You’ve heard the term “branding” before, but what is branding? There are many parts to the concept, and to understand it fully, you’re right to seek out a few definitions. Whether you’re starting a new business, looking to establish your existing brand on the market, or are simply interested in expanding your knowledge base, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll look into what branding really is by breaking it down piece by piece. Get ready for a crash course in Branding 101. First, let’s tackle the basics.
What is a brand?
To truly understand what branding is, you first need to know what a brand is. Cambridge Dictionary defines it as: “a type of product made by a particular company and sold under a particular name.” Another definition of the word brand is one that nods at the mark given by cattle ranchers. In this sense, a brand is a trademark of sorts, a way to distinguish between one business’ “goods” and another’s.
Today, the word “brand” isn’t limited to a description of a company selling hard goods though, you’ll see the word used to describe services, people, and corporate companies as well. For example, a blogger may establish themselves in a particular way to attract a certain type of audience. The name of the blog, what they write about, how they write it, and the overall aesthetic of their website becomes their personal brand. If you’re not big into raw, gluten-free, and clean meals, why would you visit a food blog called Detoxinista?
By modern definitions, a brand is the image a company chooses to represent itself. When we say “image,” we don’t mean a particularly beautiful JPEG. Like the example of the blogger, there are many things that go into the creation of a brand to make it stand out from competitors. That’s why you know the difference between Haagen Daz and Breyers or Pepperidge Farm and Chips Ahoy.
But what about companies that offer services that can’t be distinguished by packaging, like yoga training or plumbing? How do they create their brand? This is where the concept of branding comes in, and why it’s so important.
What is branding?
One of the purposes of a brand is to let consumers know what your company is all about. It helps separate you from other similar products or services and gives you your own voice and space in the market.
Take bottled water for example. Why do you gravitate to Evian over Dasani? Why do we associate Fiji or Voss with luxury? Even though these brands are all selling clear water, somehow, they’ve managed to differentiate themselves from each other and have created a unique brand image.
Despite products or services being different in what they offer, how they look, and what they taste like, more so, a brand is an idea consumers have when they think about that product. Starbucks is a great example of powerful branding. People associate the coffee house with socializing, youthfulness, warmth, and seasonal fun. Carrying a cup with a Starbucks logo is seen as trendy. This didn’t happen overnight.
Sure Starbucks makes tasty drinks, but so do many other coffee houses. It’s only with decades of smart branding moves from the multinational chain that it’s had such success.
Before we move into the importance of branding, let’s quickly recap what we’ve been through so far:
- A brand can represent a product, service, person, or corporation
- Brands establish an image with the public through branding
- Products and services are distinguished by their unique branding characteristics ie. pure, luxurious, eco-friendly, etc.
- Brands can be associated with both the practical (ie. “Starbucks coffee tastes good”) and the emotional (ie. “I feel trendy when I drink Starbucks coffee”)
The importance of branding
Simply put, if you’re not vibing with a brand, you won’t buy it. There’s a reason you choose Seventh Generation laundry detergent over Tide Pure Clean just as you might pick Tylenol over Advil. At the end of the day, the purpose of your company is to attract business, but more so, your target customer base. To do that, you need to create an image that they identify with.
So how do you do that? First, it’s important to know who you are as a brand, what your values are, and what you want to be known for. Here are a few things to consider:
- Brand Definition: This is the most basic, but most important part of your brand. Identify your purpose, mission, and values
- Brand Identity: Who are you? You’ll choose a name for your brand, the tone you communicate with (casual, trendy, professional, etc.), and establish a visual identity (logo, colours, fonts, etc.)
- Advertising: Choosing where you’ll advertise is crucial to creating an image, but it also helps to attract your target audience. Advertising on social media is great, but it doesn’t work if your target audience prefers reading the newspaper
- Sponsoring & Partnerships: If you decide to partner with another business or service, make sure to choose one that’s relevant to what you do. For example, if you make eco-friendly products, why would you partner with a brand that uses a ton of plastic?
- Packaging & Product Design: Branding reaches the very core of your businesses. Take Pepperidge Farm Sausalito cookies for example. With a traditional, home-baked image, its cookies are large like the ones your grandma might have baked, and they’re packaged in a simple, traditional paper bag
Branding trickles down from the actual product or service you sell to how to treat customers, how you price your goods, and what it’s like to shop with your business in-store. It’s a 360-approach that takes into account every single aspect of your business, positioning you in the right place at the right time to get noticed.
Creating a powerful brand image takes a ton of planning and strategizing, but it’s key to any successful business. Before launching your company, make sure to do your research. You don’t only want to attract customers, but keep them for life, and establishing the right brand image can help. Contact us today to take a deeper look into what is branding.