It seems if you ask 100 marketers you will get nearly as many definitions or explanation of what is branding. This is because so many things play into creating a brand, in general, but depending on the industry or type of business some of the methods and strategies can be very different.
Wikipedia defines branding as “A set of marketing and communication methods that help to distinguish a company from competitors and create a lasting impression in the minds of customers.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brand
The Business Dictionary defines branding as “The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.” http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/branding.html
At IMPROZ, we hold that branding takes a company’s values, vision, passion, purpose, and culture and connects those elements to its customers. Executed correctly, branding will make a company unique compared to its competitors and create an emotional and loyal bond with its customers. With the power of social media and the Internet, branding has never been more important for your online marketing success as well.
Emotion & Experience Play Important Roles In Branding
Emotion – Customers’ feelings about a company can create loyalty that can sustain a firm when faced with challenges by competitors and macroeconomic cycles. This impact of emotional association with a brand plays significantly in even the largest global organizations.
Coca-Cola is a prime example. Think about every aspect of Coke’s advertising and marketing, emotion is always front and center. Coke’s message is that Coke makes like better and the product is featured and tied to events and holidays that invoke joy, happiness, fun and excitement. Santa likes Coke. Polar Bears like Coke. Grandma loves Coke for Thanksgiving. Father and son enjoy a Coke at a Football game. Have a Coke and a smile. What came first? – The Coke or the smile? And on it goes. Taste, nutrition and other facts about the product are not addressed in most of these communications. The days of the blindfolded taste test ended decades ago. Coke knows that human emotion and association creates far larger dividends than listing product specifications or taste challenges can.
Experience – When creating your brand, what is the experience that customers have when interfacing with your company and products or services?
Apple gives its customers products that are easy to use and reliable. By making products that are dependable and focused on satisfying the customers’ needs, Apple can embed positive associations in its customers’ minds. Apple customers associate Apple with innovations that are easy to use and increase productivity. Could the PC market charge a premium for a laptop and expect to get it like Apple?
The Ritz-Carlton delivers an experience that it customers are hard pressed to find anywhere else. Surpassing customer expectations is what Ritz-Carlton properties around the world do every day. In survey after survey, Ritz-Carlton ranks at the top for customer satisfaction and loyalty. From their website to their properties to their personnel, every interaction and touch point with customers is carefully wrapped in luxury, attention to the most subtle detail and an uncanny ability to anticipates it’s clients needs. The Ritz-Carlton understands its customer, their needs and their affinity to its brand – and they continually cultivate the relationship.
So we have gone over an example of Coke leveraging emotion directly to build their brand and The Ritz-Carlton’s use of luxury, efficiency and a client-centric approach to define their brand. But there is more to branding than creating an emotion and delivering a unique experience.
So now we have covered two important aspects of branding, but there is still more to cover. Think about what emotions people have about your company, its services or products. What do you do better than anyone else? What is special or unique about your organization and what it does, gives or emotes for customers?
IMPROZ Branding Services
Sometimes it can be difficult to self-evaluate. Being so close to something can results in important aspects – both positive and negative – being overlooked or taken for granted. It is for these reasons that when working with new clients, we always conduct a branding session.
IMPROZ Client branding services always reveal new information, views, and unique differentiators. We have a structured process and methodology for our branding services that not only helps clients deeply focus on their brand (and many times see themselves in a new light) but how they connect with their customers. Working closely with clients in branding sessions, also helps us to understand goals, objectives, opportunities and what drives the company. This information allows us to create or update logos that capture the essence of a company, craft content that speaks to customer needs and provides information and intangibles that cascade through collateral, communications, web design, e-commerce, advertising, social media and more. It is a challenging process but a very rewarding and revealing one for both client and consultant.
Here are a few of the questions that we guide clients through in a typical branding services session:
- What differentiates you from everyone else?
- What is the basis of our brand commitment, or the promise you make to customers?
- What are you known for?
- What do you want to be known for?
- How do you want customers to feel as they engage with your company?
- How do customers currently feel when they engage with you?
- Do customers feel that your website and online marketing extend your brand?
- What is the demographic makeup of your customer?
- Is your online marketing aligned with your brand?
Thinking deeply about the above questions will give you a jump start on creating your brand and better connecting with clients – and thereby growing your business.
There is an emotional association with a product/service that makes for the brand “feeling” experienced by a prospect or client. This feeling, impression or association that a brand emits can be a combination of many elements: colors, shapes, images, graphics, messaging, content, emotion, even subliminal message; they all aid in creating a connection. A personal link with your brand is why customers will buy from you – or not.
How is your brand? Is it positioning your organization where it needs to be with your customers? Continue the conversation. We are passionate about helping businesses grow.