A brand is more than a name. An established brand creates so many associations that are both tangible (such as its spokesperson, logo or jingle) and intangible (its personality, voice, feelings evoked when interacting with it). When good branding is consistently applied, a coherent core or essence develops which becomes commonly accepted. While a brand has many facets, the core or essence is what holds the brand together.
If your company is looking to differentiate itself by building a recognizable brand. Here are some things you should know when starting and moving through this process:
Define how your consumers perceive your brand today. This is your brand image. Typically, this would involve marketing research and would not be solely based on the tangible aspects of the experience or offering. Managing your brand image may be one of the most critical aspects of a successful business.
Develop what you want your brand to stand for in the future. This is your brand identity. New brands or brands with poor awareness can skip the previous step since their brand is a blank slate. Formally developing what you want your brand to stand for can be difficult because there is so much uncertainty and it’s typically not the top priority when getting a business off the ground. But formalizing this branding activity and gaining consensus on the direction will benefit the business tremendously in the longer term.
Your brand strategy is how, what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering on your brand messages. Where you advertise is part of your brand strategy. Your distribution channels are also part of your brand strategy. And what you communicate visually and verbally are part of your brand strategy, too.
Consistent, strategic branding leads to a strong brand equity, which means the added value brought to your company’s products or services that allows you to charge more for your brand than what identical, unbranded products command. The most obvious example of this is Coke vs. a generic soda. Because Coca-Cola has built a powerful brand equity, it can charge more for its product — and customers will pay that higher price.
As you can see, the branding process is a combination of art and science and contains many nuances, all of which shape your brand. But, you certainly can’t be all things to all people. Who you are should be based to some extent on who your target customers want and need you to be, choose wisely!
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