Branding meaning: it is the process of creating a strong and positive perception of your company, its products or services in the minds of consumers, so you can differentiate yourself from competitors and build a loyal customer base. Here is everything you need to know about creating an effective brand.
Someone once said, "Companies do not sell products, nor do they offer services. Companies sell emotions, experiences and ways of living."
In fact, I couldn't agree more!
Just think about it: a product is simply something that serves to satisfy a need or desire--from a hotel stay, a flight, a language course, to clothes, food, a toothbrush...
But what distinguishes one product from all those that perform exactly the same function or are virtually identical?
What do I know, let's take water, the one you drink every day to quench your thirst, as an example: in itself, it is a theoretically free natural resource that is essential for us if we want to survive, but it has also become a commercialized product by various companies in the form of glass and plastic bottles.
However, water is still the same, isn't it? It is liquid and transparent.
So the question I ask is, how can different companies sell the same product, but still convince people to buy their bottled water instead of their competitors'?
That's why we talk about branding (and why it's something extremely important): because it gives your offering a distinct idea or image that people think of when you come to them-and that makes you obviously preferable to others.
If we return to the example of water, each brand is characterized by very specific qualities that arouse certain feelings in customers: freshness, lightness, sparkling...
However, we are not just talking about physical characteristics; we are talking about real emotions that consumers associate with each brand.
That is why a product can be easily copied by others in a market, but a brand will always be unique.
Do you agree?
Very good: but what exactly does branding mean, how does it work, what are its benefits, and most importantly, how can you create a strong and effective brand?
If you want the answer to these questions, keep reading the article!
Branding meaning: what does it mean?
"Branding is equipping products and services with the power of a brand" (Kotler & Keller, 2015)
Put another way, branding is the process that creates your brand identity and allows you to give meaning to your business, your products or the services you offer, creating and shaping a brand in the minds of consumers.
It is a real strategy with the goal of helping people quickly identify your alternative within the marketplace and, most importantly, give them a good reason to prefer it by clarifying what it stands out in and why it is better for them.
It therefore involves the research, development and application of a specific characteristic (or set of distinctive qualities) to your offering and organization in order to communicate your vision, represent who you are and express how you wish to be perceived.
All to attract and build customer loyalty or other interested parties by offering a product that is always in line with what your brand promises.
Okay, having said that, there is an important point that I would like to emphasize right away.
Often, branding is somewhat misunderstood because it is reduced to its aesthetic component: visual identity. For many, whether specialists or not, it is still about the outward appearance of a product, which includes name, logo, design, packaging, etc.
Nothing could be more wrong: a brand goes far beyond this, as it increasingly represents an intangible model of familiarity, affection and reassurance in people's minds.
Therefore, it refers to the overall experience that people have as they interact with you (not only customers, but also the partners, followers, investors or suppliers).
It is important not only because it creates a memorable impression on them, but also because it allows them to know what to expect from you.
The 7 elements of a brand
A trademark is an intangible asset composed of many elements.
Together, they help consumers identify your product and give them reasons to buy it in preference to those of your competitors.
Branding, in the most basic sense, consists of words and images (name, logo, design), but it also extends far beyond that. It includes the way you address people, your tone of voice, the style of your social media posts, as well as of course the quality of your products, customer service and even the price of your offer.
It is everything, tangible and intangible, that defines the experience your customers have when they come in contact with you.
So here are the 7 elements into which we can divide a brand:
#1 Brand voice
To secure an audience, you must develop a voice that stands out in a crowded market.
Your brand voice is the personality you convey through your communication that you use to evoke specific emotions and feelings: it helps make your brand more "human" and intimate, show your values, and create a tangible entity that people can resonate with.
#2 Brand identity
Brand identity refers to aspects of your company that are recognizable in the eyes of consumers.
So it includes all those unique design features that customers easily identify: the name, logo, colors, lettering fonts, packaging, but also the way you present yourself visually on social media and through your website.
It is what you present to the public, including your values and what people should intuit from your contents.
#3 Brand promise
Your brand promise is the unique value proposition you offer to your target audience.
This includes your company's vision, long-term goals and mission, as well as your brand principles, which define customer expectations and make you responsible for meeting them.
The more your actions are aligned with your brand promise, the more you will cultivate trust and loyalty.
#4 Brand values
Brand values are the guiding principles and beliefs that underlie your company: when clear and well-defined, they allow people to connect to something beyond your products or services.
They make you real and recognizable, serving as a compass for your strategies and interactions, empowering customers to choose you because you align with what they deem important to them.
#5 Brand targeting
Doing targeting for your brand means determining which segment of your audience you would like to reach, through segmenting your target market and identifying the characteristics of your target customer.
#6 Brand positioning
Finally, positioning refers to where your brand stands in the eyes of consumers, including how it differs from the competition.
It is a step where you take targeting one step further: it involves a marketing strategy to ensure that your tactics are the most effective in reaching your target audience.
If you want to learn more about it, read my article on brand positioning here.
#7 Brand experience
Brand experience refers to the customer's journey when interacting with your brand and your products and services-every way they come in contact with your company shapes their experience.
It is not limited to physical interactions: it extends to the Web site experience, social media and other digital channels. All of this must create a sense of cohesion for customers.
Branding & co: terms to know
Here are some branding-related words you should know.
Brand awareness refers to how familiar the general public and your target audience are with your brand.
High brand awareness causes it to be called "trendy," "interesting," or "popular."
It is essential as the first step in the buying process: in fact, consumers cannot consider buying your offer if they are not even aware of it, do you agree?
If you want to learn more, read my article on brand awareness here.
Brand equity refers to the value your company gets from its name recognition, making itself memorable, recognizable, and superior in quality and reliability to competitors-thanks in part to marketing campaigns.
It has three basic components: consumer perception, negative or positive effects, and resulting value; it also has a direct impact on sales volume and profitability.
This is a very important aspect of your company's profitability: this is because most revenue often comes from repeat business relationships with existing customers.
This means brand loyalty: repeated purchases by consumers based on the perception of superior quality and better service than any of your competitors.
It therefore does not depend on price, but on perception (image and experience) related to quality.
Brand loyalty is measured through customer retention, customer lifetime value, and satisfaction surveys; once established, it is fairly easy to maintain, assuming, of course, that product quality and service level remain high.
A Brand Ambassador is a person who is hired and paid by a company to represent its brand, promote and support it through their words and actions.
Although an established online presence is important, it does not need to have millions of followers. What matters is its role as Thought Leader and the community he has been able to create around him.
It is kind of like the "face" of that brand, but also the voice and attitude toward its customers; it leverages already established networks and relationships to market it through various digital platforms.
"Brand naming" is the activity of creating a name for a brand, based on its characteristics, target market and target audience, thus helping to define its identity, positioning, image and tone of voice.
This is an extremely important activity: you must always act in such a way as to create an idea that is adherent to the product and can be used easily and effectively in marketing campaigns.
Just like logo graphics, the name is more than just an identifier-it is the point of contact between you and your users and represents the value of your brand. When you do brand naming for your business, you are making a real statement of intent, creating a very important element in your relationship with your audience.
Employer Branding has to do with your company's reputation as a place to work.
It is how people perceive its values: it is about everything you as an employer do, intentionally or unintentionally, to promote your unique identity to your current and potential employees.
In this regard, we really talk about Employer Brand, literally translated as "the employer's brand": a real brand of your business, which is distinct from what you actually sell and thus represents what would convince a person to be hired by you or to stay in your organization.
Why is branding important? All the benefits
A strong, established and effective brand is an invaluable asset that can have a huge impact on your bottom line, giving you a competitive advantage over your competitors and helping you acquire and retain customers at a much lower cost.
Carefully building your brand through stories, reports, marketing communications, and visual assets, you have the opportunity to shape your customers' expectations and create a unique bond that goes beyond the buy-sell relationship.
It is critical because of the overall impact it has on your business: it can change the way people perceive your brand, drive new business and increase brand value, but it can also do the opposite if done incorrectly or not at all.
The purpose is to help in a simple way your customers understand what you offer and how, but not only that, it is the combination of all the ways you communicate what you stand for.
Contrary to popular belief, moreover, branding is not an "expensive marketing tactic that only big brands use." On the contrary, it has a lot to do with common sense and is strongly influenced by the market you are in and the level at which you want to play.
Whether you are a small startup or an established business, understanding the value of branding can take your business to the next step.
Having a strong brand means being consistent and recognizable; offering not only products and services, but also value and meaning.
In many ways, a strong brand is at the core of a company's success and is the result of an effective brand strategy: it can help you build trust among customers, increase your market share and sales. It can also improve the overall value of your company, attract top talent and create a sense of unity among your employees.
It is therefore essential if you wish to establish a solid reputation and distinguish yourself from the competition.
So here are the main reasons why, whether you are already dealing with it or not, you should take branding seriously:
#1 Branding is often the deciding factor in purchasing decisions
People are more likely to buy from brands they know or have already had a positive experience with-that's why having a recognizable and unique brand gives you an advantage in this regard.
If they have to choose between one product and another, consumers will tend to turn their preference toward the best-known company with a clear and defined brand identity.
#2 Branding gives your company an identity
Branding gives your company an identity that goes beyond the products and services you sell-it makes you more than just a name, especially if you develop a mission separate from your offerings.
#3 Branding sets you apart from competitors in a saturated marketplace
There are plenty of brands around the world; being able to stand out from the crowd is crucial in an increasingly competitive market.
You may offer similar products or services to your competitors, but your brand personality and reputation allow you to earn your positioning and secure your loyal customer base.
#4 Branding makes you recognizable and memorable
A strong brand makes your business memorable and recognizable to consumers.
This is especially useful when it comes to advertising: if people already know who you are, that is, brand awareness is a step already achieved, you can devote more resources to actual promotion.
Not only that, among all the ads, when a customer recognizes your brand's color, theme, logo, etc., they are more likely to choose your product over all others-this is because they are already familiar with your brand and what it represents.
#5 Branding supports your marketing efforts
With consistent branding, your marketing efforts always have a clear path to follow.
You'll spend less time finding ways to introduce yourself and more time making sure you consistently deliver high-quality content, products, and experiences that customers want.
#6 Branding builds credibility and trust
If you work effectively on branding, customers will be clear about how or why your content and products are related to your business. This helps build credibility by showing them that you keep your word and do not engage in practices that seem misaligned with what you stand for.
As a result, you also increase trust in you, which positively influences purchasing decisions: as I mentioned, a customer is more likely to do business with you if they recognize and trust you, already knowing who you are and what you stand for.
#7 Branding inspires customer loyalty and retention
Customer loyalty is based on an individual's personal interaction with your company-it is the natural effect of a continually positive emotional experience, satisfaction with your products, and perceived value.
A strong, clear identity attracts customers because they understand what you stand for, which helps them feel connected to you, and when that happens, they are more likely to be loyal. Loyal customers, in turn, generate revenue because they tend to make repeat purchases and attract new customers to your business.
Once a customer begins to recognize and purchase your products or services, good branding will keep them coming back for more.
#8 Branding encourages the word of mouth marketing
Consistent branding makes customers more likely to promote you to their friends, family, or digital followers-a remarkable marketing support for attracting new buyers and increasing revenue.
This is extremely beneficial because people take into consideration what those they trust or have a positive opinion of say.
#9 Branding helps you share your values
Customers are more interested than ever in buying from companies that share their values, so having a consistent message to communicate is critical.
Branding helps you attract interest because it goes beyond just a recognizable logo: it allows you to express your brand's mission and values.
#10 Branding retains employees and attracts new ones
In the increasingly competitive labor market, a employer branding positive is critical. Without it, hiring and retaining top talent becomes challenging and costly.
A strong brand helps you position yourself as a trusted and reputable source of work, making employees feel like they are working for something great and authentic-this makes them proud to represent your brand and business, as well as fulfilled in doing their jobs.
This will also make you attractive in the eyes of all potential future candidates to join your team.
#11 Brand supports the launch of new products.
Branding helps you easily introduce new products to the market and increase sales.
First, if you already have a consistent brand, it doesn't take a lot of work to market an offering so that it aligns with existing products and the brand message. You don't have to sit down at a table and figure out how everything will fit together, because there is already a path forward.
Second, when you launch these new products, existing loyal customers who know and appreciate the quality of your service will be eager to try what you have to offer.
#12 Branding brings a ROI high and higher profits
Being profitable is the ultimate goal, and a strong brand benefits you in this regard for two reasons.
One, as we have already mentioned, because it promotes loyalty and thus repeat purchases by your customers.
Two, because when people have a positive emotional connection with your brand, they are less sensitive to price-which means you can leverage this to position yourself in the middle or high end.
How to do branding: 4 steps to build a successful brand
Okay, on the fact that having a strong brand is important, we all agree.
But how can you create one that is such?
Here are 4 steps to follow to build a successful brand:
#1 Determine your target audience.
Branding leads to awareness, recognition, trust and more revenue. But let's take a step back and understand where it comes from: yes, from them, the consumers-most of whom say they want a personalized experience.
But how can you offer that experience if you don't have a clear idea of who they are?
If your brand doesn't resonate with your audience, it won't lead anywhere-that's where researching your target market comes in.
That's why you must first understand who your brand will speak to. Who does your product serve? Who is your ideal customer?
What you learn about your target market and your ideal buyers will influence your branding decisions across the board, so make this step your first priority.
#2 Establish your mission statement.
Another key question you need to answer right away: why did you set up your business?
Responding to this will help you build your mission statement: this statement defines your purpose as an organization, expresses why you exist and why people should come to you.
Before you can create a brand that your audience recognizes, appreciates, and trusts, you must be able to showcase what you have to offer: only then can every part of your brand (logo, tagline, imagery, voice, and personality) reflect that mission and vision.
#3 Define how you want to be perceived
There are probably many companies in your industry and niche. It is easy to focus on the competition (and there is a time and place for competitive analysis), but, for now, let's focus on you.
You need to make sure that your brand is composed of and inspired by elements that are uniquely yours: the values, benefits and qualities that make your company unique.
Take a moment to write a list of what sets your business apart from others. I'm not talking about product features (such as appearance, components, or capabilities)-I'm talking about how your offering can improve lives and contribute to the success of other people.
So ask yourself: when your customers have finished using your product or service, how do you want them to describe their experience?
Think of your brand as a promise, one that is obviously different from that of your competitors-and then deliver on it by organizing your strategy accordingly.
#4 Communicate your promise
All of your marketing materials, from the colors of your logo, to the text on your website, to what you post on Facebook o Instagram must be developed with this promise in mind and aligned with this message.
Create your visual assets by working on design, building a set of brand guidelines.
So find the voice of your brand: what would it sound like if you had a conversation with it or if it sent you a message?
Make it connect with your audience, resonate with them, and above all, be consistent-the goal is to build trust and make customers see your brand as something concrete and real.
It is at this stage that your brand becomes central to your advertising campaigns: with a clear message to convey, your ads will be even more effective.
Branding Best Practices
If you still have any doubts or uncertainties about how to make your brand clear and strong, here are finally some useful tips.
Treat your brand as a person
To best understand the branding process, think of your brand as a person. Your brand should have an identity (who it is), personality (how it behaves) and experience (how it is remembered).
Ask yourself these questions about your brand:
What would your brand look like?
If you had to describe what it looks like, what would it be like?
How would your brand talk about your products or services? Would it be serious and professional, or funny and edgy?
What would someone say about your brand after "meeting" it for the first time? What are some phrases they would use to describe it?
The purpose of branding is to create relationships with people-the easiest way to do this is to treat your brand as a person and understand that you want your customers to do the same.
People look for authenticity in the brands they support. Consistency is essential for branding because it builds trust and shows customers that your values are authentic.
Recognizable and valuable brands focus on consistency and reap the rewards. So make your brand a unified presence across all channels and platforms. This makes it easy for your customers to become familiar with, recognize and prefer your brand over time.
Build and follow a brand strategy
A brand strategy is more than a set of guidelines-it is a plan with specific long-term goals that your team can achieve as your brand evolves.
These goals typically revolve around purpose, excitement, flexibility, competitive awareness and employee engagement of your brand.
Branding is an ongoing process; a brand strategy can help you turn that process into a well-oiled practice that keeps your brand moving toward success and recognition.
Don't let inspiration turn into imitation
Competitive analysis is important: not only does it inform you about where your competition is and how they excel, but it can also give you ideas on how to further improve or distinguish your brand.
Be careful, however, not to fall into the trap of imitation. Focus on what your organization offers: just because a competitor (or two) has branded their company in a certain way does not mean you should follow suit.
According to Jeff Bezos, "your brand is what others say about you when you are not in the room."
Branding is one of the most important aspects of a successful business: it is the first impression you make on your audience and it is what sets you apart from your competitors.
Your brand is a direct reflection of what your customers should expect from you; it is your voice, your mission, your marketing content, your packaging, your website. It is why people will choose you over others.
Simply put: if a product is what you sell, a brand is the perceived image of it, and branding is the strategy for creating that image.
I hope this article has helped you get a clearer idea of what branding means.
But tell me, do you have any comments or suggestions on that?
Write it in the comments!