Branding is perhaps the most over used word in business. I can totally understand why; there’s so much fuss about how impactful branding is on a business. For instance, the total monetary value of the Coca-Cola company’s asset is so small comparable to the estimated worth of the Coca-Cola brand itself which is $81.6 billion as at 2014.
How can this be?
Branding is the difference between a business and a company. The irony is that a lot of so called entrepreneurs don’t know such a difference exists. For many, a business and a company may as well be the same thing. But are they really the same? This article is about pointing out the winning difference.
Which Do You Own: A Business or A Company?
A business is any economic activity that involves the exchange of goods and services for a fee.
A company is a business that engages in a set of specific economic activities that involves the exchange of goods and services for a fee.
What’s the difference? Branding.
Branding is what takes your business from an economic activity it originally is and turns it into a living entity known as a company or organisation. Branding is what gives your business its own unique personality that makes it to stand out tall [SIGNIFICANT] among its industry peers.
The simple differentiation is that a business is any activity that can potentially make you money. So what do we have these days? We have a lot of entrepreneurs in business [making money] but very few who actually own a company [making a name].
I know you are taken aback by that last statement and probably saying to yourself now; but my business is registered and that makes it a company. So what the heck are you talking about here, Tito?
Patience. We’ll soon find out.
Let’s get one thing clear; registering your business with appropriate bodies responsible for the incorporation of businesses in your country only makes your business a legal entity.
Meaning, your business is recognized by the law and the state which confers on her the right to sue and to be sued. It doesn’t mean your business is actually a company in the eyes of your target market. Your incorporation gives your business legal recognition because your business now carries a company title. But your incorporation doesn’t give your business market recognition, which is the essence of branding.
A company is a company not because it is registered, but because customers have come to associate the business with a set of qualities that distinctively sets it apart from all others in the same playing field.
Branding is what confers on your business market recognition. Branding is what translates your business from an economic activity to a living entity. It is what takes your business from a legal entity [incorporation] to a living entity [recognition].
Branding gives your business meaning. It is the string that unifies all the diverse activities of your business and gives meaning to each of them to create an overall effect in the lives of your target market. It gives your business a voice; it brings life to your business. In short, it is the soul of your business.
Is Your Business Branded?
I can almost hear your loud reply, YES! Believe me, I truly sympathize with you. I wish your yes was a realistic one. But I won’t totally put the blame on you as we have a lot of so called brand experts who tell you your business is branded just because they designed a corporate logo and have splattered a few colors here and there on your website, company profile or product/service brochures.
So you see why I wouldn’t really blame you for answering ‘yes’. Because I know you have a fantastic logo, an attractive business name, a beautiful by-line or slogan and a persuasive corporate color to wrap it all up. All of these can truly make you feel branded, but I’ve got bad news; branding is NOT about imagery, branding is all about TRUST. The market you are trying to reach doesn’t care about your colorful logo or stunning adverts, they only have one thing on their minds; can you deliver?
Welcome to the Information Age
The information age is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is this; people now want to do business with companies they trust than any other time in human history. Customers are now becoming fans or as Seth Godin rightly put it, tribes. They are now gathering around companies that stand for and do what they [the customers] also believe in.
Meaning, your colorful ads and brilliant lies ain’t going to fool anyone. The market is well informed, so you’ve got to do much more than that. This is the curse for those businesses who still think customers are as naive as they were back in the industrial age, NO!
In the information age, customers want results and not promises. The palatable promises of the industrial age will not bail you out in this information age. The market no longer lends you their trust based on what you SAY.
They lend you their trust as a result of what you DID, have DONE and still continue to DO. Results are the new standards for market recognition. Results are the new yardstick for earning trust in the marketplace. Simply put, the customers of the information age are saying to entrepreneurs; “Stop telling me what you will do or who you are, show me what you’ve done.” Why? Because that says a lot about who you are and what you will do. As entrepreneurs, we are not our words, corporate colors or image; we are the summation of our actions and their corresponding outcomes. And this is what clearly separates a business from a company.
Companies [branded businesses] do specific things for specific people for specific reasons. This makes their results easily noticeable in the marketplace. Businesses engage in any form of activities for anybody so long as it brings in money. This makes their results less obvious in the marketplace, because their actions are not specific, integrated and consistent.
What Makes A Business Branded?
A set of consistent actions that is capable of yielding consistent results that helps in communicating a set of consistent messages to a consistent target market. In other words, a business is branded when it has these 4 key elements:
- Consistent Actions
- Consistent Results
- Consistent Messages
- Consistent Target Market
The key word underlying these four important elements of branding is consistency. At the core of branding is consistency. All the logo design, corporate color, slogan, brochure designs and other creative activities are all tools for re-enforcing the consistency of the brand.
Consistency is the foundation on which trust is built and market recognition is nurtured. Consistency is about coherence, integration and harmony.
Meaning, everything you do in your business as a company starting from your actions, results and messages must be in alignment with the target market you are in business to satisfy.
Tito Philips is a people, business and life developer. He coaches and consults on how people and businesses can become significant by being different and making a difference. He is the Chief Community Leader at Naijapreneur, a tribe of unusual entrepreneurs who are raising the bar of entrepreneurship.