Would you agree that having a strong brand is critical if you want your business to be a market leader? If you said yes, you’re in the majority…along with 86% of the professional leaders Hummingbird surveyed in 2021.
Our survey was part of a larger initiative to gain better insight into the attitudes and perspectives of marketing decision-makers with respect to branding.
What we learned was that the majority of our participants — all of whom hold authority to spend marketing dollars — believe in the value of strong branding. And most (76%) also strongly agreed that the time it takes to build a strong brand is worth the investment.
“In order to create a strong brand, a company must differentiate its product or service from others. This differentiation helps build a collection of perceptions in the mind of the consumer. Customers who believe in a brand spread the word about its benefits, increasing the value of the brand as an asset. Companies that do not live up to their brand promises to customers suffer.”
At Hummingbird, one of the most important connections we make with our customers is the link between branding and business value. It’s easy to think of a brand as logos, colors, and fonts, but it’s so much more than that.
A company’s core values, customer insights, archetypes, voice, and brand persona all make up its brand. When they’re presented cohesively, they make a strong statement about the value of the business.
Connecting Strong Branding and Business Value
Your brand is the outward expression of both how your company differentiates itself from competitors and how your company defines its culture. These are two very key elements of why a prospect will ultimately buy from you, so let’s start there.
Differentiating Your Company and Defining Its Culture
If you differentiate well and help prospects understand how your company culture complements theirs — and if you deliver your service or product well — then sales will increase.
Brand differentiation is, of course, setting yourself apart from the competition, and it goes hand in hand with company culture… the distinct personality of your brand. What makes up the personality of your brand?
- Your brand’s credibility - Can customers trust that your company will do what you say it will?
- Your brand promise - Does your company deliver on its brand promise with every interaction? The brand promise is the value or experience your customers can expect whenever they interact with your company.
- Your differentiating factors - How do your products and services differ from your competitors?
All of the above contribute to a brand’s personality. As you share your brand’s personality, including its differentiating factors, with customers and potential customers, you also impact brand awareness and loyalty…which directly impact business value.
Building Brand Awareness and Loyalty
“Brand awareness efforts give your brand a personality and outlet to be sincere, receive feedback, and tell a story. These are all ways that we, as humans, build trust with one another. The human/brand relationship isn’t any different.” - HubSpot
Brand awareness is a key component in a successful branding strategy, of course. And it’s directly linked to loyalty. When a company maintains a recognizable brand, customers feel more loyal…which means they’re more likely to buy from that brand again.
By creating and maintaining a recognizable brand that’s set apart from competitors by strong differentiators, a clearly defined personality, growing awareness and loyalty, companies can steadily increase their value and revenue.
Shifting Focus from the Leader to the Company
“Your brand isn’t your colors, and it isn’t what you say about yourself. Your brand is your values and how you act on those values at every point of contact. Which includes both your customers and your employees.”
Shifting the brand value away from the reputation of the leader to the reputation of the company means a strong company brand no longer relies only on one individual owner or executive. Instead, the brand extends to the entire team.
The change increases business value dramatically. At Hummingbird, we like to talk about transferable business value. The shift from owner to company is a necessary change to get the most value when you’re ready to sell your business.
Gaining Insight into Your Current Customers
How much insight do you have about your current customers? Insight provides the key to understanding what matters most to your customers.
It’s another important aspect of branding…one that businesses can easily overlook. When you have insight into your customer’s needs and the solutions you provide, you’ll gain:
- Brand vocabulary - Messaging that your whole team can use to talk about your company so that everyone’s on the same page and communicates in the same language about the solutions you offer your customers.
- Testimonials - When satisfied customers share their stories of how you’ve helped them, their experiences become powerful elements of your branding, offering proof that other potential customers can trust.
- Brand positioning that resonates with prospects - Together, brand vocabulary and testimonials position your brand in a way that resonates with prospects who are similar to your current customers and more likely to need your products and services.
When your company is positioned well in the marketplace, its value increases.
Speaking in the Voice of Your Customers (VOC)
It’s easy to get so immersed in your own point of view about what your business offers that you can sometimes forget to consider the customers’ perspectives. But speaking in the voice of the customer is one aspect of branding that helps differentiate your company from competitors.
Your customers are unique to you. They were drawn to your company because they:
- Identified with the testimonials of other customers,
- Resonated with the language you consistently use to talk about your services, or
- Recognized themselves when they first heard about your company culture
So, speaking in their language gives voice to their experiences, setting your company apart for what you offer and how you work. It also gives your customers a sense of ownership of your brand… in a way that transforms them into loyal advocates.
As you hone the voice of your customers more specifically, you’ll also differentiate your company more effectively. Stronger brand differentiation will help you start building monopoly control, which will then enable you to charge a higher premium for products or services…and will increase the overall value of your business.