If you’ve ever Googled best practices for small business marketing, you’ve more than likely seen the word “branding” interlaced throughout the list of results. While branding and marketing are often lumped together, your “brand” is much more than that. Let’s discuss what branding is and why it is so important for your company.
First of all, branding is NOT the same thing as marketing. Whereas marketing is the promotion of a product or service (“Buy our product because it’s the best”), branding is an expression of what your product, service or company IS (“Our company has been around for 100 years and makes a quality product”). Think of marketing vs. branding as the difference between a persuasive statement compared to a factual one. Marketing is push while branding is pull. Marketing is tactical while branding is strategic. Marketing is why someone will buy one pair of Nike shoes but branding is why they will buy Nike shoes for the rest of their life.
So, how does one begin building their brand? Branding can take make forms and there are several ways that you can craft and shape your brand given the right strategy and materials. It can start with something as simple as a logo or it can be as complex as a corporate ID manual, positioning statements or a brand standards document. Your brand is comprised of several different factors such as your brand identity, brand image, brand positioning, brand personality and brand values.
Whichever efforts you undertake, they’re all steps in establishing consistency, which is an essential part of building your brand.
One of the key concepts behind a company’s brand is its brand identity. A company’s brand identity is how they wish to be perceived. Those who own and operate a company have an internal sense for what the company is or what they would like it to be. These should be the main points your company should convey in their branding materials. These materials should also include your logo, colors, fonts and guide showcasing the different forms of, and governing the usage of, these components.
Your brand image is how your brand is perceived in the minds of others. This includes how people recognize your brand (such as a logo or tagline) or what people expect from your products or services. For example, if luxury clothing brand Gucci made a discount jacket, this would devalue what the brand name means to a lot of people. Ideally, you want your brand identity to match your brand image. If there is a disconnect here, this is where a better brand strategy comes into play.
Brand identity and brand image are both abstract terms that describe the overall looking and feel associated with your brand. Brand positioning on the other hand, is more of a competitive concept. Brand positioning is how your products or services are perceived compared to other similar brands in your industry. Just like the disconnect between brand identity and brand image, there can often be a disconnect between where your brand is positioned and where you’d like it to be positioned. Even if your brand isn’t known for being the best or most popular in your industry, this doesn’t mean that your marketing can’t position it as such.
Like people have personalities, there are personal or emotional qualities that a brand has by nature. Is your brand modern? Rugged? Conservative? Elegant? These traits make up your brand’s personality. A way that you can further convey your brand’s personality is through the voicing you use. If your brand was a person, how would they speak? The messaging you use for your brand helps define its personality.
If your brand was a person, what would its core beliefs be? Your brand’s values are what is important to your brand. Does your brand value quality of its products? What about maintaining affordable prices for customers? These core beliefs help dictate how your company does business and are a large part of how customers perceive your brand.
What are the next steps in your brand-building journey? Well, the answer to this question is not necessary a simple one. Branding or re-branding is a complex process with a lot of different steps. Luckily the branding experts at DRM are here to make a process a whole lot easier. We are a Cleveland-based marketing agency that offers such services as logo design, brand design, copywriting, web development, video production, photography and much, much more. Give us a call at (330) 274-7658 or send us an email to set up a free consultation. For more information on DRM and all the services we offer, visit our website.