It's 2011 and we here at 92 West think it's time to get back to basics; namely branding and brand development. The basics behind branding is that people often fail to recognize the difference their brand and their brand identity. Similar terms, but different in what they mean to your marketing and advertising efforts. Also, knowing some of the basics will better equip you when dealing with your preferred identity, graphic or web design professional.
What is a Brand?
As new companies come out, competition increases and creates a near infinite amount of choices. Companies need to look for ways to connect to customers to create lifelong relationships; connect emotionally and become irreplaceable...
Case in point... I don't need Starbucks... but I love it (don't tell the wife)... Although I have my questions if they love me back .
In any case, a strong brand will stand out in the densely crowded marketplace. People fall in love with brands (Starbucks ), trust them and truly believe in their superiority to their competitors.
A brand is a person's gut feeling about a product, service or company and illuminates answers to the following fundamental questions:
To sum it up, a brand should help consumers choose from the infinite amount of choices and should reassure the consumer that they've made the right choice through communication on the intrinsic quality of the item they purchased. Also, a brand should use distinctive imagery, emotional associations and language that encourage customers to identify with their brand.
Honestly, there's a lot more to this basic branding, but I think your getting the picture. Choose your audience. Communicate with them often and with consistency. Calibrate your message to entice your demographic to identify with you. Simple words... sometimes hard to do.
"It's never to late to be what you could have been." - George Eliot
|Communication is the key to great branding and when I was at AAA as an Advertising Coordinator they really stressed that their brand was best served at "Every Point of Contact". That message (thanks Becky!) has stuck with me and our clients have benefited greatly as well from that doctrine. |
Points of Contact... Not all, but a decent list:
Now, every point of contact may seem like not a big deal but have you ever called a company and simple decided against using them from how they answered the phone or how a sales person treated you on the floor. Even some of the best restaurants with great cuisine will continue to be unvisited because of one bad waiter. There's a great deal of choices out there... why would a customer subject themselves to anything less than a great experience.
Be the best brand you can be: Combine imagination and craft with intelligence and insight.
One eye sees. The other feels. That's brand identity.
Brand identity is something that appeals to the senses and generates a tangible experience. You can touch it, hold it, see it, hear it sing and watch it move. It is the fuel that drives recognition and amplifies the companies difference from it's competition. Brand identity makes great ideas meaningful and accessible; truly taking many different elements and unifying them into a seamless system.
If not... look at Target. Pepsi. Coke. Amazon. Many parts. One unified message that organizes color, spirit, message and design. The end result is something that embodies the intangibles... emotion, context and things that matter most to today's consumers... the essence of the company.
All branding is design driven and victory belongs to the most persevering. Look at GAP... they changed their logo in 2010 and a week later moved it back because of customer backlash.
Fact. Not all ideas are going to work... even if they seem great.
Victory goes to those who don't "Market Safe" and persevere even when the chips are down.
|So now that we know what a brand is and what a brand identity is... let's talk on the tactful art of Branding. |
Branding is a disciplined and in-depth process that is used to build awareness and extend customer loyalty. Great branding is driven from the top down... meaning if the CEO isn't behind what marketing is doing... you'll find their graphics staff in the bar after work bitching about why the message is failing. Make no mistake. Investing in your brand is an investment in your companies future. As technology advances we must seize every opportunity to express why individuals should choose your brand over another.
Perception is Key.
Really... what's the difference between Nike and Rebook in the 90's.... I didn't know then... and I've never invested the time... but I know that I like my Nike's .
As you proceed with your companies marketing efforts remember to invest in your core strengths and don't skimp on understanding the consumer... you may be surprised that your strengths are not what you thoughts. Next... don't fear innovation. It's a driving force that won't let you sit still while your competition passes you by. Finally... remember to communicate and do so often!
The process of branding is simple and structured.
Well... that was a bit longer than intended, but I think it's a great start for Branding Basics . I'll write more on the topic as the weeks go by.