What is Branding?
Coca-Cola, Nike, Expedia, McDonald's. What comes to mind when you hear those names? What kind of feeling does it give you? Can you picture what their logo looks like? Undoubtedly, you recognize their brand.
To really understand branding, it is important to know what a brand is. Your brand can be thought of as your promise to your customer.
It is the idea or image that consumers connect with by identifying your slogan, name, logo or design. In short, your brand is the way your costumers perceive you.
Branding is the process of communicating with your customers what your brand is and is not. By conveying characteristics and values your brand clarifies not just what, but who you are.
In marketing, branding encompasses the expression of the fundamental truth or value of your organization, product or particular service. It can be viewed as the character and personality of your company and includes everything from your name and logo to the tone you use on social media.
The process of branding includes creating a unique image, or idea in the consumer's mind and requires consistency, patience, and perseverance. When you think about your brand it is important to think about the entire customer experience.
The goal of branding is to have your brand become recognizable by more and more people, and eventually identified directly with your service or product, even when there are many other competitors offering the same service or product.
Think of a company like Nike: their Swoosh has become part of their brand. That logo has separated their product from all other sports and apparel companies, and it is a recognizable symbol all over the world loved by millions of loyal customers.
What Is The Difference Between Marketing And Branding?
Marketing can be viewed as actively promoting your service or product; it is the ‘buy me’ statement. Branding can be viewed as an expression of the value of your organization and is the ‘this is what, or who I am’ statement.
Branding should help encourage your customers to buy your product or service and should support your marketing but it is more about creating and sustaining loyalty than an immediate impact on your bottom line. Marketing is about sales. Branding is about creating connections with your customers.
A good brand will work to clearly deliver your companies’ message, emotionally connecting your customers or target audience with your product or service.
Ultimately, branding should help to motivate a buyer to buy, but more importantly, create user brand loyalty.
Why Is Branding Important?
A strong brand is invaluable as it is ultimately the source of a promise and connection to your customer. Beyond having an unforgettable logo, branding should increase the value of your company, provide your employees with motivation and direction, and ease the process of attaining new customers.
Branding is how your customer perceives you when they hear or think of your company, service or product. Everything from what they think they know about your brand all the way to emotional elements. Your brand should help you stand out from competitors, both locally and across the web.
Effective branding will promote your business. If your brand is consistent and easy to identify people will feel more comfortable purchasing your products or services.
People are more comfortable with what is familiar, and this familiarity and comfort will encourage repeat business. These repeat customers are then much more likely to refer your products or services. Branding should lead to the acquisition, loyalty, and referral of new customers.
Like an unspoken contract, your brand should express your promise to your customers. Having a strong and consistent brand will allow customers to know exactly what they are getting each time they have an interaction with your company.
By building credibility and trust people are more and more likely to make a purchase and become loyal customers.
What Do I Need To Do To Have A Successful Brand?
In order to have a successful brand, your organizations’ focus needs to be on the customer. You need to understand the needs and wants of your customer and target audience and integrate your brand strategy throughout your company at every point of contact.
You need to define what problem you can solve for people.
Your brand needs to be infused throughout your entire company. Good branding is built on a strong promise, set of values and specific idea. When your brand is clear, your entire company will believe in it, commit to it and deliver on it.
When your whole company is delivering on the promise of your brand your customer base will grow and more importantly their loyalty will grow.
If branding is the expression of who you are as a company the focus of your brand should be to convey who you are, why you exist and to connect with customers on a personal level.
If a customer can connect and more importantly relate to your brand, likes who you are and believes in why you exist they will be likely to purchase your products or services and tell others about you.
As these connections form and consumers begin to identify with your brand personally it will be personified and live in their hearts and minds.
When you consider your brand you want to consider your entire customer experience. Think about everything from your logo, your social media experiences, your website, the way to the way you answer the phone all the way you how you deliver on your promise as a company.
Every customer touch point is essential when building a successful brand.
How Do I Evaluate My Brand?
Branding is an ongoing process with many steps and can sometimes seem overwhelming, so how do you know if your brand is effective? Ask yourself a few questions to help determine the direction and effectiveness of your brand:
- Does your brand relate directly to your target audience?
- Will your audience understand your brand and its promise without having to think about it too hard?
- Is your brand unique, while also expressing your products or service as unique?
- Does your brand express why it is important and necessary?
- Does your brand express the promise that you are making clearly?
- Is this promise reflected both those you are targeting as customers as well as those who are already customers?
- Does your brand effectively reflect the values and characteristics you want to represent?
By using these questions as a guide throughout the development of your brand you will be able to define more clearly your goals and promises, both internally and externally.
A brand should be an instant "ah-ha" it should require very little thought and contemplation.”
Your brand is the mental picture of who you, as a company, represent to your customers.
Branding is influenced by the values, goals and corresponding actions that you as an entire organization surround it with.
Your brand represents the sum of people’s perception of your entire company from your promise, reputation, advertising, campaigns, and social media interactions all the way to your customer service.
Just remember, branding never stops, it needs to evolve along with the behavior of your customers. It is important to continually spend time investing in researching, defining and building your brand.