Many moons ago, branding was nothing more than a name, logo or tagline, or a combination of these elements, that differentiated one company, product or service from another. Simple times. But not anymore.
While those elements remain central to a brand’s identity, true branding encompasses so much more. Today, branding is more complex, more involved and more impactful than ever before—which also means it’s even more important to invest in.
The concept of investing in your brand—specifically a good and enduring brand—is often misunderstood or taken lightly by business owners. This, in turn, hurts their business without them even knowing it. After all, how many times have we read about a high-growth company raising a $100 million, hiring over 100 employees, spending lavishly on expenses like a million-dollar office staircase, then hitting a pothole on the way to IPO and eventually having to cut their staff?
To think, for just .1% of that round of funding, they could have built a solid, enduring brand that:
If this story sounds familiar, you’re not alone. On The B2B Marketing Leaders Podcast, Tom Wentworth, CMO at Recorded Future, had his own spending regrets. “What are we going to do with all this VC money we just raised? Well, we better spend it on sales and marketing. Hire people. I don’t think that in retrospect that was right… I should have spent that money on branding, not people, to be honest with you,” said Wentworth describing the company’s earlier thought process. “I underappreciated the brand… I underappreciated creativity, and it actually hurt the company. I didn’t realize how important brand-building was because we didn’t feel like the kind of company we actually were, and I’ll never make that mistake ever again.”
At the end of the day, branding is a problem-solver. It’s not just about getting potential customers to select you over the competition. It’s also about getting them to see you as the only solution to their problem or need.
The obvious question remains: Why don’t business owners invest in branding? To get to the bottom of this frustrating phenomenon, let’s dive into the most common branding misconceptions, the truth behind them and the actions your business can take to avoid bad investment pitfalls and rise to the next level in comprehensive brand strategy.
If you’re a business owner, you may have expressed any of the following sentiments, to which we would reply:
Yes, you’re right. All businesses have a brand whether they invest in it or not. But is it intentional, thoughtful and strategically crafted to speak to your ideal audience? An enduring, intentional brand can work in your favor to bring in new business all on its own. Built strategically, your brand can create more trust before contact, warm up leads and get your company noticed, remembered and shared far more often.
So, when is a good time to invest in your brand? When you are ready to market, and you want that marketing to work for you. If you don’t know who your brand is or what your brand is doing, then any kind of marketing you do will simply not get you the business you need.
Branding is about standing out among the herd, sharing your real opinions about your industry, yourself, your colleagues and your competitors. It’s not an easy thing to do. Because when you’re out there, exposing your ideas and opinions, you open yourself up to quite a bit of attention—good and bad. Any extra amount of attention brings with it additional challenges that can take some getting used to.
If you’re ready to show the world what you think and reap the rewards, regardless of negative feedback, then investing some time and/or money on your business’ brand should be your next move.
If you’re playing the price game, then you’re NOT playing the branding game. Branding could never be worth the investment if you believe the cheapest price is what gets the sale—and if you’re constantly being asked to lower your price, you haven’t made a good case for why you’re worth more than your competitor.
The purpose of a deep, intentional brand is to draw your ideal customers in and get them to buy into your offer—regardless of price. Kirsten Green, Founder and Managing Partner of Forerunner Ventures, put it best: “Brand is much more about what you stand for and how you show up and the consistency with which you deliver that across a lot of touch points.”
We repeat: Branding is problem solving, and your brand should be the answer to your customers’ needs or problems. Premium pricing can only happen when you reliably and repeatedly deliver on a unique promise. And that strong brand you’ve built? That’s the promise itself.
Branding is also reputation building. Investments in your business aren’t always about getting an instant return on your investment. As Feargal Mooney, CEO at HostelWorld Group describes it, “Consumer trust in our brand is essential to ongoing revenue growth. Brand strength plays a key role in the ability to increase profits.”
Branding is an investment that slowly but surely helps maximize exposure and grow your credibility in your area of expertise. It may take time, but rest assured, it’s time well spent.
“Our key strengths: Our strong and distinctive brand,” boasts UK-based brewery BrewDog’s founder, James Watt. “BrewDog is the number one craft brewery in the UK. It has been the fastest growing food and drinks company in the UK for the last five years and the company grew its UK sales by a massive 97%. The secret to its success? Getting people to invest—both emotionally and financially—in its brand mission.”
Quite simply, the more focused and consistent attention you pay to your brand, the more results you will get from it. Stick to maintaining your brand, and your ROI will grow exponentially over time.
A great brand is born from your heart and soul and sweat and tears. Your brand needs be authentic to who you really are and the value you bring, plus communicate it in a way that strategically positions you for best success. The biggest challenge is articulating all of that in a concise and memorable way, and that’s something few people can skillfully do. Your brand is one of the most vital investments your business can make. Therefore, you should leave the branding wizardry to the pros.
Hopefully, reading this was a cathartic affirmation that your investment in branding was well worth the time, money and effort. Or, maybe this has caused you to pause and reevaluate what could potentially be costing you business or making your current work more of a desperate grind. If anything, we hope it’s inspired you to further build and invest in your business’ most valuable asset: your big, beautiful, strategic brand.
Already have ideas flowing? We’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org and be your partner in transforming your brand and inspiring action.