Most marketing experts talk about ‘branding’ a great deal – they refer to “branding your company” or the importance of “consistent branding” in your marketing efforts. But what does this really mean? Why is branding important? Here’s some information on what branding is all about and why it makes a difference in business, as well as a few tips for building your brand.
What is branding, anyway?
In marketing, branding refers to the creation of a name, symbol (such as a logo) or design that identifies what your company is and does. Not only that, but a brand also helps differentiate your company’s products or services from your competitors – it helps express who you are and what you offer.
For instance, as part of their brand, many companies have established logos that you can immediately recognise without seeing the company name at all – and just by seeing the logo, you know exactly what they offer. Here are a few examples:
Seeing each of these probably also makes you feel something, such as, “Oh, I love my new iPhone!” or “Ah, that’s my bank,” or “Ugh, I hate Big Macs!” In each case, you have some type of recognition and reaction.
A company like Apple, for example, sells many products, but you immediately recognise their logo and know what it represents. Whether in print, online or on a billboard – and whether it’s black and white or in colour – you know that symbol and the company it refers to. If you want to buy a computer (or a smartphone) and it has the Apple logo on it, that immediately tells you something about the quality of the product and what to expect. Plus, you’re going to be willing to pay more for it than for a computer from a company you’ve never heard of because Apple has established itself as a leading, high-quality brand. Just as an aside, I was delighted to visit the new Apple store in Adelaide recently. Their strong brand certainly pulls in the punters, as seen in the photo I took.
Defining your brand
Your brand is ultimately your promise to your customer. You want to create a brand that not only helps your customers identify you, but helps you create a connection with them – and ideally, you want them to choose your brand over your competitor’s. So how do you go about building a strong brand? Here are three starting tips:
1) A logo by itself is not a brand, but having a good logo that can be used in all kinds of applications (such as in print, online, on t-shirts, etc.) is an important start. Work with a good designer to help create something that represents who you are and what you do.
2) Have clear guidelines about what your company offers and stands for – and then make sure that message gets communicated to your employees and customers in everything you do. Is great service what sets your company apart? Low prices? High quality? Whatever it is, share that message and back it up in practice.
3) Be consistent with your brand. Once you have a good logo and an established look for your brand, use it in your invoices, ads, on your website and in your emails to communicate your message. Help your customers learn to recognise you.
Have questions? Need some help building or improving your brand? We can help – contact us today.