You walk into a Best Buy and scoop up a 4K Samsung, into a car dealership and plunk down a wad of dough on a BMW, or find yourself staring down a Breitling watch in the jewelry showcase, not so much a Fossil.
Make no mistake, consumers are wired to buy brand. Most people commonly mistake a logo for a brand, but there’s nothing further from the truth. Brand, branding and brand identity are completely different concepts, and they’re commonly misused or misunderstood.
People don’t buy a BMW because they like the logo: They buy it because of what BMW represents—luxury, elegance and German engineering (not three letters in a circle). A brand is the sum total of the experience, perception, legacy and actions your targets have with your company or organization.
A strong brand communicates what your company does, how it does it and at the same time, establishes trust and credibility with your audiences. Branding is also about your company’s reputation; the way your company’s products and services are advertised and about a company’s values.
It’s a promise you make to people about your products and services and most importantly, your company. Your brand is a living, breathing entity that interacts with customers, clients and prospects on a physiological level. It’s further reinforced by images you share, messages you post on social properties, content you share, but most importantly your actions as a company. It’s your corporate DNA. Consistency in messaging, images, tone and voice help build brands faster… and with the help of bigger budgets, even faster.
But hear this loud and clear: Your brand is not what you say it is. Your brand is what people perceive it to be.
So now that we all understand what brand is, what’s branding?
Branding is the process that develops a unique business name and logo, your brand identity. Truly understanding which colors to choose, or what fonts to use, the types of art or imagery will have a direct bearing on your brand. Are you too corporate, too whimsical, not serious or knowledgeable enough? All these factor into how your brand will be either embraced or ignored.
There’s an exact science behind this. It has everything to do with building a brand strategy, evaluating your core identity, conducting market research, performing a competitor analysis and developing personas for your target audience. It has nothing to do with buying a $99 logo online, but has everything to do with how people evaluate your brand: Is it honest, is it memorable, is it relatable, is it believable? The goal of the branding process is to build awareness and loyalty that powers business growth.
A strong brand identity can mean the difference between your company succeeding beyond your wildest expectations and it crashing and burning.
So, let’s have some fun: I’m sure we can list hundreds of businesses that have done branding right, but what brand out there do you think failed miserably?