When you brand yourself properly, the competition becomes irrelevant – Dan Schawbel
And this is one big reason why startups in particular should make branding an important component of their overall business strategy.
While a great product is good enough to garner customer’s attention and will sell on its own, it is very crucial to communicate to the world what you or your product is all about, what it does and how it can add value to people or businesses. It is a vital element that helps people form a connect with you and keeps them coming back for more.
Marketing guru Philip Kotler says,
The art of marketing is the art of brand building. If you are not a brand, you are a commodity. Then price is everything and the low cost producer is the only winner.
But in today’s dynamic times when innovation and many other factors come into play to determine where you stand in the market, can you really expect to be on top of the game by simply offering the lowest prices to customers?
Branding can offer many advantages to a startup, some of which are listed below:
It is said that “visibility creates opportunities”. And for a startup it is very important to become visible faster, so that they can convert that visibility into commercial success. It’s through branding that people know you exist and learn about your offerings. With proper branding you will be visible not just to your customers but also to investors and other stakeholders.
Branding is a must to establish a company’s individual identity since it reflects its character and personality and what it stands for. It is these values and beliefs that resonate with your audience and get them hooked.
Differentiation from competition
Take any industry and they are flooded with ‘me too’startups. So how do you differentiate yourself from them? Through branding you can set yourself apart from competitors and create your own niche by clearly communicating to your audience what gaps you are filling that make you unique.
It goes without saying that branding helps develop a sense of trust in the mind of your customers. Here’s an example. If you have sprained your ankle and go to the chemist, will you pick up a cheap unbranded ointment or will you settle for a reliable and trusted brand instead? I can vouch for the fact that most people will settle for the latter even if it costs more because their belief in the brand is strong. A strong brand helps not just to attract customers but also to retain them with their goodwill.
Keeps the customers engaged
Branding is important to garner the interest of customers since they are exposed to numerous brands on a daily basis and get influenced by them through their advertisements, both online and offline. There’s no way you can get their attention unless you get active on this front too and keep them engaged on a regular basis.
You should not be intimidated by equating branding with big budgets. You simply need to find a way to communicate effectively with your target audience and this is possible with the right brand identity, PR strategy and viral marketing tactics.