What is Branding?
So you’ve probably learned by now that “BRANDING” is the single most important thing in business – as Gary Vaynerchuk said it multiple times. But do you often find yourself thinking “So what, exactly, is branding as opposed to marketing”? and “Aren’t they the same thing?”.
I know you are smart, and by now you have figured it out that they are used to define different concepts within the business realm.
Let’s first look at the definitions:
I like the way Neil Pattel, in his blog post Where Marketing Ends, Branding Begins, explains the key differences among the two concepts. According to him, marketing is a series of techniques you would typically use to attract new customers (like, using your landing page to say: “Heeeey, I’m here!”) , while branding is that unique thing that draws them to you in the first place and will keep them coming back for more.
Think of your brand as being comprised of your personality, your voice, and your message; essentially, branding is the process of establishing these traits that make you stand out and be remembered.
Based on that notion, here are five branding strategies to help you create a powerful brand that will stand the test of time:
1. Choose a Unique Brand Name
Today, the biggest tech companies have memorable names such as Google, Amazon, Apple, etc.
- Stay away from complicated names that may be difficult to pronounce
- Research whether your chosen brand name may have racist, negative or vulgar connotations in certain cultures or other languages – and avoid it.
2. Solve A Issue That your Customers are Facing
Instead of hard selling, promote what is it that you do to for your customers/ what you help people accomplish. According to Mr. Adams, VP of Gartner Inc., “consumers (…) want you to help them get something done.” In the end, the best brands are able to help customers either do something or feel something and in return they win customer loyalty. So, start thinking of what problems are you helping your customers solve!
3. Use Appealing Design to Stand out From Competitors
There is no denying that aesthetics play an important role when it comes to creating a brand for your business. From your colour choices to logo shapes, there is a psychological interpretation that your customers pick from what they see. Making sure your design is very appealing to your target niche can help create that appealing brand image that will make you stand out from competitors.
4. Use Analytics to Understand your Customers
In the social media universe brands are actively fighting to capture their ideal customer’s attention. This is becoming increasingly harder to do as more players are joining the social platforms every single day. Even the most successful brands have taken decades to get to know their target audience better. Big data and analytic tools are here to provide powerful insights into your audience such as the taste or preferences, income levels and age group. Use this market intelligence to understand your customers better and develop a brand image in a way that appeals to your audience.
5. Develop an Authentic Brand Identity
People tend to identify more with companies that share their values and ideals. A company owner that is authentic and relatable such as Gary Vaynerchuk, who takes pride in failing his school exams and embraces his failures is able to inspire a large number of followers and builds trust. Your customers should also be able to identify with your brand by how it is presented and what it says about itself. This means your brand’s culture should resonate with the personality you put out and build customer-brand relationships based on trust.
Pro Tip: Use The Brand Identity Prism
One way brands can create a strong brand identity is by using the Brand Identity Prism model developed by Jean-Noel Kapferer. According to Kapferer: “Strong brands are capable of weaving all aspects [of the prism] into an effective whole in order to create a concise, clear, and appealing brand identity.”
- Physique. This is the visual image, the physical features of a brand from packaging to colour palette.
- Personality. This is the brand’s character, created through a specific writing style or by using a person’s image. Chanel projects a classic, timeless and understated brand personality though a minimalistic approach.
- Culture. This is a system of values, usually linked to the country of origin. Apple’s uses a set of values centred around diversity, empowerment, and transformation through technology (American values).
- Relationship. This aspect differentiates brands based on the type of experience/relationship with customer they create. It can include personalised brand experiences, limited edition releases, VIP treatments and so on.
- Reflection (of the consumer). What are the characteristics of the consumers you are trying to attract? For instance, Coca Cola is projecting a fun-loving, sporty and lively image – based on its teenage target group.
- Self-image. This is the exclusivity your brand offers to the customers. Are you a Porsche owner? then you belong to this exclusive luxury car community. Similarly, Rolex owners see themselves belonging to a unique status club because they can afford luxury watches.
When you’re a new business, you need marketing to get the word out. But once people know about your brand, only your branding will keep them coming back as customers. If your brand doesn’t represent anything, or it doesn’t resonate with your audience’s taste, customers won’t keep coming back. Sure, they might try you out once or twice, but that’s it. Customers stick with companies they like and can relate to their stories through values, brand image, culture or personality.
If you are in it for the long-run, invest in your branding. It’s not enough to just produce and market the best quality and most affordable product or service in the market.
What are your thoughts? Which of the branding strategies above is the most appealing to you?
Kapferer, (2016). “Brand Identity Prism”. Available at: <http://www.eurib.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Documenten/PDF/Identiteit_en_Imago_ENGELS/v_-_Het_Brand-Identity_Prism_model_van_Kapferer__EN_.pdf>
Lung H.J. (2016) “5 Rules of Branding That Will Make You A Sought-After Superstar”. Available at: <https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/285558
Patel, N. “Where Marketing Ends, Branding Begins”. Available at: <https://blog.kissmetrics.com/where-branding-begins/>
Onibalusi S. (2017) “5 Branding Rules Your Business Needs to Follow”. Available at: <https://www.huffpost.com/entry/5-branding-rules-your-bus_b_10371430>