Most businesses fail, right?

I’m sure you’ve all seen the stats. Some 80% of new companies will fold within their first 5 years of trading. And of the ones that don’t, 80% of the leftovers will go bust too.

People say that business has never been tougher, but is that really true?

Because, thanks to the internet and technology, you could argue that customers have never been so accessible.

We take our gadgets everywhere we go and, as such, we’re bombarded with marketing messages at home, at work, in bed and even in the toilet.

Whereas 50 years ago, companies had to shout about their products and services from the rooftops, now they can be more subtle.

They can follow us around. Learn about what we like and dislike, then tailor their messages accordingly.

In some senses, business has never been easier.

Which prompts the question:

Why do some firms flourish, whilst others flounder?

I think it’s all to do with branding.

Branding has always been important, but now more so than ever. You see, because we’re constantly getting hit with different kinds of adverts, we’re getting more picky about the content we consume.

Goodness knows how many websites there are online these days, but one thing’s for sure: no matter what industry you’re in, a competitor is only a click and a swipe away.

That’s why the way a business is branded is critical.

So, how do you know the best brand image for your business?

Well, the answer may well depend on how much you know about your target audience. Entrepreneurs often make the mistake of using brand guidelines for their start-up based on nothing more than gut instinct.

From their website to their tone of voice, their image is how they want to be, not necessarily what their marketing requires.

But really, small businesses and start-ups would be better off if they spent some time doing market research. After all, if this approach is good enough for huge, successful corporations, it’s okay for the little guys too.

Take telephony giant Three for instance. They have a very clear idea of how they want to speak.

Their tone of voice is informal and pretty chatty, which is in stark contrast to the more officious style of Vodafone. Both brands have their merits, but as a relative new kid on the block, Three identified a need to be different.

I’ve worked on numerous projects for insurance companies and accountants, too. Their tone is very professional, but that’s because it has to be. When you’re talking about liabilities and tax advice, you can’t be too relaxed.

The point is, regardless of how big a business is or what it sells, nothing should be left to chance. Work hard on your branding and the positioning of your company in your industry and it could well prove to be the difference between success and failure.