The Importance of branding and the development of your brand cannot be overstated in a world of mass communication and the overwhelm of messaging from the consumer’s point of view. Even for small businesses and startups, the importance of branding can be the competitive edge for your local marketing efforts.

Brand helps us to focus, to know whom to trust, as well as making our purchase decisions easier.

“Products have life cycles. Brands outlive products. Brands convey a uniform quality, credibility and experience. Brands are valuable. Many companies put the value of their brand on their balance sheet.” – Forbes, Why Brand Building is Important

The Importance of Branding for Audiences

Branding is a vital and essential element for marketing to create value and connectivity with audiences. People do not purchase services and products purely on functionality, lowest price or that it is the most reasonable choice above all others. If this were true, top end brands like Rolex. Louis Vuitton and Lambroghini would lose out to more functional and affordable brands like Timex, Target and Toyota. Some of the world’s most successful and sought after brands are the most expensive.

While price may be a definitive branding point for your business, do not believe for one moment that those on a tight budget will not spend some extra hard-earned cash to connect with brands that give them a sense of a better life. Startbucks still sells $5 coffees to those on minimum wage. It is important to build a brand that allows people access to something better, something important that allows them to belong.

For startups and small businesses, branding can often take the back burner to other considerations, such as funding, organization and product development. This is a grave misstep, as a company’s brand can be key to its success. Dollar for dollar, branding is as important and vital as any other early steps.

When developing your brand, look to create a strong brand that stands out in the marketplace and positions your company as an irreplaceable necessity to your customer’s lives. Realize that consumers love and trust brands. They believe in the inherent superiority of the experience so much, that even in a negative economy 60% are often or always willing to pay more for for their favorite brands. Creating an identity that resonates with your clients reinforces the emotional relationship that is at the heart of a truly amazing brand. When marketing decisions are made for a particular brand, it’s important to examine the factors associated and consistently craft your messaging that supports and enhances this emotional relationship.

The Importance of Branding & Customer Generated Content

Customer generated content is the easiest marketing method to build trust for your brand. When your customers are creating content for your brand, such as positive online reviews, case studies, testimonials, contests, social shares, and other forms of participation, you not only build trust with new customers, but you empower your best customers with the ability to be a crucial part of your branding.

Intelligent brands know how to leverage their clients and turn them into advocates. We all know that word of mouth is the most powerful form of advertising and marketing. Branding must take into account how to accentuate this fact into an actual premeditated marketing plan.

Contests and Consumer Generated Content Helping Brands

Contests which invite your customers to create videos or snap photos are feeding into something much greater than the desire to win a prize. Social media users have their own self-serving reasons for participating in these contests. Winning the grand prize not only earns them money or freebies, it also gives them a brief shot of fame. That fame also increases the number of followers they have on the site where the contest was posted.

Because each social media site differs so dramatically, there is no one-size-fits-all content that works. This means instead of blasting the same status update across multiple sites, businesses must pick one or two outlets and tailor a campaign toward those.

Many small businesses will begin 2015 with new plans to attract new customers and increase their online presence. Contests that encourage customers to create videos and share photos will be a big part of that for many businesses, who realize their competitors have set their sights on the new visually-oriented world of social media to reach young customers.

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