First we want to clarify an important point, there is a big difference between marketing and branding. The former can be defined as processes and tools that people use to promote their business, including websites, social media, video campaigns and any other promotional activities. On the other hand, the latter is a culture or the message that you deliver to explain your business’s message and unique selling points. It is wrong to misinterpret the two. Branding goes way beyond advertising; it encompasses your businesses personality, reputation and voice.
The founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos likened brand to the reputation of a person. You earn reputation by doing things well. A great brand is created from many elements including trust, quality products, value for money and product or service performance.
Why is Your Brand So Important?
Branding will let you reach your target market to convince them to choose you over your competitors and also make them see you as the only solution to their problems or needs. A good brand should always:
- Deliver a clear message
- Be easy to understand
- Motivate your buyers to purchase
- Connect your target market emotionally with your products or services
- Reaffirm your credibility
- Create customer and employee loyalty
As businesses compete for customers, strong branding is an invaluable differentiator. You need to dedicate time researching, outlining and building your brand. You should consider your brand as a foundation for your marketing strategy. In other words, branding is strategic while marketing is tactical. The latter is what you use to present your brand to your customers. This is the reason why branding is very important to any size of business.
A successful brand strategy communicates to your target market the objectives of your business. This enables you to align your marketing plan with the businesses objectives and goals. Branding will create loyal customers and employees. This is because it gives them something tangible to believe in and stand behind.
When Should You Start Branding?
Starting a business is one thing. However, it comes a time when you realise that you need to create a brand to drive your marketing activities. For some people, this happens during the business conception process while others take years to do so. There are many reasons why you might need to consider branding, including:
- When Starting a New Company
If you are starting a new business, it would be beneficial to consider branding first. Here, you will decide on theme, design and tone of the business as these will play a big role in your company’s future success.
- When You Need a Name Change
A company’s name is one of the most important parts of your brand. Coming up with a great name can help you stand out from all your competitors, positioning you as the leader in the industry. It could also communicate what your business is all about. If you use a weak name, it is highly likely that it will be forgotten quickly and limit your brand’s exposure. Most leading consumer product companies know and understand this and they create names that connect to their marketing strategies.
- When Merging Companies
Whenever two or more companies come together, leaders need to make a number of choices about their combined portfolio. In such cases, brands can be transferred to the mother company’s brand names, or the original name could be retained. Another option is dual-branding. This is where two brand names get combined. The strategy is followed when bringing two companies together by combining their names to create a new one. Time Warner is a great example of dual branding.
- It’s an Ongoing Process
Once you’ve defined the key principles of your brand it doesn’t just stop there. Refining and expanding your brand is an ongoing process. A succesful brand incorporates new ideas and emphasises its successes by adapting the brand. An example of this approach is Microsoft. They have “re-invented and refreshed” their brand at key stages through their growth. In 1995 Microsoft became a global brand and household name with Windows 95, more recently their brand incorporated the Xbox platform and they extended their brand to incorporate a new voice and tone for that audience and demographic.
How Does Your Brand Stack Up?
Getting your branding right can be more complex than the marketing activities you use to promote it. We’ve gathered a quick checklist for you to ask yourself about your own brand:
- Is your brand correctly aimed at your target audiences?
- Is your brand easily understood?
- Is your brand emphasising your unique selling points?
- Is your brand demonstrating your credibility and reputation?
- Is your brand engaging your employees?
If the answer to any of the questions above is NO, then you need to talk to us. Blend specialise in helping businesses to get their brand strategy right. We can ensure your brand outlines your core business values, defines your unique culture and communicates your reputation.