The Power of a Strong Brand
In this article, we examine the actual effects, quantitative and psychological, of a strong brand.
"A brand is a voice and a product is a souvenir"
So often companies are started, and for justifiable reasons, neglect all aspects of design, brand, and overall appearance to the general public. Afterall, when you’re starting a business you are likely to be focused on how you’re going to sell to customers, how you’re going to balance your time, or how to get processes in place. Designing, or merely thinking about your brand seems like a far off task.
What many budding, accomplished, and transitioning businesses alike fail to see is the true power of a strong brand. A brand differentiates. It holds rational and emotional influence; it's why you demand a certain brand of coffee, only wear a certain line of clothing, or only buy electronics from a certain supplier. Each of those brands have connected with you on a deeper level, whether you realize it or not, and you have associated all feelings, experiences, and thoughts about that business with its brand.
Developing a brand early on is a canny business move. That's not to say that it is the only way a brand can be properly developed. In this article, we will discuss the power of brand - the quantitative and psychological effects of a strong brand.
How Does a Brand Affect us?
According to Psychology Today, each of us is subjected to anywhere between 3,000 and 10,000 brand exposures every day. You know just as well as anyone else that a business has very little time to attract the ever changing attention of someone. One might argue that this is attributed to the overall look or feel of an advertisement, but it goes farther than that. The clarity, message, and consistency play huge rolls in communicating what your brand and business is about. Colour, typography, placement, size, message, pattern, and more all affect the brain’s psychology but we are not concerned with the explicit details of branding, rather the undiscovered capability of a strong brand.
Brands that can successfully attract small moments of attention, communicate a consistent message, and then follow through with what has been promised, will achieve success far more efficiently and with less and less effort than those brands who choose to do the opposite. Obviously, time must be spent doing the actual service or building the actual product but time spent working on brand is time spent increasing business potential.
The clearer a business is with who they are and what they do they more able they are to do that work. Customers will see this, will be more likely to invest their time and money in a brand who is clear and concise and are more likely to recommend said brand to their family and friends. Let this point be proven by contradiction: If you were to stumble across a product or service that you absolutely loved how would you share this with your friends or family? Now imagine trying to share that if you didn’t know what that business's name was, why they started, who works for them, or how you were introduced to them. Without this information, your advocacy is merely a description of a product or service, that has no emotional or rational backing. So the coffee was good? So what? Ground beans and hot water is pretty hard to differentiate with no motive or meaning.
A brand gives a business the opportunity to explain themselves, tell their story, pitch to the public their reason for existence, and why the public should invest in them, whether it be buying their coffee or using their service. The thing to realize is that a business is inextricably linked to their brand. If you choose to neglect your brand it will be developed for you by the publics, some end up lucky and some survive long without putting any meaningful effort into it. The businesses that find success the easiest however, are those with a clear sense of themselves, and spill that into every aspect of their business and brand.
What are the actual effects of a strong brand?
Continuing with the coffee theme, we can draw insight from the founding of starbucks. The first Starbucks opened in Seattle in 1971. Three students who met at the University of San Francisco partnered up to form Starbucks. The first Starbucks did not even sell coffee, just the beans. At the time, the whole idea of speciality coffee was foreign. The founders focused on high quality beans and a unique roasting method. It is not the novel bean roasting nor clever market approach that gave Starbuck’s its success though. From the very beginning, the founders of Starbucks understood the power of Brand. One of the founders, Gordon Bowker, was a partner at an advertising agency and helped come up with the brand name because of a belief that words that start with “st” were powerful.
Over the next couple of years the speciality coffee market grew from just 3% in 1983 to 10% in 1986, all while total coffee sales shrank. Starbucks went on to IPO with 140 outlets and 73 million in revenue in 1992.
Since then Starbucks has continued to grow feverishly and remains one of the most loved and sought after brands. Despite Starbucks not having the highest quality coffee beans available as well as higher than average prices, people who are Starbucks customers claim conviction and loyalty to their coffee. Why? Because of the Starbucks brand.
How is a business supposed to communicate a novel roasting technique, high quality beans, humble beginnings, and a sense of community without a clear, consistent, and unique brand?
How is a business supposed to communicate a novel roasting technique, high quality beans, humble beginnings, and a sense of community without a clear, consistent, and unique brand? How is that business to survive and continue to communicate this message across borders and generations? Not without a brand. A brand carries the rational and emotional influence that so many businesses seek but fail to see why. Does starbucks have the best branding ever? No, that's not the point. The point is that anytime someone says Starbucks or you see that evergreen colour or “siren” (What Starbuck’s calls the lady with a crown) logo, you know exactly what to think and feel. That is the power of a brand
Okay but really, what are the actual effects?
Let's look at some numbers.
77% of B2B marketing leaders say branding is critical to growth. Brand managers focus on brand recognition and say that this is more important than anything else.
Consistency is key
Branding is tied to revenue
Strong brands experience 31% greater revenue growth and 3 times faster profit growth. That means businesses with strong brands grow faster and amount larger profits easier.
The key takeaway of this article is that your brand cannot be neglected. You must think about what you or your business represents, what message you want to communicate, and how you want to be remembered. The effects or power of branding is often intangible but very evidently tied to successful businesses. Consider branding crucial to how you build, grow, or strengthen your business.