Branding and a brand are what gives a business growth. Branding goes beyond simply being a logo or a graphic design element.

The perception of a brand is no longer based solely on the quality of the products it supplies or produces. Branding encompasses the entirety of a business, from what you sell, to how you market yourself, to how your staff answer their phones.

Your brand is the way the customer sees you.

Importance of branding

1. Helps promote recognition

If applied correctly, a logo could represent your business, think of Nike, Starbucks or even Audi. But branding is more than just a logo, it is the warmth of your staff, the whole customer experience.

Retailers such as John Lewis have built their reputation as a family brand: they are safe, reliable and trustworthy. After all a good brand is something a customer will purposefully ask for, something they will willingly pay extra money for, because it comes with a guarantee.

2. Sets you apart from your competition

In this age of constantly new startups, if you have a niche, you won’t be alone in it for long. There is always someone nipping at your heels, so you must keep finding points of difference to set you apart from your competition.

How you brand yourself is one way to do that.

A positive image is the best reputation you can hope for. A brand built on reliability, trustworthiness and simplicity is the order of the day. A recent survey suggested that consumers are 61% more likely to recommend a brand because it is simple.

You are no longer competing with just local businesses, you are now competing on a global stage and there are a lot of voices, just as compelling as yours, to turn customers’ heads.

3. Your branding is your DNA

Where you retail your products, how customers find you online and their first contact with you are vital to creating a great and lasting first impression. Are all of these entry points telling the story you want to be told?

Your branding is who you are: think who you want to associate your brand with. If you have your products stocked in Fortnum and Mason, you will be viewed as a luxury item. If you choose to go wholesale and have your products stocked in every corner shop is great for exposure, but it lowers your exclusivity. Think how you want to be perceived.

4. People love to share

Word of mouth is the best marketing there is. Think of the last conversation you had with a group of friends. Were you admiring someone’s new watch? Playing with a phone? Drinking a new lager? Going to the shops?

We love to recommend brands to others, we also love to be the one to find that new brand. But if people can’t remember you, they won’t be able to tell all and sundry about you.

Think about this when you’re coming up with your name, your logo, what it is you do or sell. Can you sum it up in a sentence? Is it immediately obvious to someone not in the know?

KISS. Keep. It. Simple. Stupid.

5. It keeps you focused

Great branding isn’t all about the customer. It helps keeps you on track and not disappearing down too many rabbit holes.

If your branding is clear and simple it should keep you heading towards your goals. Clear and simple branding help you stay focused with your marketing strategy too, ultimately saving you both time and money. 

Why branding should be kept simple

Customers love a simple brand, it keeps life easy. Think Amazon, Google or even Greggs.

They all do what they say they will do. They do it quickly, they do it efficiently and there are very few surprises. If you want something delivered today, at a competitive price, search on Amazon and place your order. If you want a hot, fresh, tasty pastry that won’t cost you the earth, go to Greggs.

These companies simplify the customer experience, making it pleasurable, easy and worth repeating. These qualities drive growth, build brands and turn small companies into hugely successful ones.

Simplicity quite literally drives a company’s performance.

According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, the top 10 global brands in 2015 all had one thing in common: each fulfilled a consumer need quickly, sometimes instantly, and with minimal fuss and friction.

63% of consumers are willing to pay more for a product to get a simpler customer experience. 69% are likely to recommend a brand just because it provides a simple experience.

These statistics can’t be ignored, if anything they should be the incentive you need to refocus your branding efforts.

Companies with simple branding

Top ten simple brands (2016)

  1. Google
  2. Netflix
  3. Zappos
  4. Amazon
  5. Amazon prime
  6. Dunkin Donuts
  7. MacDonald’s
  8. Trader Joe’s
  9. Pandora
  10. Subway

Creating a brand style guide

The easiest way to ensure your brand stays on track is through the creation of a brand style guide. This is a document that describes how your brand sounds and looks, so no matter what media you’re sharing your brand on, it will always remain the same.

You could have a brand style guide for both visual and written elements of your brand to ensure your shape, style and colour scheme remain the same, always, and that your messaging is consistent too, both in print and out loud.

A brand style guide also determines the voice of your brand and the tone used to convey your messages. It could even contain words and phrases that should be used (and must be avoided).