Business branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small, retail or Business to Business. An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets. But what exactly does "branding" mean? How does it affect a small business like yours?

Does a picture pop into your mind about a company, such as its logo or colours?  Think about the logo, such as Coca Cola — recognizable the world over, executed in its distinctive curvy script in white against red. And when you see it, do you imagine the effervescence of a Coke, the dark colour or how it tastes?  All of those things may run fleetingly through your mind when you want something to drink.

Or perhaps it is the company’s approach to customizing its product. Mention the name Tim Horton's and immediately coffee comes to mind. Now, I Love  Tim Horton's coffee . I know I can expect a certain level of quality. The coffee will be fresh — not a stale witches brew, and is consistent between the stores. 

So when you ask the question “what is branding” — it is something that triggers associations in our minds.  Branding is about creating an identity. It’s what sets one company apart from another. In short, it tells us what we can expect from that company.  It’s about the perception people have of the company.

Branding (a verb) is doing those activities and communications, large and small, that create and reinforce a brand, i.e., what a company is known for.

Branding is what creates customer loyalty.  They say it is what keeps consumers loyal and buying repeatedly. Branding is what helps a prospective buyer call to mind a particular company when it comes time to buy.  In other words, branding also helps with awareness.

In a world of infinite choices, branding that helps people remember YOUR company is more important than ever. Today consumers have a seemingly endless choice of retailers, products and services available at their fingertips online, or at the local strip shopping centres or shopping malls.

If consumers are shopping for something, what do they do?  Go to Google, where billions of Web pages and yellow page listings are available.Not only are there many choices, but some of the decision factors that traditionally separated and defined companies are today transparent and without much difference. Take, for example, pricing.  Pricing is easier to discover and compare than ever before.  In certain industries there may be very little price difference.

When all prices are the same, what makes the buyer choose one over another?  Nuances and qualitative factors may make the difference.

For small businesses, what sets apart the business may be factors such as high quality, craftsmanship, personalized customer service, superior knowledge to help customers make the proper product selections, and similar qualitative factors.

The challenge for some small businesses is how to get customers to think of them when it’s time to buy.  You don’t want your company to be non existent in the customer’s mind.

And if they see your brand name in a list of competing vendors (such as in a search engine), you want your brand to be associated with positive factors that make it stand out. Having a website, exposure on social media presents your brand, and gets your name out their. 

Branding is not a replacement for sales or specific marketing campaigns, But branding assists and reinforces your sales and marketing efforts in important ways. 

What methods of branding works, your company logo should be printed on your business cards, letter head, sales sheets, your vehicles, embroidered on your shirts, hats and bags.

Service Contractors

In the service community there are no standards on what is expectable, or the norm however this is where some companies have step up to the plate with their brand. Their employees where a uniform with their brand logo embroidered on the left chest, and show up in a branded truck. This will often put the customer at ease because they recognize the brand. On the other hand if you should up in a truck with no brand on it and show up in a t-shirt they may be hesitant. Branding that works could be screen printed t-shirts for roofers, plumbers or electricians, and or polo shirts with your brand embroidered on the left chest. 

Retail Services

In most restaurants specially fast food its usually a given that the company will provide screen printed shirts for their employees, in addition they may have promotions where they brand t-shirts and give them away, the average life of a t-shirt for a consumer is approximately 5 years. 

Go home and look around your house, you will find on average of 3-10 items that are branded that you where or carry your tools in. Including branded sports jerseys, t-shirts of your favourite brand, companies that gave away promo shirts, mugs with someone's names on them, pens that have company logos on them , fridge magnets and the list goes on. 

It can be a challenge to create your brand however, you likely already have a brand and you just need to market it. Now Marketing is not branding however they work hand in hand, a few of companies that top of the food chain in marketing include McDonald, Coke Cola, Tim Horton's they all spend millions of dollars on Marketing but have world wide recognition of their brand. Now you do not need to spend millions..

The Basics

In the market today its critical that you have a website, a logo and business, cards. Now you can go further and get on twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to name a few and this will get your brand out their but you not likely to make sales from these types of marketing, direct marketing, business to business sales, email campaigns , Google listing are critical, its very important when someone is doing a search they see your name listed in the top 5 the top 2 is even better. Google is one of the most searched sites for when people are looking up info.