What does the word ‘brand’ mean to you? Does it provoke a feeling, emotion or perhaps some form of desire to take action? Or perhaps you are immediately reminded of logos of Gucci, Coca-Cola or Apple? We often hear this word over and over again, yet most of us, at least in the business environment, struggle to understand something that is intangible but inherently beneficial.
Customers often turn into loyal fans and followers purely because of how a brand’s products or services make them feel. With so much power in something that is generally classed as only a branch of marketing, how can businesses not put more emphasis on their branding? Do larger companies like Google or Facebook know something that smaller businesses don’t? And if so, would they class branding as the final growth accelerator of their business?
Brand as a Growth Accelerator
When we hear the word ‘brand’, most of us will automatically think of logos. However, a company’s brand is more than just a logo. It represents how they are perceived in the world. Through a thoughtful and creative mix of the right tonality, typography, colours, imagery, logo, sound and many other attributes, a brand can instil many emotions in its audience and personify a company as a living and breathing entity. This personification is extremely important in the modern world, as businesses, like human beings, follow their purpose, and values and stand together for the right cause.
The world is the most connected it has ever been. It is also the most fragmented that it has ever been, with almost an infinite number of cultures, subcultures, beliefs, systems, and personalities. Each group has their own ideologies and supports causes that it truly believes in. Naturally, as an extension of their belief, they end up becoming customers of those companies that stand by them and support their beliefs.
Let’s take the example of Nike. Nike was originally known as Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS) and was founded in 1964. Between 1964-1966 their sales grew from $8000 to above $20,000 by selling Japanese running shoes. In 1971, BRS started making their own shoes and rebranded as Nike, with the Swoosh being patented in 1974. By1980, Nike’s sales grew so rapidly that they captured 50% of the market share in the U.S! By introducing the slogan ‘Just Do It’ in 1988, Nike cemented this as their core message to the world and helped the company go from $800 million to $2 billion in sales within a decade. 30 years later, anyone would easily recognise the ‘Just Do It’ slogan and remember the iconic Nike Swoosh.
Even though this would be an example of an advertisement, the underlying idea and philosophy can be traced back to Nike’s brand values which work as the company’s growth accelerator.
The Tech Secret
Everyone knows that if you want to make it big in Silicon Valley, all you have to do is create the next big app or tech product that changes the world. But, if that was the case, how come thousands of companies with world-changing products and solutions never quite always make it to the top?
What do companies like Apple, Facebook, Google, Oracle, IBM, and Amazon have in common? If you guessed, branding, you are correct! Tech giants spent an incredible amount of their money to cement their brands in the hearts and minds of their customers. These can be delivered via extremely complex campaigns involving melodies, and celebrities and creating massive hype, or can be as simple as a hyper-targeted ad in the right place.
Back in the day, no one knew Apple Computers. Then they launched their 1984 Super Bowl ad, and the world changed forever. Apple became synonymous with changing the status quo, breaking barriers, and creating simple yet world-leading technologies. This philosophy was cemented in Apple’s brand and is what accelerated the company to a trillion-dollar status. But the world has changed drastically since then, and competition is steep in the business sphere. This is not the early days of the internet anymore, and most companies have to struggle and fight for their way to reach their target market. Even investors nowadays are more likely to bet their money on a company that has better branding than its competitors, purely because the avalanche effect of the brand will work as a growth accelerator for that business.
Accelerating your business
There are quite a lot of things that can be learnt from the tech businesses that are dominating currently. Yes, I said ‘currently’ as I believe that the chances of smaller companies with better branding and customer loyalty could topple the biggest of businesses.
1. Invest in your brand to prepare for the future
With the recession fast approaching, tech companies that have invested heavily in their brand over the last decade will have created meaningful relationships with their customer base. Some of these customers would have become loyal and raving fans. During times of low cash flow and economic uncertainty, it is their raving fans that will keep buying from them over and over again.
2. Empathy is the way to go
Customers tend to be loyal to their favourite brands. But in recent years, steep competition has reduced the customer’s attention span. Customers will always choose the brand that fulfils one of their deep underlying needs. A brand that leads its messaging with empathy will likely appeal to new customers who are not happy with their current brands. Furthermore, exploring the previous example of the recession, brands that sympathise with their customers by offering their products and services at discounted prices, will create long-lasting relationships with their customers.
3. Create memories
When Airbnb first launched, people did not trust the platform. Staying in some stranger’s house was a wild idea. Almost a decade later, Airbnb is a company that people recognise instantly all around the world. The company’s founders took a design-centric approach and ensured a lot of resources go into the simple and elegant branding. The company’s ‘Connecting and Belonging’ philosophy has helped them list some of the most interesting, vibrant, and exotic homes across the world, helping create amazing memories for vacation goers. Naturally, Airbnb’s customer retention increases and end up becoming loyal fans.
This article hopefully brings into the limelight the value of brand as a growth accelerator for business that are scaling.
There is no doubt that many businesses will have to work much harder to sell their products and services in the coming recession. By strategically investing their resource in key areas like their brand, especially taking an empathy-led approach, could be the key ingredient in securing long-term relationships with the customers and ensure success.
We at Evolve, have helped reposition and rebrand numerous tech companies, going all the way from startups to large corporates spanning numerous countries. If you are interested to scale your business fast, reach out to us here!