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What is branding and why does it drive growth?

What is branding and why does it drive growth?

Branding is often seen as a bit of a dark art, reserved for agency types with beards and converse shoes. But it shouldn’t be.

Since 2008, I’ve been lucky enough to work with hundreds of business leaders to either strengthen their existing company brand, or rebrand their company entirely to unlock their real growth potential. It sounds cliche and far too optimistic for the first Monday back after the Christmas break, but I bloody love branding. Helping businesses to unleash the potential of their brand is genuinely what gets me out of bed in the morning.

But one thing that remains constant in every new business we work with is that branding means lots of different things to different people. I feel our industry is somewhat to blame for this as we have a tendency to overcomplicate branding to either make us appear cleverer than we are (so we can charge more), or to cover up any gaps in our knowledge. That sounds cynical I know but if you Google ‘what is a brand?’ you’ll see what I mean.

So, with this in mind I’ve decided one of my goals this year is to share everything I’ve learned about branding in really simple terms. Over the next few weeks I’ll break down why branding is so crucial to business growth, and how to do brand strategy properly. Before we get into the detail I thought to kick things off I’d cover a couple of the big questions we’re often asked when discussing a potential rebrand with a business:

1. What is branding?

Your brand is the emotional perception of your business.

That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less. Our job as a branding agency therefore is to improve the perception of the business for both creative and commercial gain. We do this by really getting to know your business, your target audiences and your market, and then defining the perception which best suits your business goals.

And then we simply use compelling design and clever marketing activity to continually reinforce this perception in the market in everything you do.

2. Why does branding drive growth?

This one’s a little tricker as it’s quite hard to measure the impact of a rebrand. Some agencies claim to have worked out some nonsense way of doing this but it’s never 100% accurate. What we can look at is the impact our own work has had on business growth. Of the businesses we’ve rebranded in the last 3 years at Notepad (my branding agency), our typical clients experience 80% growth within 12 months of working with us. Some grow less, some grow more. Obviously, that sounds very boastful but it is true. I’m not saying all of that growth came from the work we did, but it certainly helped.

So with this in mind, I decided to have chats with around 15 of the business leaders we worked with to try and understand how our work actually unlocked growth for them. Here are the main things I heard:

  1. People understand what you sell so are willing to pay more, and buy more frequently from you.
  2. If you deliver a great brand experience, people will recommend you more to other people. Word of mouth is super powerful.
  3. Great brands have great employee cultures. People work harder and more effectively for businesses they care about. Plus they’ll stick around for longer.
  4. People are more likely to trust brands they’ve actually heard of. It’s a faster sales cycle.
  5. When branding is done well, marketing will cost less. Where marketing is all about pushing content out to people, branding pulls people in.

There are more, but ultimately the goal for your brand is to be the first choice in the market. When it comes to choosing between two businesses with indistinguishable products, the one with the strongest brand will win.

Thanks for reading and I hope that was useful. If you have any questions about branding please do comment below. I love healthy debate.

Next up, I’m going to break down brand strategy, and how to do it properly. If you’re keen to get more insights like this in your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter here:

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