Branding your Business

Branding Your Business

What do we mean by the word brand? And why branding can help to make or break the way in which you market your business. Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small. An effective brand strategy will give you a big edge in increasingly competitive markets.

The words brand and branding are thrown around liberally by all sorts of people in different contexts and with different meanings in mind, so it may help to start by asking: what exactly is a brand? The simplest answer is that a brand is a set of associations that a person makes with a company, product, service, individual or organisation. To put it simply, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors’. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.

These associations may be intentional – that is, they may be actively promoted via marketing and corporate identity, for example – or they may be outside the company’s control. For example, a poor press review for a new product might harm the product manufacturer’s overall brand by placing negative associations in people’s minds. To illustrate the idea, let’s take what is arguably the best-known product – or brand – in the world: Coca-Cola.

Although essentially just a soft drinks product, Coca-Cola the drink is eclipsed by the sheer might of Coca-Cola the brand. This phenomenon is best summed up by the following quote from a cocacolaCoca-Cola executive: “If Coca-Cola were to lose all of its production-related assets in a disaster, the company would survive.

By contrast, if all consumers were to have a sudden lapse of memory and forget everything related to Coca-Cola, the company would go out of business.” None of us will forget the red and white branding easily, or the shape of the bottles, they are synonymous with Coca-cola. The brand is even stronger in people’s minds than the product. That is the task all advertising companies hope to achieve with their products. Everyone wants to stand out, no one wants to be second best do they?

The foundation of your brand is your logo. Your website, packaging and promotional materials, all of which should integrate your logo and communicate your brand. Your brand strategy is how, what, where, when you plan on communicate and deliver your brand messages to. Where you ‘advertise’ is also part of your brand strategy. And what you communicate visually and verbally are also part of your brand strategy.

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‘ versus a ‘generic soda’.

Nike Branding

The added value intrinsic to brand equity frequently comes in the form of perceived quality or emotional attachment. For example, Nike associates its products with star athletes, hoping customers will transfer their emotional attachment from the athlete to the product. For Nike, it’s not just the shoe’s features that sell the shoe!

Nike advertising uses the emotional branding technique of Heroism to inspire customer loyalty all over the world. The hero starts from humble beginnings, challenges a foe greater than he, and against all odds, prevails. Nike marketing isn’t the only group that uses this archetype. Other brands use it by identifying a foe that their viewers can identify with hating and pit their product against it to build stronger customer loyalty Nike brand strategy takes the emotional marketing story of the Hero and turns it inward. You are the hero, and your lazy side is the villain. A clever strategy that crosses all racial and cultural boundaries.

A lesser known fact of the second world war, is that the fashion designer Hugo Boss, was behind the design and creation of several GeNatzi Brandingrman uniforms worn at the time. Adolf Hitler believed that a stylish, high quality uniform, would inspire people so much, that they would be proud to wear it. The Nazi’s were experts at branding, they took the innocent Buddhist symbol for the sun, and turned it into the bold sinister swastika with its vibrant red background – forever associated with Hitler and his Nazi party, and has never been forgotten.

It just shows that branding can inspire a nation for the bad just as much as for the good. None of us wants negative associations, especially with our product, yet the power is yours to create something that really stands out in people’s minds, something they will not forget in a hurry.

Define Your Brand: Defining your brand is like a journey of business self-discovery. Requiring you to think about the following.

What is your company’s mission?

  • What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
  • What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
  • What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?

Do your research: Learn the needs, habits and desires of your current and prospective customers. Get a great logo. Place it everywhere. Write down your brand messaging. What are the key messages you want to communicate about your brand? Create a “voice” for your company that reflects your brand.

Develop a tag-line. Write a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand. Design templates and create brand standards for your marketing materials. Use the same colour scheme, logo placement, look and feel throughout. And most importantly of all – be true to your brand. Customers will not return to you – or refer you to someone else – if you don’t deliver on your brand promise. Above all, ‘be consistent’.

Do not be afraid to look at other brands and products for ideas, do try to be original with your choices, you may just become the next, Nike, Coca-cola or Google, if you get your branding correct. Do you have any questions or tips you wish to share?

2nd September 2015