April 10, 2023 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
When people think of your company, what do want their reaction to be? Most companies want their audiences to feel fulfilled and satisfied. Maybe you want to invoke a specific emotion or memory. The way you can direct your audience’s feelings and emotions about your company is through branding. Today, we’re looking at what branding is in marketing and how you can start developing or reorganizing your branding today:
The branding process creates a distinct identity for your business. Your branding is what your audience most associates with your company. It often addresses the senses, usually through visuals and auditory clips. Branding also focuses on the company’s values, message, and voice. If your business was a person, who would it be? Would it be funny and sarcastic, or serious and compassionate?
Having solid branding helps distinguish your company from its direct competitors for your audience. It helps them understand what your company stands for and why. Branding also refers to the overall experience audience members have when interacting with your brand.
Every brand has an identity, whether you work to develop one or not. This is because your audience makes judgments about your company every time they engage with it. These interactions can be anything from in-person store or office visits to conversations with team members to browsing online or on social media. People form opinions about your company on their own. With branding, you can influence these perceptions with subtle, simple actions.
When you’re in control of your branding you have a better chance of your audience seeing your company in a favorable light. It’s a conscious choice to present your brand in a specific way rather than leaving it completely up to the public to decide who your company is and what it stands for. Branding also helps align your company’s words with its actions. if your mission statement says that you stand for quality products and services but your company’s actions don’t reflect that statement, your audience will see right through it.
With effective branding and a strategic plan, you can ensure that what your company says aligns with what it does to protect that image and identity.
When most people think of branding, they initially think of company visuals. Your brand logo, mascot, typeface, and colors are all part of this visual identity that clients and customers associate with your company. For example, Target’s visual branding includes the colors red and white, the bullseye logo, and the Helvetica font.
But branding goes beyond visuals. Your company’s mission statement and the tone of voice you use when communicating with customers or in marketing and advertising are also part of your branding. Less common features that shape how your audience views your company include:
Although branding helps establish your company’s identity, there are other direct business benefits to these activities. Some of them include:
There are four key areas to focus on when developing your branding. They include:
A brand promise is a pact an organization makes with its audience. You can think of the brand promise using this formula: if our company does X, you’ll get/receive/be able to do Y. When you’re deciding on your brand promise, consider what your company can do and what it can deliver. Your brand promise often appears in your company mission and values statements. They also appear in all customer interactions with your brand.
Brand positioning is determining where your products or services fit within their market. This type of positioning takes strategic planning to focus on what makes your company different from others in the same industry. Most companies develop a unique selling proposition to highlight specific brand areas that set them apart from their competitors.
Your brand personality is everything that defines your brand from a visual and stylistic perspective. This includes your logo, mascot, colors, fonts, brand voice, store layouts, and other similar elements. Your brand personality helps set the tone for who your company is to your customers. Is it a reassuring parental figure? Is it a relaxed best friend? Knowing “who” your brand is helps define your company.
Brand associations help your audience understand where your company “fits” into society. This is different from brand positioning. It’s not about determining where your products and services slot into a market. It’s about the “clique” where your brand belongs. Does your brand associate with luxury companies? Which influencers plug your company? On what other sites or channels can audiences find your advertisements or content? Your brand associations help your audience decide if your company fits in with the lifestyle of the groups they spend time with.
Read more about it: What Is a Brand Strategy and How Do You Create One?
Branding is a complex process that requires constant attention to get right. Here are a few tips to help you when starting your branding journey:
One of the most important elements of branding isn’t actually an element at all: consistency. If you’re setting parameters of how you want people to view and remember your brand, you need to make sure you’re covering them everywhere your audience interacts with your brand. This may include keeping a consistent voice across your digital channels or providing training for customer service professionals on how to interact with clients. No matter what channel your audience visits or the brand representative they interact with, they should always have an experience that lives up to your branding standards.
While branding is all about establishing your company identity, you’re doing it to please your clients and customers. The more you know about your target audience, the better you can structure your branding or rebranding to fit their needs. What do your clients like? What attracts them to a company, product, or service? What could you do or change to better align your company with their needs?
It’s important to remember that all your efforts can’t force your clients or customers to feel a certain way about your company. But paying attention to their wants and needs gives you a better chance of them seeing it in a favorable light.
Despite what you think, your company doesn’t sell products or services. It sells experiences. Some brands even sell ideologies. In short, building a loyal customer base doesn’t come from the product and service quality alone. It comes from every interaction with your brand.
While your products or services might be apples-to-apples comparisons with your top competitors, the experience you provide for clients could sway their purchasing decisions. This is why branding is so crucial. Focus on the entire experience of working with your company when developing your brand. The more you can connect with your audience outside the sale, the better chance you have of increasing their loyalty.
In marketing, branding doesn’t always stand alone. Here are some other branding terms to know and understand when you’re working through the process:
Branding is an important element in content marketing. When you understand your brand, developing your content marketing plan becomes simpler. You’re better able to identify your audience and know exactly what they want to hear and how they want to hear it. The more consistent you can be with every piece of content, the more likely you’ll be to draw in your target audience and keep them coming back for more interactions.
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