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How to Overcome 5 Misunderstood Parts of Business Branding

10 min read |  Posted Sep 9, 2022 | Updated 3 months ago

Originally posted on Jun 18, 2018

Create an experience that delights your audience and makes them want to continue working with & referring business to you.

Branding is one of the most misunderstood aspects of a business. Some think it’s just a logo, while others mistake it for marketing. While both of those play a part in your business’ branding, they aren’t branding. I will clarify five of the most commonly misunderstood aspects of business branding. Then you will be equipped to use intentional branding to accelerate your business’s growth.

Beyond the logo and marketing campaigns, your brand is how your target audience perceives the value you provide for the product or service you provide. Branding is the culmination of everything you say and do as perceived by people.

Branding is the culmination of everything you say and do as perceived by people.

Branding aims to establish a significant, and differentiated, presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers. In order to overcome this obstacle, you need to create an experience that:

  1. delights your audience
  2. serves them well enough so they keep working with you
  3. turns them to raving fans so they refer new business to you

Sounds simple enough right? Great! Let’s dive into 5 misunderstood parts of business branding.

1. Having a Clear Defined Purpose

“WHY: Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. When I say WHY, I don’t mean to make money — that’s a result. By WHY I mean what is your purpose, cause or belief? WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?” 

Simon Sinek, Author of the book Start with Why

I wish I could say it better, but Simon hits the proverbial nail on the head. Without a clear and well-defined purpose (or ‘why’) your company can’t expect onlookers to understand why, let alone how, you are different from the competition. It’s a bit of a head-spinning concept. But when done right, a clear purpose not only solidifies the message you project in your marketing but also unifies your team internally. If your entire team knew and supported the driving force behind your business, how much better would your customer service be?

How to Implement:

Rethink your mission/vision/purpose statement. Check out How to Write your Company Mission Statement by our friends over at Process.st. They analyzed 200 mission statements to show how to create the most impact. You may even consider reaching out to existing customers and asking, “Why do you do business with us?” The answers may surprise you.

2. Fully Embracing Emotion

It’s important to understand the underlying emotion your business, product, or service has on your customers because people are drawn to solutions that help them feel a certain way. Emotion can be used to help sell a product, create a community, or cause a reaction. It is also helpful in developing a message that permeates your entire business.

People purchase products and services for two reasons: how it makes them feel and how it helps others perceive them. If people purchased based on functionality and practicality, the world would look a lot different. This concept can be directly applied when talking about why people choose to work with one business over another.

Apple is a great example of this. They have an extremely loyal, near cult, following all because they’ve embedded emotions throughout their entire sales and marketing. When promoting the iPod back in the early ‘00s it was always marketed using a fun, carefree, and youthful vibe. Combined that with their imagery and message and you can clearly see they wanted their target audience to feel like Apple’s iPod was a way to escape from the dull and boring.

What customers really want from businesses is to feel like they’re heard and that you truly understand how to solve their problem. It’s that simple.

Embracing emotion isn’t just for large corporations either, small businesses actually have an advantage over large companies because they are much closer to their customer. The entire goal of embracing emotion is to make your customer feel like you are just talking to them and solving their problem. What customers really want from businesses is to feel like they’re heard and that you truly understand how to solve their problem. It’s that simple.

How to Implement:

Learn to understand the deepest motivation your customers have that causes them to seek out a solution. Ask yourself, ‘what problem am I solving for them?’ and ‘how do I want them to feel after purchasing?’. Harness the power of that emotion to foster a deeper and more cohesive, emotional, brand presence. I encourage you to check out the book Badass: Making Users Awesome, by Kathy Sierra, to learn more about being more customer-centric.

3. Encouraging Loyalty

Speaking of Loyalty, there are several benefits to creating raving fans. If you already have customers who love working with you don’t squander them away. Reward them and show your gratitude. Think about it – instead of choosing to work with any other business, they chose you.

Establishing a strong loyalty with customers is something all industries should be doing. The simplest thing is to reach out and simply thank them. And remember to stay true to your brand by doing it in your own special way.

If your customer is dissatisfied, reach out to them to understand their perspective. Don’t avoid the negative. Lean in and investigate the root of an issue and find a solution for them. Doing so can help avoid churn from other customers or alleviate hesitation from future ones.

Loyalty is a critical part of every brand strategy, especially if you’re looking to support sales. Highlighting a positive relationship between you and your existing customers sets the tone for what potential customers can expect if they do business with you.

Sephora is an awesome example of how building loyalty can boost a brand. They offer, arguably, one of the best loyalty programs for a number of reasons but the core reason they’re so successful is because they dug deep into what motivate’s their customers. Their loyalty program includes 3 tiers with varying levels of perks, plus birthday gift samples, and even experiences such as Meet and Greet events.

However, I do want to clarify, loyalty isn’t just built on creating elaborate rewards programs. Creating lasting loyalty is built on delighting your customer which can be achieved by the smallest acts of kindness.

How to Implement:

Get creative and let your team help brainstorm simple ideas on how to say thank you to customers. It can be as simple as a handwritten note or as extravagant as an exclusive after-hours cocktail party. A simple thank you goes a long way. This list of Customer Appreciation Ideas: 17 Ways to Thank Customers, by our pals over at HelpScout, is a great source of inspiration.

4. Creating Consistency

We’ve all witnessed it. You find a business then visit their website, Facebook page, or office and suddenly feel that bait-n-switch. The sinking feeling in your gut looms as you wonder “Is this the right place? Is that who I talked to?”

Creating a cohesive and consistent experience for your audience is essential. Your logo, website, social media, printed materials, and human interactions need to all make sense and be rooted in your core purpose (remember point #1?).

Here’s an example of the turmoil that comes from a lack of consistency. When Volkswagen released their first luxury car, the Phaeton, in 2004, to compete against other luxury brands like BMW and Mercedes there was something missing. While the car had cutting-edge features and amazing power, it was ultimately seen as a failure. Why? Because the name Volkswagen translated to “people’s car”. That’s how people perceived them. So when they released a luxury car (aka not a “people’s car”) they failed to implement consistent branding.

This story is similar to what happens with small businesses. It’s all to common to see a business try to look one way but their services, pricing, etc., don’t match up. The key takeaway is to make sure everything you do is inline with your core purpose.

How to Implement:

A great way to identify if you have a consistent experience for your customers is through surveys. Actually reaching out and listening what your customers have to say. Doing so can truly help you see areas of your business you haven’t yet explored. You should check out How to Design Customer Satisfaction Surveys That Get Results, by HubSpot, it’s super comprehensive and even provides some great templates.

5. Staying Flexible

As your business ages you need to stay aware of the world around you so you’re not left behind. There’s a fine balancing point between consistency and flexibility. You want to stay agile with changing times but not lose sight of your core brand.

Old Spice is a product most of us can remember our father or grandfather having in their bathroom because it’s been around since 1937. (Originally marketed to women, by the way! How crazy.) As they aged their classic white bottles became outdated. Regardless, they didn’t want to lose who they were. That’s when they teamed up with Wieden+Kennedy  to help reintroduce their timeless brand to new generations. And it’s been a success.

Remember to not stay stagnant, certain tactics and styles that worked in the past may not work now so you must be open to change. The best way to maintain flexibility is to not be afraid to try new things. It might be a little uncomfortable, but it will keep you in touch with the ever-changing world around you.

How to Implement:

A good way to stay flexible is by keeping an eye on companie you admire and your competition. watching how they adapt. Here’s 15 Strategic Ways To Ensure Your Business Is Adaptable from Forbes for some inspiration.


TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read)

Creating a solid brand for your business doesn’t have to be a muddy process. Branding is a culmination of 5 essential parts

  1. Having a clearly defined purpose – Your business needs to have direction so you do drift into the marketing abyss.
  2. Embracing emotion – Feelings can be powerful in creating a link between you and your audience.
  3. Encouraging Loyalty – Customers want to feel like you care and appreciate them too. Remember to show them gratitude in creative ways.
  4. Being Consistent – Everything that your audience can interact with will reflect back on their overall experience. Make sure you put your best foot forward
  5. Staying Flexible – Don’t let tradition overrule everything. Stay open to changing tactics and how your audience evolves over time.

If you’d like a little more insight and guidance we are happy to help build a solid brand strategy for your business. Tell us your story today.