When it’s allergy season you ask for a “Kleenex” instead of tissue paper; you might enjoy a “Popsicle” on a hot summer day instead of an ice pop; and you “Google” something when you need to search the internet for information.

This is expert branding in action. Some companies have so successfully pushed their brands that the brand name itself has overtaken the generic term, as in the above cases.

Good branding is indispensable to the success of your business, and there are numerous benefits that come with it. Having an easily recognizable brand drives new business through word-of-mouth referrals while making it easier to roll out new products. It also helps build coherence within your company and attract the best talent to your open roles.

Keep reading to learn more about branding and the five biggest benefits for small and large businesses alike.

What Is the Purpose of Branding in Marketing?

It’s easy to conflate branding with other forms of marketing, but they aren’t exactly the same thing. Marketing is what you do to drive your products and services to potential customers, whereas branding is basically the way your company presents itself to the world.

Branding includes the obvious components of name, logo, colors and fonts, but it also includes your mission, values and motivations, creating an all-encompassing brand identity that, if done right, customers will readily associate with your company. This is key: You want your customers to feel something when they think of your company.

The main purpose of your brand strategy should be to differentiate you from your competitors and create brand equity, or commercial value derived strictly from the perception of the brand. Doing so builds trust and loyalty among your target market and puts you at the forefront of your potential customers’ minds when it’s time to buy.

Developing an easily identifiable tone and logo, aligning your values with those of your customers and evoking a strong emotional response at the sight and thought of your brand are all signs of a great branding strategy.

5 Benefits of Branding for Companies

1. Brand awareness: One of the strongest and most impactful benefits of high-quality branding is brand awareness. Customers who already trust your company and recognize your distinct color, logo or font style are far more likely to buy your product or service. In this way, brand awareness does much of the heavy lifting for you when it comes to selling your products or services.

2. Drives new business: Word-of-mouth referrals are still the tried-and-true way of driving new business. This is especially true for small businesses, 85% of whom report that word-of-mouth referrals were the best way to drive local business. When customers can quickly and easily recall a brand they use and trust, they’re much likelier to refer your company to their friends and family members.

3. Shared values build company coherence: Strong brand equity doesn’t just help strengthen your relationships with your customers and clients — it also helps build a clearer sense of mission and direction within your company that boosts coherence and ensures your employees are all working toward the same set of goals.

4. Easier to rollout new products: If you have a strong brand in place, much of the work of marketing and selling your products and services is already done. Once you’ve built up a level of trust among your customers, it’s far easier to convince them that your latest product is worth buying. Think about it: Apple doesn’t need to do a whole lot of convincing to generate interest in and sell the latest iPhone, right? That’s good branding at work.

5. Better job applicants: Customers want to buy from brands they know and trust, but the same is true for job seekers. Good branding can actually help you attract a larger and more talented pool of applicants to your open positions, ensuring that you’re hiring the best of the best.

The Main Types of Branding, With Examples

Visual Branding

The visual components of your brand are some of the most important — and ultimately attention-grabbing — features of your brand. A good visual brand strategy conveys your company’s personality and style to your audience through visual cues (i.e., are you easygoing and laid back or serious and resourceful?). This helps them learn about you without having to dig too deeply.

Think Apple: Apple’s visual branding style is silvery, sleek, sharp and new, and this is evident in their stores, logos and, of course, their devices. You don’t need to know much about Apple to understand that it develops and sells some sort of cutting edge technology, based on its branding alone. And that’s exactly what good visual branding should do.

Social Media Branding

A huge proportion of social engagement and consumer activity today happens on social media, so it’s important that your company has a clean, consistent online presence across all social networks. Social media is one of the few places where attention is measured in mere seconds, so it’s important that users can identify your company in this short space of time.

Amazon’s Twitter presence should serve as a model for other companies. It operates dozens of different accounts for many of its products and services. While each account has its own distinct edge to it, there is a clear sense of continuity involving similar colors, tones, fonts and messaging threaded between each of them, all of which marks them as Amazon’s. The bottom line is users shouldn’t have to work hard to recognize that your social media account belongs to your company.

Corporate Branding

Corporate branding covers all elements of your company’s branding strategy, from marketing its products/services to ensuring that all digital touchpoints are in sync. At the end of the day, a customer should feel like they’re getting the same message from the same company no matter which part of your business they’re interacting with.

Nike stands at the top of the corporate branding world. Its mission to enhance physical performance through top-tier athletic attire permeates every section of its branding and marketing, from its motto “Just Do It” to its marketing materials, featuring athletes in the zone.

Don’t overlook the importance of branding. The right branding strategy can make or break a company, and it’s important to ensure you have a clearly defined brand that permeates across all of your products, services and touchpoints to ensure you’re front of mind when your customers are ready to buy. Doing this drives your company forward.

Dan Haverty is a content writer at Brafton. Currently based in Boston, he also spent time living in Ireland and Washington, DC. When he isn’t writing, Dan enjoys reading, cooking and hiking, and he recently became an avid yoga practitioner.