There's so much content being shared online and in traditional media spaces like TV and billboards. When people see the marketing material that your company puts out into the world, they form an impression of your company and should be able to associate it with you. This is however not always the case. And when that happens, it's usually because of inconsistency in the branding - your message is not related to your company, your content on social media is not related to your website, your people's behaviour is not aligned to your company values etc. In the long run, your goal, when building a brand, is to create a strong and positive perception.
Let's unpack what constitutes a brand and good branding.
What is branding in marketing?
In the past, branding had always been viewed as assigning a symbol or design to a product or service - a business. However, this is not a very accurate depiction and definition of what branding is. Branding is more than just a symbol or visual identity.
Branding is the process of creating a memorable and positive perception of your company, products or services. It encompasses the visual identity (logo, design and consistent themes) in your marketing communication layered onto your mission, vision and strategic goals.
By branding your company, products or services, you give meaning to it in a consumer's mind.
Branding is endowing products and services with the power of a brand -Kotler & Keller, 2015
What does good branding comprise?
A brand is a feature or set of features that distinguishes and differentiates products and services from each other. In order to shape the perception of your brand in the eyes of your consumer or any other relevant stakeholder, you can use the following tools:
1. Brand personality
Brand personality is a representation of the brand's values and how it behaves. It’s what makes a brand unique and memorable, so it needs to be right.
Brand personality is also a combination of the brand's values and its visual identity (logo, colours, fonts). This means that while there are many aspects of your visual identity that you can change over time (such as your logo), you shouldn't alter your core values in order to do so. In other words: if you value honesty above all else—don't compromise it just because “honesty sells."
2. Brand definition
Brand definition is the purpose, values and promise of the brand.
In order to build a strong brand, you need to define what your business stands for.
Why does it exist?
What does it do?
What is its purpose or mission?
The answers to these questions will determine your value proposition; what are you offering that’s different from competitors and makes customers choose you over them.
Values can be described as principles or beliefs that guide us in life but also influence our actions, decisions and behaviours toward others (or ourselves). The values should reflect who you are as a person/organization but also what is important to your customer base e.g., trustworthiness and honesty for banks, healthiness for food manufacturers etc.
Finally, a clear promise about what products/services deliver on those promises will make sure people know exactly how they can benefit by working with/buying from you.
3. Brand identity
Your brand’s identity is what gives it a distinct personality in the marketplace. It also conveys how you want to be perceived by your customers or stakeholders.
In addition to what we just talked about above, brand identity also includes:
The tone of voice you use when speaking with customers (your voice on social media, emails and in other communications) - helps set who you are as a business. It's also one part of how people will recognize whether they're interacting with someone from your company or not.
Your visual identity design makes up the visible elements that allow your customers and consumers to easily identify and differentiate your brand. A consistent visual identity allows your audience to easily spot your brand in a crowd and link it back to you. This will trigger the emotional response that they associate your brand with. Brand visual identity elements consist of
the logo or brand symbol
brand typography or fonts
brand images(which includes the logo design, colour palette, typographies…)
4. Brand positioning
Brand positioning is a statement that describes the brand in relation to the competition, its target audience, and/or other brands in the same category. For example: "Google is a search engine that makes users smarter by providing them with instant access to information on any topic."
Brand positioning is important because it helps consumers understand your product or service and decide if it's right for them. It also determines how you define yourself compared to your competitors—which is important because it helps you shape your vision for the future of your business.
5. Brand experience
The brand experience is the sum of all the interactions that a consumer has with a brand. It includes the physical experience, emotional experience, and social experience.
The physical experience entails how your product looks and feels; for example, if you're selling a perfume that smells good but comes in an ugly bottle or box. The emotional experience part involves how consumers feel about using your product. For example, if they like how it makes them smell when they wear it to work or on date night. The final piece of the puzzle is the social experience — how other people react to their use of your product. For example, if their friends compliment them on how good they smell wearing this particular scent.
The takeaway here is that no matter what type of marketing strategy you employ (i.e., paid ads versus organic ones), it's essential that you consider all three aspects when creating an effective brand identity: appearance (packaging), aroma/flavour (product), and word-of-mouth marketing via social media platforms such as Instagram Stories where users can share their positive experiences with others through pictures, and showcase what's inside their handbags instead just showing off fancy clothes & jewellery.
In the end, a brand is more than just a name and an image. It’s an experience — one that connects with people on a personal level. Branding is about creating an identity that resonates with your target customers, but it all starts with understanding who they are and what makes them tick. When you understand this, then creating a strong brand becomes possible.