The definition of a brand has come a long way from the days when cattle ranchers used ‘branding irons’ to identify which cattle belonged to who. A century and a half later, the definition has become significantly more complex and, unfortunately has therefore become a lot harder to understand!
To address some common misconceptions, a brand is not just your ‘brand name’ and it’s not just your ‘logo’, although both of these attributes contribute toward your brand.
Your brand is a perception; it exists inside someone’s mind. It’s how people perceive your company, products, services and experience, in both a rational and an emotive sense. ‘Branding’ is the process of defining, maintaining, strengthening or changing that perception to positively influence their buying decisions.
So why are brands important? Brands differentiate your offering, build loyalty and improve recall and recognition over your competition’s products. You can see this in the baked beans category, for example where Heinz is by far the best selling baked beans product in the UK (where they sell more baked beans than the rest of the world combined – over 1.5 million cans a day!). However, as far as the product is concerned, it has come in just third in taste testing on multiple occasions (see for example https://www.village-bakery.com/best-canned-baked-beans/) demonstrating the power of a brand over the quality of a product.
Furthermore, when people connect meaningfully with a brand, trust, loyalty and emotive engagement will increase which will build protection from negative influences such as competitive activity, pricing disadvantages and poor media exposure. Take the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall in 2016, for example. The high profile event wiped out 98% of the profits in the mobile division and dragged company profits down by 30%. However, it did little to damage Samsung’s brand loyalty. A poll later that year found that Samsung’s customers were still fiercely loyal to the brand with 91% of current Samsung users saying they would be likely to purchase another Samsung smartphone, and 92% of current users saying they would probably buy another Samsung product in general. Despite a disastrous product failure, the company was forgiven by its customers, thanks to the value of its brand.
To successfully build a brand, it must be communicated consistently across all touchpoints a company or product has with its customers. If the brand message and experience are not consistent across all touchpoints and interactions, your unique brand advantage will be diminished. Within your marketing collateral, this means consistent messaging, visual styling, tone of voice and brand personality across your proposals, brochures, website, social media, business stationery, office or shop interior, customer service style, staff uniforms, advertising and even non-marketing communications such as invoicing. Every touchpoint should tell the same story.
A well thought-out brand will effectively portray what your business stands for and what makes it unique and appealing to your customers. It expresses the qualities, strengths and personality of your business and if strategised well, it will appeal directly to your target market, drawing them in like a moth to a flame.
What is involved in developing a successful brand?
The process in creating a powerful brand involves thorough market research to profile your customers, understand their motivations, map their buying journey and substantiate why they should be attracted to your business.
A unique brand essence, or company/product DNA, can then be defined which will provide the framework for all brand communications. This is the emotional heart of your brand, combining rationale and emotive reasons to buy with the clarity of a defined and relatable personality and brand archetype. This is the core upon which your brand purpose, positioning, value proposition and other elements of your brand strategy will be built.
Ultimately, your brand strategy will be translated into brand standards including your logo, tone of voice, brand visuals and other tangible brand elements.
An investment for business growth
The typical mindset many people face when starting up a small to medium business may be to save as many pennies as possible until the profits roll in. This unfortunately means some businesses will miss the window in creating the correct foundation required for a successful and sustainable business. It may be hard to appreciate that part of your marketing budget should put aside for brand development and that taking the leap and hiring a professional to build your brand may in fact prove to be one of your most valuable investments for long term business success.
So how much does it cost to build a unique brand strategy for your business? Well, if you are BHP, the answer would be in the $millions! But for an SME, it is really an affordable proposition that should return the investment many times over in the future. If you’d like a firm quotation and proposal for your business, simply give us a call.