What is branding?
Your business’s brand is its unique name, image, design, logo, voice, tagline, term, symbol – basically any feature that identifies your service or product and that makes it different from other services or products. However, it’s not just the image or idea but also the feelings people will have when they think of your specific products or services. So, your vision and positioning statements (that you created in Lesson 6: Building Your Vision) actually form a part of your overall brand.
According to The Branding Journal, a great way to understand branding is to think about the example of water. Water is a free resource that technically isn’t “owned” by anyone, but it became a product as soon as companies started to commercialize it by selling bottled water. The product itself (water) looks and acts the same, so how does a company like Evian sell the exact same product as a company like Aquafina but is able to persuade people to buy their water instead of from the competition? The answer is that they created a brand.
What are some famous brands that immediately come to mind for you? Can you picture their logos, their ads, their packaging, and their company image? What kinds of feelings do they give you as a consumer? You can jot down your ideas infor inspiration.
What’s the impact of branding?
Effective branding can mean that your product stands out from the competition and that it creates the specific feeling you want people to have when they think about your product or service. This helps potential customers make easier or quicker decisions about whether to buy your product or hire you over your competition. Successful branding also adds to your business’s reputation and image. This can impact the way future employees, investors, suppliers, etc. view your business.
How do you create an effective brand?
Remember the first cog of the Three Gears of Business Design? You have to understand your audience to understand their needs, likes, dislikes, etc. This is very important when you create your brand; you have to make choices that suit your specific target customer. Your persona is especially helpful here. Some of the ways to create and show your brand include:
- Your advertising, marketing, and communications
- Your business’s visual identity (logo, website, colour choice, etc.)
- Your product design, packaging, signage
- Your pricing
- Your customer’s in-store experience or how you deal with clients (e.g., after sales service or general customer service)
- Your investors, sponsors, or partners
- Your business’s “personality” (e.g., fun, innovative, friendly, traditional, exclusive, inclusive, etc.)
If you think about The Branding Journal’s water example, advertising and packaging are probably the two biggest brand factors that help customers decide between different bottled water options.
Remember, you need to be consistent as you build your brand; make sure that every aspect of your brand reflects the same ideas, feelings, and “personality.”
It takes time and effort to build up your brand, but the easiest way to think about all of this is to remember that your product or service is what you’re trying to sell, your brand is what potential customers see and feel is the image of your product or service, and branding is the way you create that specific image.
Something that can really help you as you think about what kind of branding you want your business to have is what’s known as prototyping. Click on Next Topic to find out more!