Sometimes clients, and even trained marketing professionals, confuse the terminology associated with the tactical elements of branding. This should really come as no surprise, we marketers aren’t always the clearest in the shorthand we use to refer to matters of “the brand.” Logos, identity, messaging, positioning, brand personality – the etymology of all things brand-related is a bit unclear and it’s led to some classic misnomers. And “branding” – like “Googling” – has now even become a verb, as if it were something to be started and finished.
Let’s takes a look at branding terminology and try to make a little sense of the subject.
What is a Brand?
The most common misconception: That branding is something you choose to do – a fixed project with a start and a finish. But branding – the process by which an impression is formed in the minds of your audience – never ends. Every interaction with a company leaves a living memory in the minds of individuals – and a “Collective Perception” across a wider audience.
When the marketing planets and stars are in perfect alignment, there is sometimes “love” for a brand: an excited anticipation for something good that will happen to us if we buy that product or service. The brand, then, is a tangible realization of our abstract beliefs. Strong brands are viewed as “trusted friends,” and brand loyalty arises on the basis of emotional affinity.
A brand, then, is the unique sum of all impressions associated with a company.
Powerful Brands Help Weather the Storms
Ironically, it is the intangible nature of the brand that gives it so much potential value. A strong brand – one with positive brand equity – remains sturdy, even when the product fails to deliver on the customer’s expectations.
THE ELEMENTS OF BRANDING:
IDENTITY – THE WHO, WHAT and WHY
- The visible symbols of an organization – (Consider the Coca Cola examples above).
- It is more than a logo or a name or colors.
- “Who are you, what do you do, and why should I care?”
- The 2 – 3 facts and support points essential to an audience understanding your business.
- The essential idea you “own” – or want to own – in the minds of your audience.
THE BRAND PROMISE
- What the customer is assured of receiving – and the emotional or practical value that the customer can expect to enjoy.
- The human qualities of the brand. “If our brand were a person, how would she or he dress? What kind of car would she drive? How would he speak?”
- By considering the brand as a human, it increases the likelihood that the audience will identify and connect on an emotional level.
- The unique benefits that set the company apart from the competition.
AND FINALLY… THE LOGO!
- The logo helps to humanize a company’s presenting face, a personality in the form of a symbol.
- The logo is a symbol that triggers a flood of associations, memories built up over time, which, when taken together, add up to your personal conception of that particular brand. When all of this happens, the logo has done its job!
At Level Marketing we’ve instigated a “Brand Mapping” process for our clients. One by which the brand attributes, messages and personality can be distilled to their core, giving the organization a substantive and well-defined foundation on which to build a cohesive brand and marketing program.
Engaging in the brand mapping process forces the business to think about important strategic issues including:
- Business goals
- Corporate values
Through brand mapping we discover the core essence of the brand and we objectively define the various elements of identity and how they relate to each other. And, at a base level, knowing and having an intimate understanding of your brand and its unique attributes is what allows your company to articulate what sets it apart from the competition – and have potentially realize greater sales.