One of the most commonly used terms in marketing is “brand”. It’s often a synonym for company, marketing plan, advertising idea, content tone, color scheme, story, logo, unique value proposition…you name it. The term “your brand” gets thrown around so much it’s lost its meaning.
The ambiguity comes from several sources.
The first and most influential is the overall impact of internet content. It used to be that small, local businesses, whose marketing consisted of a Yellow Pages ad and local word-of-mouth, consider their logo their “branding”. The concept of brand as it pertained to managing content didn’t exist.
But today, with so many ways for content to be published and shared, even SMBs have a brand.
Your brand is why you do what you do. It’s what your customer say about you.
It’s your story.
Publishing and the Brand Story
Your website, social media accounts, advertisements, landing pages, and customer reviews are all part of your brand story. For the local small business, this is not a story in the typical, literary sense. We don’t recommend that the first words on your small business website be “Once upon a time, a man who needed a job decided to become a plumber…”
Instead, this story is the impression your content creates on potential customers.
Today, as the online consumer researches and compares, each business does more (whether they plan to or not) than just communicate a value proposition or offer a deal. They:
- Display their best work
- Exemplify experience
- Demonstrate superiority
- Lower the sense of risk
- Tell a story (of success)
- Share what customer’s say about them
- Get laughs
- Evoke trust
All of this material, taken together with your traditional ads, logos, calls to action, and sales pitches, form your “brand”.
In the end, it’s the last one – evoking trust – that is the crux. If your branding creates an impression where leads feel they can trust you – before they ever meet or speak to you in person – then your content is doing its job.
If they feel uncertain about any piece of content (like too many bad reviews), or develop a sense of fear (you don’t seem that experienced) it will effect your conversion results.
Consider the amount of information you share and the impression you create with a half-page in the Yellow pages, compared to what you can now do online. All that additional content and its underlying story is your brand.
Today, you have to do a lot more to earn people’s trust before you meet or speak to them. It’s a new challenge every business faces.
On the other hand, if you do a good job with your content, the leads you get will be hotter, better qualified, and already trust you more. You’ve got a great jump on the getting the sale.
A good brand has always evoked emotions in a memorable way. This is still the same with online branding.
Take a look at your business website and marketing materials. Do you have a story? Do you seem trustworthy? Do make it clear why it’s worth a lead’s time to contact you?
If not, it’s time to work on your branding.