What is Branding?
A common response to this seemingly simple question is that branding is the logo used to identify a company. Often seen as a necessary evil to adorn the top of a letterhead or to flank a business card and equally overlooked is the true meaning of what a brand is.
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
History of branding
Branding was originally a mark of ownership. Derived from the Old Norse 'brandr', meaning 'to burn', branding started quite literally. Cattle branding was one of the earliest examples of simplification, signifying ownership and, through association over time, connoting taste and quality.
Nowadays your brand or branding is often defined as a name, design or symbol that identifies one company’s goods or services from another.
However, a brand is way more than that, a brand lives and breathes in the minds and hearts of your customers.
“Products are made in a factory but brands are created in the mind”
“Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room”
“When enough individuals arrive at the same gut feeling, a company can be said to have a brand.”
These three quotes form the core of what a brand is. It is the psychological and physical associations created in the mind of your customer. A brand is like a reputation for a person, it is built over time, backed up with referrals, strengthened through shared values, and can be undone by not delivering on its promises.
Why is Branding Important?
The world is a rapidly changing place, with millions of brands visually punctuating our lives, it can be hard to stand out and be noticed. Without considered branding being heard above the noise is a near-impossible task. Even with an amazing product that seemingly launches a ‘brand’ overnight, how do the masses connect with your company? How do customers on the fence take that step and trust in your company, your product, or your service? The answer is, they build a brand. Branding ensures that ‘right time right place’ brands don’t just become flash in the pan moments and allows companies to build a deep and meaningful connection with their audience. Allowing you to differentiate your products and services from competitors and become the go-to brand.
Put simply branding helps you build the following:
Over time, your brand will help your company, product, or service be known to consumers. As you consistently use brand assets such as your logo, advertising, and collateral, your audience will come to associate these with your brand. So, brand recognition refers to the amount your audience is able to identify your logo, brand colours, and other assets with your business.
As implement your brand strategy (rolling out your brand assets) you’ll help to generate what’s known as brand awareness.
Building on brand recognition; rather than just identifying a logo with a specific company, your audience will see your logo and instantly be able to correctly associate your product or service with your brand. They will have a gut feeling regarding your company, product or service and will make decisions based off that feeling.
Why is this important? Brands that stand out from competitors, generate leads, and ultimately build an audience therefore increasing sales.
Brand loyalty is what keeps your customers coming back. You’ve come to rely on brands to deliver the experience that you want, and you’ve formed a strong connection with them to keep coming back, without exploring other brands that may provide the same – or an even better – experience.
Your daily interaction with brands is influenced by this loyalty. Do you start your day with a Starbucks or venture out to try something new? Consistent experiences are where we feel comfortable, who wants to try the new coffee blend and have their day possibly ruined when we have no clue as to what that new brand may offer us. Instead, we gravitate towards brands that give us an experience we have come to expect.
When searching on the internet, why don’t we just use any search engine? Why do we often rely on Google to return the results? even if that means typing Google into Bing just to then search for what we want and spend double the time to get the information we need. Again, it comes down to loyalty and consistency. We have trust in Google, which has been built through brand recognition and a good product. We know what to expect when we use Google, leaving that responsibility to a competitor is too big a risk, therefore we revert to using what we are comfortable with.
So what makes a brand?
These are the tangible assets that a brand calls upon to communicate with the world in which they live. These assets can include the logo, brand colours, website, signage, advertising, stationery etc…
Brand values are a set of guiding principles that you care about, the people you care about, and the problems you care about.
This is a commitment, whether written or unspoken, that you make to customers. It identifies what they should expect from all interactions with your company, product, or service.
Your brand is important to your business as it can;
· Increase recognition
· Create trust
· Generate new referrals and leads ultimately increasing sales
· Add value both financially and emotionally
· Build company culture
· Differentiate you from the competition
· Build an audience of loyal customers
Hopefully, this has shed some light on what a brand is. Before reading this you might not have realised just how important branding is to your company. If you’ve any questions or would like to talk about bringing your brand to life, then let’s talk.
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