Why do certain products become more than just a product? Products that connect, resonate and spread like wildfire.
Redbull is more than an energy drink. Starbucks is more than a coffee. Nike is more than a pair of sneakers and Rolex is more than a wristwatch.
It’s because these brands tap into their ability to see not as themselves but as others to see the important details others don’t see, not just on the computer screen or in books but in and through the eyes, hearts and minds of people.
The best brands in the world have the special skills to look at the universe of people and translate that into the universe of visual and written communications to transform those observations we each sense into something we can each tangibly see and understand.
The result? These brands are known, loved, and chosen out of a long lineup of options.
And I know you want that for yourself. Who doesn’t? That’s why I wrote this guide to help you to create a strong brand that’ll help your business be loved, remembered, and preferred.
But, in order to understand the concept of branding, first, we need to know what products and brands are.
Let’s get into it.
What is a Product?
A product is an item offered for sale. It can be a service or an item. It can be physical or in virtual or cyber form. Every product is made at a cost and each is sold at a price.
The price that can be charged depends on the market, the quality, the marketing and the segment that is targeted. Each product has a useful life after which it needs replacement and a life cycle after which it has to be re-invented.
What is a Brand?
A brand is a feature or set of features that distinguish one organization from another. A brand is typically comprised of a name, tagline, logo or symbol, design, brand voice, and more.
It also refers to the overall experience a customer undergoes when interacting with a business — as a shopper, customer, social media follower, or mere passerby.
What is Branding?
Branding refers to the deliberate actions you take to influence people’s perception of your product or service, so they choose your brand time and again. Essentially, it is the way your product or service lives in the hearts and minds of your customer.
Branding is what your business needs to break through the clutter and grab your ideal customer’s attention. It’s what transforms first-time buyers into lifetime customers and turns an indifferent audience into brand evangelists.
It’s the impression that pops into their minds when they hear your business’ name. It’s based on a feeling they have that is based on their experiences they’ve had with you, good or bad.
Why is Branding Important?
Branding is absolutely critical to a business because of the overall impact it makes on your company. Branding can change how people perceive your brand, it can drive new business, and increase brand value – but it can also do the opposite if done wrongly or not at all.
Branding gives your business identity beyond its product or service. It gives consumers something to relate to and connect with.
Branding makes your business memorable. It’s the face of your company and helps consumers distinguish your business across every medium.
By carefully constructing your brand through stories, relationships, marketing messages and visual assets, you have the opportunity of shaping your customers’ expectations and creating a unique bond that goes beyond the buying-selling relationship.
Look at some of the biggest and most well-established brands out there like Google, Apple, Nike and Coke— it is no coincidence that they are successful.
These companies understand the importance of branding and leverage it from every aspect of their business and marketing. They strategize, learn and grow through their branding efforts to maintain customer loyalty.
Branding brings your employees pride. When you brand your company, you’re not only giving your business identity, you’re also creating a reputable, highly-regarded workplace. Strong branding brings in strong employees.
Branding Terms to Know
Here are some other brand-related buzzwords you should know. They further demonstrate the importance and value of branding your business.
Brand awareness is a marketing term that describes the degree of consumer recognition of a product by its name. Creating brand awareness is a key step in promoting a new product or reviving an older brand.
Ideally, awareness of the brand may include the qualities that distinguish the product from its competition.
A brand extension is when a company uses one of its established brand names on a new product or new product category. It’s sometimes known as brand stretching.
The strategy behind a brand extension is to use the company’s already established brand equity to help it launch its newest product.
Brand identity is the visible elements of a brand, such as colour, design, and logo, that identify and distinguish the brand in consumers’ minds. Brand identity is distinct from brand image.
The former corresponds to the intent behind the branding and the way a company does the following – all to cultivate a certain image in consumers’ minds:
- Chooses its name
- Designs its logo
- Uses colors, shapes, and other visual elements in its products and promotions
- Crafts the language in its advertisements
- Trains employees to interact with customers
The term brand recognition refers to the ability of consumers to identify a specific brand by its attributes over another one. Brand recognition is a concept used in advertising and marketing.
It is considered successful when people are able to recognize a brand through visual or auditory cues such as logos, slogans, packaging, colours, or jingles rather than being explicitly exposed to a company’s name.
Companies often conduct market research to determine the success of their brand recognition strategies.
Brand management is a function of marketing that uses techniques to increase the perceived value of a product line or brand over time.
Effective brand management enables the price of products to go up and builds loyal customers through positive brand associations and images or a strong awareness of the brand.
Brand valuation as a concept is the net value of all a business’ tangible as well as intangible assets. It is a method to estimate the overall value of the brand. It evaluates the brand value based on financial performance, brand equity, customer perception etc.
Elements of Branding
These are the elements of branding that you’ll need to create in order to cultivate how your business is perceived by customers.
What’s in a name? In relation to branding – a lot. However, coming up with a brand name is no easy task. Your brand name must embody who you are, but also represent what you do, while simultaneously making a good impression. No pressure.
Mission Statement and Brand Values
Your mission statement and brand values are the foundation for your branding. Think of your mission as the brains of the operation – a short and succinct statement that defines the present state and purpose of your organization.
Meanwhile, your company’s vision is its heart, providing an inspirational and motivational snapshot of what you seek to achieve in the long term.
With the mission and vision statement set as the pillars of your organization, your brand strategy comes to encompass everything in between. This will take the form of brand guidelines.
These guidelines are comprised into a tangible document that will reflect and support your business goals, differentiate you from competitors, resonate with customers, provide a template for decision-making and precipitate ideas for future marketing campaigns.
It will also include all the stylistic elements of your branding, including your colour palette, fonts, and an outline of your brand voice.
Your logo is the face of your company and designing your logo is arguably the single most important branding you’ll do for your business.
During the design process, think about who you are as a brand and how you want to be perceived by your customers. Use that to drive your design strategy.
Designing your website is also a key branding step. Your website is your brand’s digital real estate and when your customers visit, it should be visually engaging, easy to use, and a reflection of who you are as a brand.
Similar to your logo, refer to your brand guide to choose your web design elements (like layout and fonts).
Typography refers to the specific letterforms including their design and layout that are used in various branding features. Similar to your brand colours, the typography you choose shapes your brand and helps get your message across.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to branding. Depending on your business and industry, you might need additional assets like business cards, product packaging or event flyers.
Assess your business and your unique needs, and then develop additional branding assets accordingly.
Branding Increases Business Value
Branding is important when trying to generate future business, and a strongly established brand can increase a business’ value by giving the company more leverage in the industry.
This makes it a more appealing investment opportunity because of its firmly established place in the marketplace. The result of the branding process is the brand, which incorporates the reputation and value that comes with it.
A strong reputation means a strong brand which, in turn, translates into value. That value can mean influence, price premium, or mindshare.
Branding Generates New Customers
Strong branding generally means there is a positive impression of the company amongst consumers, and they are likely to do business with you because of the familiarity and assumed dependability of using a name they can trust.
Once a brand has been well-established, word of mouth will be the company’s best and most effective advertising technique.
Just like with the reputation of a person, the reputation of a brand precedes it. Once a certain perception of the brand has been established in the market, an uncontrollable chain of propagation begins.
Word of mouth will pass the perception on and further reinforce or tarnish the reputation of that brand.
If the reputation is positive, potential new customers may come into contact with the brand, having an already-positive association in their mind that makes them more likely to make a purchase from this brand than from the competition.
Branding Creates Trust
A brand’s reputation ultimately boils down to the amount of trust that clients can have in it. The more you trust a brand, the better your perception of it, the stronger its reputation and, thus, the brand itself.
Earning and maintaining a certain level of trust between the company and its stakeholders is done by establishing a realistic and attainable promise that positions the brand in a certain way in the market and then delivering on that promise.
If f the promise is being delivered upon, trust builds up in stakeholders’ minds. In highly crowded markets, trust is especially important because it can make the difference between intent and action.
How to Create a Brand
Here’s how you can create a brand or begin the process of rebranding your current one. There’s a lot that goes into a brand, and there’s a lot to consider when building a strong one.
- Identify what your customers love most about your business. What makes yours stand out? What are your strengths?
- Create a brand message that conveys what your business aims to do for its customers – what you’re best at. Geico promises to save you 15% in 15 minutes. That’s its brand promise. Marriott promises quiet luxury. What are you promising your customers? And are you delivering?
- Make sure your visual elements match your message, and your brand. If you’re promising innovation, don’t use greys and boring images.
- Develop standards for employee dress and behavior that support your brand promise. Make sure they understand what your brand is and can support it.
- Apply your visuals across every marketing tool you use, from advertising to signage to store displays to mailings to shopping bags.
- If you have a physical products business, your product is probably the most tangible way that customers interact with your brand. For that reason, your packaging should reflect your new branding — in its design, colours, size, and feel.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: branding is everything. So be good to your brand and take the time to carefully curate your brand identity.
More people search for “Nike” in the United States on Google than they do for the word “shoes”. That’s the power of branding.
If Apple builds a hotel tomorrow, we’ll more or less have a rough picture of how the hotel is going to be. That’s Apple’s brand.
Branding is what gives you a reputation and, ultimately, a future. Because of the importance of branding, businesses should build a strong brand right from the start so they can consistently maintain it as they grow.
With creativity, skill and strategy, a brand can establish an identity that sets itself apart from the competition and sparks a connection with its audience.