Does Branding Always Matter?

10 JUN 2010

A recent attendee to one of our courses asked an interesting question . . .

Does branding always matter? In a business where you rarely have repeat customers (an eco-hostel for example), is it important to focus on the brand or only if I want to expand?  – Justine

Yes, branding always matters. Branding is your connection to your customer. Understanding and communicating your brand is understanding and communicating exactly why you and your customers should be conducting business together.  Branding is key to generating sales in both the short and the long term, and it is the core requirement of effective marketing.

The process of creating a “brand message” requires several distinct steps:

  • Understanding who your customers are.  What properties of your customers lead them to buy from you? Do they have young children?  Do they have limited leisure time but lots of money?
  • Understanding how and where they look for the product or service you provide?  What search terms do they use on Google? What competing products and services do they purchase and how are they sold? What publications do they read? What locations do they frequent?
  • Understanding why your customers buy what they buy.  What benefits do they perceive your product or service providing to them?  Are you delivering the “greener” solution? Are you delivering the service that is most flexible?
  • Communicating the perceived benefits to the right people to convert them into customers.

In the case of an eco-hostel, your branding might about providing a better, more ecologically sound approach to travel housing. To be effective, your branding has to effectively communicate that message to your target market across a variety of media and do it consistently over time.  It will be visible in your signs, your ads, your brochures, your rooms, your staff etc.  You may also choose to “voice” by designing graphics that feature green and growing things.  You may put plants in every room and do container gardening on your hostel patio.

There are all kinds of questions that you need to answer in order to effectively brand your products.

  • What characteristics have my current customers shared to date?
  • Where have I found them?
  • What have they been doing when I found them?
  • What made them decide to buy when they did?
  • How much did they spend?
  • When will they buy again?
  • What price did they pay? Would they pay more? Under what circumstances?
  • Do they have a term they use to identify themselves? Soccer mom, business owner,
  • What products and services do they see as my competitors?
  • What do they read and watch? Where can they be found online?
  • What do they search for on Google when they are looking for what you sell?
  • Which of all your markets is the fastest growing and thus the easiest to grow with?

If you want to learn how important branding is, and learn to love creating good branding strategies that connect you to customers, read Tested Advertising Methods, Don’t think of an Elephant and Propaganda.  These “bibles” discuss brand building and the “positioning” of ideas, products and services in the human mind.  You can find them all in our bookstore.  They are three cheap books that will revolutionize how you understand your business and your customers.

Our Build Your Business Now Toolkit covers some important information on how to incorporate branding into your website and SEO marketing.  We deliver this training material at most events.

By the way . . . I don’t see why an eco hostel wouldn’t have repeat visitors from time to time, or why one guest wouldn’t refer many others which requires them to be happy enough to recommend the place. In fact, I think it might be a requirement for survival.