Branding is, above all and foremost, a discipline. It is a thought process, an idea, a personality. It is a concept that transcends the physical, visual and emotional.
Branding is a relationship, and a foundation stating who you are, what your business is, what you offer, and how you are and should be perceived.
When beginning, growing or modifying a brand, your goal is to increase or create conceptual ownership and mindshare. Mindshare is like owning a piece of the pie; of course, you want to have as much of the pie as you can.
It is important to recognize your mindshare as your audience, and to discover exactly to whom you are marketing. Then, with your brand strategies, you’ll want to positively increase your marketshare by increasing awareness of your brand.
How? First, keep in mind that everyone has a brand, even individuals, governments, retail stores, etc. But what makes up a brand?
There are several key components:
Comprised of your basic visual elements (such as your logo, colors, fonts, etc.) the identity is a pictorial or iconic representation of your brand. It is the vanguard of your brand, often the first thing your audience recognizes and often how they remember you. Examples are Target’s Bullseye, McDonald’s’ arch, etc.
After your initial contact visually with your audience, you begin to develop your brand personality. This is the “feel” of your organization. This is the environment in which you want your audience to participate. This is the emotional aspect of your brand that causes an experience-based relationship. One way to figure the personality of your organization’s brand is to ask, “If my company was a person, how would I describe them?”
Once you have established your personality, you have to explore your brand values. These are stated (and sometimes unstated) distillation of how you offer your services. Think of it as a sort of mission statement for your brand.
It’s probably the most important component of your brand— your promise. It’s your desired intent on which you must deliver. As an example, Burger King promises you can “have it your way.” Hardee’s promises that theirs are the best burgers around. A brand promise is a guarantee of what you offer. It’s most important because you have to constantly deliver on your promise. If you do not, the rest of your brand integrity will crumble.
With your brand concept, you have the boiled-down ideal of your brand. Some times, your slogan acts as your concept, some times just what the public identifies as “you.” Volvo is “safety.” Maytag is “dependable.”
PUBLIC OPINION & YOUR BRAND
The important thing is to have the public opinion of your brand to be in line with your efforts. For instance, a few years ago, Hardee’s had a poor brand image. They then introduced their Six Dollar Burger and began to positively change their image.
IMAGE & PUBLIC RELATIONS
Speaking of image, that’s a good way to think of branding— as your public image. And that’s also why in this day and age, public relations is much more important than pure advertising. There are many companies who do not advertise, but who spend great efforts on their PR. And that is key to keeping a positive image.
BRAND DIRECTION & GROWTH
Once you have all of your branding elements in place and are solidified in your brand direction, you can implement these things in your marketing and advertising, utilizing stationery, ads, brochures, radio commercials, web sites and more. And never forget that a brand must grow, change and expand, always being sure to alter your visual brand to match your goals and your environment.
Again, branding is a discipline that is all-encompassing and has to be reinforced at every moment—even down to what your employees wear to how you answer your telephone. It’s EVERYTHING that the public touches and interacts with. It is your brand. It is you.