How to Brand a Company
By The Circus Works Team
Before we begin explaining the details of what a brand is; what branding strategy is and how it is vital in today's day and age, let's take a look at the meaning of the word brand.
- A brand refers to a class of goods identified by name as the product of a single firm or manufacturer.
- A characteristic or distinctive kind.
- A brand is a mark made by burning with a hot iron to attest manufacture or quality or to designate ownership. (This allows you to understand how the word brand, a distinctive mark, came into existence in the marketing lexicon).
- A printed mark made for similar purposes.
How did it begin?
Up until the mid 20th century, business was simple in terms of how companies sold their products and consumers made choices. Consumers made their choices based on the quality of the product and the price. But, in a matter of a decade or so, with a plethora of products making their way into the market, this exchange of products and money saw a paradigm shift.
In many ways, this was the watershed moment of marketing. The ripples of this splash changed marketing forever.
Soon, other non-branded products started getting their act together and pulled their socks up in terms of quality and pricing. The consumer was happy, the market leaders were not. A way had to be found out to maintain their leadership and keep the cash rolling.
Eureka - branding
The companies had embarked on an adventure that would forever change the way the products were sold, the way consumers made choices and the overall operations of the market environment.
Branding was, and still remains, an effort to create a unique advantage that a product can offer.
This advantage can be tangible or intangible, depending on the nature of the product or service; e.g. companies such as Coke often use intangible messages to create an emotional connect with their audience. On the other hand, companies selling cement would speak about the strength and durability of its product.
The globalised market is flooded with products in each category. Due to technical advancements, a deeper understanding of consumers and markets through painstaking research, selling has become a herculean task.
What does one do when one is competing with hundreds of companies offering the same products and services? Quality and marketing differences are minimal. Even prices stick close to each other. The idea is then to create a unique advantage or selling point that can specifically connect with your consumer. This is what branding does. It makes a product or service unique. It imbues it with character, personality, quirks, eccentricities or even panache. This way companies can stay in the market and build a loyal legion of customers.
It is vital and indispensable to understand your product vis-a-vis the products that other companies offer. Remember, you don't exist in a monopoly or isolation.
Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of your product or services is a critical step in attaching a certain importance and telling your consumer to buy your product, instead of your competitor's.
Your brand is a commitment you make to your consumer. Whenever she buys it, he is assured that he will get the same experience and value for money. Your brand is who you are, what you want to be and what you want your consumer thinks of you.
Once you have accomplished the task of understanding your offering, researching your competitor and understanding your market, it is time to flesh your brand. This entails creating a company brand logo (the logo should be simple, adaptable to various situations and good enough to stand alone with the tagline), capturing the essence of your brand in a line (keep it simple and easy to recall), creating marketing collateral (should be aligned with other visuals and references), choosing media and aligning every aspect of your business with your brand promise.
It is of paramount importance that everything associated with your company is in line with your brand promise. Right from the way your employees think about the brand, to your furniture, office and even something as apparently inconsequential as a coffee mug.
How to sustain it?
Create a brand manual
This is your Brand's Bible and go-to path. Fill it with all the dos and don’ts of your communication. Mention even the smallest things.
Branding is about creating a message, making sure you audience perceives it the way you want to and remaining consistent with a voice or tone of communication - the brand manual is your guideline for the task ahead of you.
Be your brand. Think like it, feel like it and act like it. No matter how enticing the creative is, don't change your voice. Changing your voice, acting contradictorily to your brand promise and being scattered are things that will destroy your brand.
The most successful companies have stuck to their guns and they've won the battles and the war.
f you are true in what you say, what you sell, and keep pace with the market and consumers, nothing can stop you from being a roaring success.
Remind your consumers (known as creating recall)
Keep reinforcing your brand through novel messages and ideas to make sure your consumer remembers you. Use the media where you can find your TG.
Periodically, speak to you consumers through surveys, interviews and focus group discussions.
This will help you realize how your brand is being perceived and you may make changes, if necessary.
In conclusion: Uniqueness of offering, honesty of promise, timely reinforcements and keeping abreast with the changing times is the mantra to create a successful brand.