How Important is Branding For Your Business?

Is an outdated brand undermining the rest of your marketing efforts?

Take an objective look at your brand, and be ruthless in this assessment.  An outdated brand is a reflection of you and your business:  no matter how good you are at what you do, a tired or poorly designed logo or website says outdated skills, outdated merchandise,  and will never attract the customers you are working so hard to target.

The point of today’s blog is not to showcase my own recent re-branding project, although I am very happy with the results and love to sing the praises of Janine Mayhew, the talented designer responsible for the logo and materials you see here.

Janine says, “I am always surprised by how little awareness otherwise smart biz people have regarding the impression they make with their logo and marketing materials.  Social Media gives us wide reach on multiple channels for FREE. The benefit of some professional design can make the most of this exposure.”

You said it, sister!

Good design is worth every penny, and bad branding is costing you business.[tweetmeme source=”helpmerhonda11″ only_single=false]

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About Rhonda Hurwitz

Rhonda Hurwitz is a content strategist and marketing consultant who helps mid-sized businesses develop more effective online strategies. @rhondahurwitz on Twitter, and on Forbes.com: http://blogs.forbes.com/people/rhondahurwitz/
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6 Responses to How Important is Branding For Your Business?

  1. slashcareer says:

    My have we gone through many discussions, debates and iterations on this theme. Your post is very important, Rhonda. I hope your re-branding efforts double your brand mentions throughout cyberspace :

    There is so much I could say on this topic, from my own hard-won experience. Where do I stat?

    I think our logo is well-designed. We had a professional designer do it. However, there has always been a problem with it. No one can pronounce our business name, “Gnosis Arts.” Those hat can pronounce it, can’t spell it. Those that can spell it, can’t remember the domain name. When the see the logo, they tend to think, “Arts … Gnosis?” because the “arts” sits on top of the “gnosis”. In short, they are confused by it grom the get go.

    Where it has worked in our favor is among intellectual types, educated types, liberal arts types. In the brand name, they see something special, something novel, worth thinking about. This, of course, is what we want. As a result, our chief demographic is a bit odd: higher educated people, with lower salaries. Andl small PR firms and marketing firms.

    Now, as for our webite, it has gone through more iterations in the 3 plus years we’ve been in business than I care to recount. I’m most pleased wth the current design. As I explained in the NY Times feature (http://s.gnoss.us/nytimes) we purposefully designed the site to allude to Wikipedia pages because Wikipedia writing is our chief service offering. However, there is a downside; now you’ve got a conflation of two different brands: ours and Wikipedia’s. Though this hasn’t been problemmatic for us yet, it is something that probably needs to be revisited.

    Our branding approach now has been less on logos and website design and more on customer service and client relations. This is where we’re trying to make our mark. Also, by creaing our Community Intranet for our VIP clients. The intranet contains experiments, PPC strategy we use, wikipedia tools and tips – basically, it is a storehouse of our best business “secrets”, for lack of a better term. This has actually been positive for our brand. It has created differentiation in our niche, because no other firm gives access to its internal documents so freely. No one gives access to their intranet, which is usually reserved for staff only. This helps promote our mission of “knowledge leading to freedom, the free exchange of knowledge to set your business free.” Hence, one of our slogans, “Once you know, then you’re free.” Which is what “gnosis” is all about: knoweldge, insight, revelation, freedom.

    I’d love to hear more from others in the she means business community on this.

    Eric Bryant, Director
    Gnosis Arts Multimedia Communications

    • Eric, I love all your comments and insights, both here and on Twitter. You are a generous soul.

      I would like to share a personal reaction to your branding, and I will contact you by email to do so. Suffice it to say that it is a good idea for doctors not to treat their families, and I have found that we as marketers can sometimes become too close to our own marketing and branding to be objective. It helps to get a fresh perspective from someone who is knowlegable but not as close to it. Not that I always follow my own advice, but still….

      Well, we’ll talk more about this soon, I am sure. Thanks as always for your comments.

      PS – sorry about the delayed reply, your comment was stuck in my spam folder.

  2. slashcareer says:

    We spent much of last year discussing branding for Gnosis Arts. I think it’s very important because in the long run, branding is what’s going to drive traffic, engagement, loyalty and affinity. Great post, Rhonda.
    (I had posted a much lengthier reply earlier, but it didn’t take. Porbably because I posted via moble)

    Eric Bryant, Director
    Gnosis Arts Multimedia

  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention How Important is Branding For Your Business? | she means business -- Topsy.com

  4. @slashcareer says:

    At my firm, we’ve spent much of last year thinking about our branding, asking questions about what branding is and how to do it. I started a forum thread about this at Business.Gov, and generated a lot of fruitful comments and discussion about the subject. I think that your brand ideations, in the long run, are what will determine your business success, more than any one factor. In companies that have been around a long time, I’ve seen that the brand is what drives the traffic, the engagement, the product/service loyalty – even the SEO.

    Thank you for a thoughtful post, Rhonda. Here is the capsule version of that discussion on branding:

    Thread Date: August 2009 – May 2020
    As starter of this thread, I am now returning some months later to post some results and anecdotal evidence about our branding efforts.

    As I mentioned in the thread, we have been trying a new idea for branding: the Gnosis Arts Community Intranet. The Intranet is where we house many of our effective, valuable Internet marketing strategies, tactics, tips and techniques. It talks about our Wikipedia writing process, PPC campaign management, has a (small but growing) code library, a few PhotoShop tutorials for non-designers. In short, there’s a ton of really good information that a person would probably have to spend weels or even months scouring the Web to find.

    Our brand strategy was to open this Intranet up to our valued customers. Customers who purchased certain services would be granted VIP access to our Intranet (you need a username and password to access the Intranet). Our reasoning was that, no other companies were doing this; no others were being so open with their most effective “trade secrets”, if you will. As a result, this would help to create differentiation and uniqueness – two essential branding concepts.

    My first attempt was to run display/banner ads for this Intranet service. This proved to be unsuccessful. After a few additional attempts to market this brand, I sort of put it on the back burner to focus on other operational items. I had sort of resigned myself to the belief that the “Community Intranet” idea was really going nowhere.

    But recently, we’ve acquired two excellent accounts that have resurrected the Intranet-as-branding idea. The clients – both patrons of our Wikipedia writing services – wanted “Wikipedia tutoring”, so to speak. That is, they wanted us to teach them how to write Wikiscript, all the ins-and-outs of Wikipedia publishing, etc.

    So, I told them that, as “VIP” clients of Gnosis Arts Multimedia, they had already been granted privileged access to our Intranet, where we discuss such matters in depth. I gave them both the username and password to the Intranet and assured them that it would cover the majority of questions they had and information they really wanted.

    One of our clients – the CMarie Marketing Group – was so impressed by this that she wrote us the following review:

    “Not only “the only”, but also “the best”
    Connie, CMarie Marketing Group (guest) 24 May 2010, 16:47 -0-400

    You are not only probably the only service of this kind, but also the best. You know exactly how to write, submit, and get posted on Wikipedia. I have a list of more client projects ready to send to you.”

    And for the other client, offering the Intranet as a “free” add-on helped our sales team make the sale.

    And, according to our internal analysis, we have seen a slight, but noticeable, increase in the weekly average of mentions of our brand(s) across the Web. Now, this is not solely due to the Intranet, but now I am no longer seeing the idea as a failure, and as more of a success.

    Also, I want to make one further point. I think too often marketers focus on branding in terms of logos, slogans and images. I think that the best logos and images won’t accomplish successful brand if your product/service stinks. Also, if you don’t maintain a commitment to superior customer svc., the best imagery and brand ideation that money can buy won’t mean anything.

    What people, prospects, connect to initially, isn’t your images and slogans, it’s how you treat them, how their experience of your business makes them feel. How do they feel as they are negotiating with you? How do they feel when they are on the phone with a cust. svc. agent? How do they feel when you present to them the deliverables? How do they feel when they pay the final invoice?

    …Focus on these questions, and not superfluous questions of “what’s our logo gonna be” – and then you will be building a solid brand.

    Notice that our Intranet has nothing to do with imagery, or logos. We do have some text in there relating to slogans and so forth, but it’s mostly just raw, hard data and useful info. It isn’t about a fancy Flash video or a website with a bunch of bells and whistles. The Intranet is a tangible thing; clients can play with it, go in there and get the goodies. The Intranet is all about making them feel like they’re special, when they get in there, like they’re privileged. Because we want them to connect positively with us – our business, and our people.

    You can read the full forum thread here: http://community2.business.gov/t5/Other-Business-Issues/How-Does-A-small-Business-do-Branding/td-p/6523

    • Eric, your intranet example is great because it speaks about “delighting customers”, of going beyond expectations. IMO, success rests on this more than almost any other factor. This creates customer loyalty, and developing a current customer is a much more efficient way of growing business than having to acquire a new one. So you are exactly right…for staying power, a brand must go beyond the initial image and deliver the goods. (Of course, an off-putting brand image can be a impediment to initially getting people in the door, so ideally you have to do both…create an inviting brand AND follow through). Thanks so much for commenting! (PS I apolgize for the delay in reading your comment…it was caught in my spam filter!)

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