You’re finally in a place where you want to grow your business. Exciting times!
If you’re wondering: “Should I invest in lead generation and sales efforts?” The simplest and shortest answer is – yes, of course. No sales–no customers, no business!
Whether you’re just getting started or need a rapid boost, when you want more business, you need to generate more sales. So that’s where you put your money: sales activation. And the return on the investments you make are likely fairly easy to gauge (e.g., we spend x on this conversion-oriented ad, y people sign up for a demo, and z subscriptions are sold).
But what about brand-building efforts? What do those actually produce for the business, and should you bother with it at all?
What We Mean By Great Branding
The words “brand” and “branding” are often bandied about in business circles–particularly marketing and design circles–in a very authoritative, and yet vague and somehow slippery, way.
So what are we talking about here?
Your brand is way more than your logo or your color palette.
Your true brand lives in the associations, interpretations, and experiences people have when they interact with your organization, your offering, and your messaging.
And branding is the process of trying to create a specific collective association with your brand.
As an easy example, what do you immediately think and feel when you see the Apple logo? When you see someone using a Mac, what do you feel? What do you assume about that person? Do you identify with them? Are they maybe hip, or creative, or a fan of good design? Or maybe you assume they’re pretentious, or a follower, or even a “cult member?”
The point is, you probably immediately associate some set of qualities, simply because of the symbol on their computer.
That’s the power of branding.
And while there are very few Apples in the world–and your business is not likely going to become one–you can still harness that power.
Why More Businesses Don’t Invest In Branding
So if branding is so powerful, why don’t more businesses invest more into it? Well, there are a few main reasons, and most of them boil down to having a sales-oriented mindset.
Traditional sales-driven organizations tend to invest their money in “marketing” activities that can be directly linked to sales performance, if not directly driving sales themselves.
Sometimes this is in the form of sales enablement assets like promotional materials, brochures, folders, white papers, and the like.
Sometimes it’s in the form of direct marketing (those sales activation efforts we discussed at the beginning).
And of course, sometimes it happens that way because it’s a startup who has to answer to its investors–and investors are looking for rapid growth. So any branding-driven strategy that’s geared toward the long term and isn’t designed to produce directly attributable results doesn’t get a fair shake.
Whatever the reason, it’s easy–and common–for businesses to end up failing to invest sufficiently in building their brands.
What Great Branding Can Do For You
And it’s a shame, because successful brand building can provide a ton of value to your business–including some benefits you just can’t get without it.
Among other things, a great brand can:
1. Give your business personality, which can help your message resonate with your potential (and current customers).
2. Help you stand apart from other businesses. People are inundated with messaging, and it takes a well-crafted message and brand (and often some repetition) to cut through all the noise.
3. Build positive associations. Sure, sometimes you want to stand out, but sometimes you want to be associated with another brand and use some of that brand’s equity (again, think of all the companies that make accessories for Apple products whose name starts with a lowercase “i”).
4. Keep you top of mind. You’re not always going to reach people in their exact moment of need. So when that moment does come for them, you’ll want to be easily remembered.
5. Build trust. Assuming they do remember you when they have a problem you could solve, they’re more likely to turn to you if they’ve already received some kind of value from you–whether that was useful advice or just a good laugh.
6. Improve your sales efforts. Yes, the ultimate benefit of brand building is how it makes those sales activation efforts we keep mentioning more efficient and more effective over time.
We get it. Direct marketing and sales activation are the easy and obvious investments to make. But branding and brand building are critical components of a successful and sustainable long-term growth strategy.
Of course, creating and implementing an effective brand strategy is quite an undertaking, requiring a fair chunk of time and involving a lot of different ingredients. For a comprehensive (and fun) guide on making your own, check out Recipe for a Successful Brand.
And if you have any other questions, let’s chat.