One of the most hyped up words and the one that is most often confused is “Branding“. It means many things to many people and the level of understanding of the true meaning of branding represents the level of success one sees in their own branding endeavours. So, today I decided to lay the foundation for clearing what branding is about. To start with, most people think that branding is just the visual aspect of creating the logo or perhaps the colors and typography and things like that.
Although a major part of branding is the visual language such as the logo and colors, the most important aspect of branding is crafting the experience that people get when they come in contact with your brand. So the experience starts with the visual aspect and therefore your brand mark and other touch points such as your website or your business card are important aspects of your brand, but other touch points will be things like customer service, pricing strategy, your brand story, communication messages, and other such items.
So what is a brand?
Wikipedia defines a brand as follows:
A brand is a name, term, design or other feature that distinguishes one seller’s product from those of others. Brands are used in business, marketing, and advertising. Initially, livestock branding was adopted to differentiate one person’s cattle from another’s by means of a distinctive symbol burned into the animal’s skin with a hot branding iron. A modern example of a brand is Coca-Cola which belongs to the Coca-Cola Company.
But this definition does not do the term justice and does not help business owners at all.
Some times the name of your company or product itself is considered to be the brand. While this may be true in the trademarking sense, it still does not portray the true nature of what a brand is. Understanding what a brand truly means can help business owners go beyond the limits of their vision and marketing and aspire to take their business to the next level.
Language is powerful. We have words to represent the things, ideas, and concepts that we come in contact with on a daily basis. Those with better vocabulary have a better understanding of concepts. If you know what “transmutation” means for example, then you understand the various concepts underlying that procedure and this puts you on a higher level of thinking.
If you realize that branding is much more than getting a logo designed, getting a website in place or some printed material ready to give away, then your marketing strategy expands and the scope of creating the right impact on your target audience goes up exponentially.
Ok. Enough of the philosophy behind this term. Let us get to the point.
A better definition of a brand
A brand is a set of perceptions and images that represent a company, product or service. A brand is actually much larger than a logo, tag line or audio jingle. A brand is the essence or promise of what will be delivered or experienced by those who come in contact with the brand.
The key points to note here are the words “promise” and “experience”. These two words define what branding is all about. It is the process of identifying and communicating a brand promise and then working hard to ensure that the promise if delivered upon through experience that is felt and measured.
So the next time you think about your brand or marketing strategy and put ticks against items such as “logo design” or “stationery design”, think twice. Consider taking a birds-eye view to understanding how what promise your brand is making and what experience your target audience is having. If you see no promise, then it is time to start working on that!