Why branding is important for businesses big and small

Why branding is important for businesses big and small

In life – for people and businesses – first impressions are crucial. Studies repeatedly show people form positive or negative perceptions in mere milliseconds. So how your brand looks translates into how it’s perceived. Done well, your branding can give you a leg up; but done poorly and you’re doomed before you even start.

We inherently trust and value what we find appealing. Research has shown that attractive people earn more, make better, longer lasting impressions, and are perceived as healthier, more trustworthy, and smarter - even if they’re not. It’s simply hardwired into us to be captivated by attractive things. A brand is no different.

It’s why billions are spent on celebrity product endorsements every year. Studies have demonstrated that overall celebrity endorsements produce positive effects - either through improving stock prices or through increasing sales, or both. Of course, the caveat is the endorser must be likable - which is why when scandal hits, celebrities are jettisoned quickly.

Product placement also has a similar effect. New studies indicate that product placements on TV shows followed by commercials for those same products or similar brands, primes the viewers, leading to improved perception and less audience drop-off during the commercial. And higher commercial viewership translates into better sales long-term.

Why do we like pretty things?

Researchers of varied professions have studied animals and humans in various settings. And attractiveness is universally appealing. How a creature looks can help it achieve prowess and social standing. Further, those of lower status tend to emulate a “leader’s” behavior, attempting to improve their own stature. Conversely, admired traits are passed on by successful mates, reinforcing the desirable features.

The same holds true for brands. Leaders are emulated and self perpetuate by increasing their market share, cultivating allure through celebrity endorsements, or through line extension. Brand trust can affect your acceptance and trust in new products from the same parent brand you admire.

Social acceptance and improvement exists within all of us

Humans are not immune from coveting what’s attractive. We worship celebrities and imitate them because of their social status, success, and attractiveness. It’s not a new phenomena either; famously beautiful, or talented, or athletic folks throughout time have cultivated and motivated followers - simply by being the pinnacle of attractiveness or virility.

Don’t fight against millennia of genetics and anthropology.

The same holds true for companies and products. Your website, your packaging, and/or your collateral creates a positive or negative perception instantly. If that first impression is good it can lead to more sales, higher margins, or a transfer of trust to your brand and its descendants. It’s why the best product doesn’t always win - sometimes the prettiest does. People are drawn to it and impart positive associations to it simply because it or the brand is more appealing. Or because celebrities are using it or endorse it.

There is an abundance of choice today. Overall we live in a time of ubiquity and surplus. So to stand out, a brand needs to distinguish itself. Good design and consistent branding helps to achieve this. Beautiful packaging, good design, a professional web design, and consistent branding will attract people to your brand and can create positive feelings. Good branding can elevate your company or product even when you’re up against larger competitors.

Invest in your brand and the rewards can be plentiful

A positive brand first impression can lead to acceptance and sales. For small businesses, a first impression can be even more crucial - since it may be your only impression. Make it a good one. A positive perception can command higher pricing and overcome being unknown to the buyer. Good design will raise your attractiveness and foster positive associations simply by the visual appeal of your brand, packaging, website, photography, or collateral.

Big companies know this and invest smartly in creating good, consistent brand experiences. You only need to look around at market leaders to see how important branding and first impressions are to bottom lines. Good design – good visual branding – helps to improve sales.

What’s worse, bad first impressions can linger even over long spans. Negative connotations from initial encounters can lurk within our psyche even when brands or products are redesigned or improve. The fact is, even if you’re somehow lucky enough to get a second chance, it can be almost impossible to overcome an initial bad impression.

So if you’re creating a company or designing a product or its packaging, make sure you do it well. Take the extra time, put in the extra effort, invest in professional services to make sure your first impression helps you rather than harms you. Big or small, make your first impression a good one.

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Jul 31, 2015

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