What is branding?
What is the brand, and how did it start? Since the beginning of time or at least communications, people have represented themselves or their ideas in certain ways. The cave paintings showed a particular person with a certain shape, height, and color reacting with other shapes and certain colors. It was about telling stories and making you understand something about the person and their place among others.
They put it on the walls because they knew the information could be kept and communicated for some time. As people advanced, they developed other ways of communicating through the use of carved stone reliefs and eventually through papyrus and language development. Each scribe had their own unique letter that represented them. It became her identity in the narrative. They were able to put their personality and voice in the messages.
Good marketers help their clients tell a story about their business, create an image that represents them over time. Like the cave paintings, over time, the level of storytelling became more sophisticated and elaborate. Some of these channels are fast and immediate, and brands may only have a one-time chance to make an impression. So the brand has become even more important. It helps to give customers an impression, definition, and message about your company and its products or services. It should be of value and something that sticks to the customer so that they remember and create brand preference.
Customers create preferences and trust for brands that they can identify with and understand in the marketplace. Maintaining a strong brand identity across channels helps raise awareness and create those preferences. There are several things a good brand must-have.
- Complete understanding of the audience and market positioning.
- Know what makes a brand unique and stand out
- A strong and cohesive visual identity across all channels
- Clear and identifiable messages that explain what the company, product, or service is.
- Goals on how the brand will evolve and build loyalty over time.
Let’s face it, volumes of books have been written on the subject and have even been titled: What is Branding? Designing a logo is not a brand.
A logo itself is not a brand, but simply a visual representation of the brand. What is Branding can be summarized in the best of cases with the following definitive points:
Send a clear message
Your business may be in a saturated market with countless other companies fighting like gulls for a fish head. It is not about fighting for consumers to choose your company over your competitors. Rather, it’s about using strategies that distinguish you from “them” in the minds of your prospects.
Connects with the target market
This connection with your target market is only achieved when you know their needs, wants, and fears. Being able to communicate with those overriding emotions is the beginning of the branding process.
Motivate the consumer
The connection made on an emotional level not only motivates but inspires consumer response. Take, for example, a certain ‘popular brand’ when they made the infamous formula/recipe change and consequent name change. That action caused quite a stir among consumers but later consolidated the brand with the return of the original formula and the extended version of the name.
Enshrines consumer loyalty
Despite the overall bad taste of the drink, hence the need to change the legendary secret formula, consumers are loyal to the brand. So much so, that despite taste tests of nearly 200,000 consumers preferring the taste of the new formula, consumer stalwarts inundated the company with complaints about the change.
Protest groups such as the Society for the Preservation of the Real and the old “popular brand” drinkers of America were even formed.
It goes to show that once a brand is established, it acquires an entity of its own. He fixes on the hearts, minds, and lives of those who have come to trust him as their own.
Your own brand is how you establish your value to others and, in essence, provide value and develop relationships before attempting to make a sale. Fortunately, there are many ways to do this, and the best part is that many of them are free.
Just head over to Facebook, Twitter, or any of the other popular social media sites and do your research. You will quickly notice a big difference between those who are effectively qualifying themselves as experts and bringing value to others in the right way. You’ll also quickly see that most marketers are getting it wrong. That’s why a few make all the money, and the rest just spin their tires.
What is branding to you and what can it do for your business?
Simply marking yourself is the best way to separate you from the crowd and cut through all the noise out there. Your own branding effectiveness should appeal to a more targeted and compatible set of prospects. However, you will eliminate many of the people who were essentially never the right ones for you or your business.
Some ways to start developing your brand
- Social networks
- Attendance at events
Social media is probably one of the easiest but most misunderstood ways to brand yourself in any industry. Taking the time to learn the proper brand yourself on social media can pay big dividends for you and your business. Social media can take your business to a whole new level, and the best part is that it’s free.
Blogs are another great way to establish your brand, provide value, and develop relationships with like-minded people. Having your own blog these days is pretty simple, and just about anyone can do it. It is a matter of learning a few simple procedures, and with a few clicks of the mouse, you can begin the races with your own valuable blog site.
Attending live events is another one of my favorite ways to mark myself, develop relationships while socializing, and, most importantly, learn new things to share with others, providing you with valuable information that you can share with others.