“Your brand is typically the first thing a customer notices about you, especially in the digital space,” says Jennifer Hodrodge, owner of JH Communications in Troy, Michigan. Hodrodge, who offers digital and marketing strategies to small business owners, says a company’s brand “is a reflection of you.”
For example, a cluttered or unfocused web site could prove a turn-off to potential customers. This is true “even if the products and services you offer are the best available,” she says.
Max Traylor, whose company MaxTraylor.com advises companies how to productize their services, says every business needs branding, “but the concepts have changed.” Traylor says that in today’s world, “great brands define how they help people solve their problems and make valuable decisions, even if that means [the customer] doesn’t buy something from the branding company.”
This shift was caused by a “new kind of buyer who needs to trust companies to make the right decisions,” says Traylor. To establish a brand in today’s fast-paced, tech-savvy world, it is paramount for a company to decipher what their customers need and what questions they need answered. “If a company has a problem and they come to you for help to resolve it, that’s your brand,” says Traylor.
Therefore, he says, “A brand is more than a place to buy something but a place to help you decide what to buy and even if you need to buy” something to help resolve the issue.
Branding sets the tone for what the business does. “If you’re online and someone visits your site, what is it that you want them to see right away?” posed Hodrodge.
Tips for tinkering with a brand The time to consider refreshing a brand is not necessarily when a company introduces a new product or service. That could easily confuse would-be customers, a business no-no.
According to Hodrodge, a small business might consider refreshing its brand when:
The products and services proffered by the company have changed dramatically since the brand was established
The team of people offering a company’s products and services have themselves undergone a seismic shift since the brand was implemented. For example, if a partnership was created out of what was once a sole proprietorship, a brand change might be in order to more accurately reflect the changes the company has experienced
The industry your company primarily serves has experienced dramatic changes since your brand was implemented
A company’s target audience has changed since the brand was initiated. Perhaps potential customers are growing up or getting older. If that’s the case, it is probable their interests have changed, too. That means it’s wise for a company servicing them to recognize that and adapt
According to Traylor, other factors company leaders should ponder when determining whether it’s time to retool a brand include:
Deciphering the problems or challenges causing buyers to need answers or resolutions
Determining how you and your company can consistently provide those answers so customers keep coming back. Methods designed to entice customers to keep coming back include the offering of webinars, a blog, video Q and A’s and in-person events, to name a few
Endeavoring to ensure people are constantly finding value in what your company says and does
“Clarity is critical” when communicating a brand, says Hodrodge. “Be clear in what you do and understand what it is the audience wants from you. You can have the best product in the world but if there is no need for it, it won’t matter how well it’s branded,” she said.