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How Important are Branding and Advertising for Your Business? (Part 1)

November 15, 2023

After reading Amanda Brewer’s last post on the SavvyGrapevine, “The Importance of Storytelling for Emerging Technologies“, it got me thinking.  I have been working with a lot of startup companies lately and there are so many things that they have to worry about to be successful. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart.  No matter how new you are to running your own business, everyone realizes that revenue is critical.  A very common question that I get asked is, “what can I be doing to increase my sales?”  

That’s a million dollar question if I ever heard one.  Unfortunately, the answer to that question will vary based on many different factors (just to name a few): 

  • Where are you in your growth path? 
  • How mature is your product or service? 
  • How many people do you have selling? 
  • How are you marketing your product or service? 

Now, even as I say this, there are a few things that I think every new company should think about early on.  I truly believe that your company needs to have a solid brand and advertising strategy.  You can have the best product or service in the world, but if no one finds out about it, you can’t sell it.   Sure, word of mouth is very powerful, but it’s slow.  A strong advertising machine will be akin to pouring gasoline on a fire. A memorable and attractive brand is your company’s identity.  It should represent what your company is, what it does and what it stands for.  The brand will define what makes your company stand out in a crowd and why people will want to do business with you.

So, my advice is before you run full speed into building your sales team and pounding the pavement, you take a step back and look at the following: 

  • What does your corporate logo look like?  Does it truly represent your identity and your brand?  
  • What is your value proposition? Will it solve a problem? Do people actually need it? 
  • What is your messaging strategy?  Can people understand what we do?  Can it be explained in a simple elevator pitch? 
  • What does my website look like?  How easy is it discovered?  Is it easy to navigate? 

These four bullets only begin to outline the work that needs to be done before your sales efforts will pay scalable dividends.  Once you have these things in place, your sales team will be armed with what they need to be successful in the early stages of your sales process.  This does not only apply to startup companies.  Some of the biggest companies in the world have made name and brand changes to affect their business.  In 2013, Fortune published a blog post named, “The worst (and best) company name changes“.  I won’t spoil it for you, but when you go read the article you will learn about companies like Blackberry and Google and some of the branding changes they have made over the years. 

In today’s digital world, your name, logo and website are your storefront.  It’s the first impression you will make in many cases.  It’s worth the investment to get it right early so that you don’t have to make a risky change later down the line.  In this article, we will identify some potential red flags that could indicate a branding update is necessary.  Then we will look at how branding can negatively affect your sales. 

Updating your branding is essential to stay relevant and appealing to your target audience. Here are some signs that indicate it might be time to consider a branding update: 

Outdated Appearance: If your logo, website, marketing materials, or overall visual identity look old-fashioned compared to your competitors or current design trends, it’s time for some spring cleaning!

Change in Business Focus: If your business has evolved, changed its products or services, or expanded its target audience, your branding should reflect these changes.

Inconsistencies: Inconsistencies in your branding across different platforms and materials can confuse customers and dilute your brand. If you’ve been using varying logos, color schemes, or messaging, it’s time for a brand refresh. 

Negative Perception: If your brand is associated with negative experiences, outdated values, or controversies, a rebrand can help you distance yourself from those issues and rebuild a positive image. 

Loss of Market Share: A sudden or steady decline in market share or customer engagement may indicate that your branding is no longer resonating with your target audience. Updating your branding can help you rebound with your customers. 

Competition Changes: If your competitors have updated their branding and appear more modern or appealing, it can help them pull ahead. An update can counter this. 

Technological Advances: Changes in technology and the way people consume information (e.g., mobile devices, social media) may necessitate an update to ensure your branding is optimized for current platforms and devices. 

Tarnished Reputation: If your brand has faced reputation challenges, a rebrand can be a way to signal change, growth, and a commitment to improvement. 

Ineffective Communication: If your branding materials no longer effectively communicate your unique value proposition or if your messaging isn’t resonating with your target audience, it’s time for a review and update. 

Legal Issues: If you encounter trademark or copyright challenges related to your branding, a strong PR campaign and branding update can save you.

Growth or Merger: If your company has grown significantly or merged with another, your branding may need to reflect the new entity, vision, and values. 

Customer Feedback: Pay attention to feedback from your customers. If they express confusion, dissatisfaction, or disconnection with your brand, it’s a clear signal that something needs to change. 

Design Trends: I don’t advocate chasing every shiny object in design trends but, if your branding looks dated compared to current design aesthetics, it might be time to modernize. 

Global Expansion: If your business is expanding into new international markets, your branding should be culturally sensitive and relevant to those audiences. 

Before embarking on a branding update, it’s essential to conduct thorough research, gather input from stakeholders, and develop a clear strategy to ensure that the changes align with your business goals and resonate with your target audience. Rebranding is a significant undertaking, so careful planning is essential for a successful transition. 

Keep an eye out for Part 2 of this series. In the next article, I will talk about how poor branding can negatively affect your sales and sales efforts if left unchecked.

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