What is Branding?
Companies and consumers take their products personally. Emotional connection, compatibility, loyalty… many of the values associated with branding also go along with interpersonal relationships. And just as in a social connection, a company that wants to be liked, valued and trusted by its customers needs to project a good image, make a strong initial impression, inspire confidence and remain connected. This is accomplished through branding.
Branding is an ongoing process whereby a business creates a presence in a consumer’s consciousness, including an image of the company and an impression of the product. Simply put, branding differentiates a company from its competitors and establishes the qualities that make a product worth buying. Branding includes everything surrounding a business’ image, and incorporates the company’s identity, logo and marketing.
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Brand and Identity
Companies want to establish a relationship with buyers. Buyers who like a brand will buy their products, seek them out instead of competitors, remain loyal over time and promote their products through word of mouth. When companies engage in branding, they are saying to consumers, “this is who I am, this is why you should like me.” A brand is, essentially, the company’s personality: it’s values and the qualities that make it unique. A company’s identity, on the other hand, is its appearance: the look and style that show off those values. In this analogy, a logo is a company’s face: a headshot that calls to mind the whole entity behind it. A company that wants to be popular needs to have a strong brand, strong identity and strong logo, and all need to work hand-in-hand.
Good branding establishes and maintains a relationship with customers. To do so, good branding must do the following:
- Communicate a clear message: The company’s story and values, summed up clearly and succinctly. A message communicates to the customer why the company or product is special.
- Back up the message: Examples that demonstrate the company’s stated values. Backing up the message establishes for the customer why the company is reliable and builds trust.
- Establish an emotional connection: Content that inspires feelings, such as humor, excitement or pleasure. Establishing an emotional connection makes the customer care about the company.
- Build loyalty: Ongoing reiteration of the message. Building loyalty through new ad campaigns and logo updates keeps the brand relevant to the customer and keeps them engaged with the company.
Why settle for good branding when you can have great branding? Visual devices make the difference between a good brand and a great one. Thoughtful and innovative visual devises can make a logo, package or ad campaign as important as the product behind it. Even better? Staying clear and consistent by tying them all together. Target is an excellent example of great branding through well-thought out and integrated visual design. The brand’s message is all about making well-designed items affordable, and the in-store brand of clothing and household goods, “Threshold”, is simple and chic. The chain’s tagline sums up their mission succinctly: “Expect more. Pay less.”