and misperceptions of your value and your solutions. If your target audience doesn’t fully understand your value, you’ve just complicated your business and hurt its ability to grow.
Invest in your brand strategy, no matter how “simple” you believe your business to be. Organize. Identify your story. Make it clear, cohesive, and repeatable. It’s less complicated to make future decisions based on a set of branding guidelines than to rehash your story every time you start up an advertising campaign or email funnel.
At my firm, BRANDING FOR THE PEOPLE, we organize branding into five structured phases to keep it simple and understandable. This methodical approach allows you to focus on brainstorming and exploration before worrying about ordering stationery or writing email funnels.
Branding is a multi-billion dollar industry. For good reason. Whether you are a start-up or seasoned entrepreneur, branding is the key, affordable investment that will keep you focused on your story, your value, and streamline your efforts to reach ideal, target audiences. Everyone will have an opinion on what is best for you. The challenge is to ignore common myths that, if unchecked, will prevent your success.
Re Perez is a seasoned brand consultant with a Fortune-500 background at global brand consultancies, including Interbrand and Siegel+Gale. He's also the CEO and founder of BRANDING FOR THE PEOPLE, a leading branding agency that has helped thousands of entrepreneurs across 45-plus different industries around the world, from emerging entrepreneurs, Inc. 5000 fastest-growing companies, and established multi-million-dollar businesses. He has a proven track record for helping clients double, triple, and quadruple their business revenue.