A Few Words About Branding

Marketing is not branding. Branding is about designing your business, so as to create a foundation from which marketing can do its work. Branding is about creating the word. Marketing is about getting the word out.

Branding sets the stage for being relevant, meaningful, exclusive, and most of all memorable. It’s about acknowledging or creating a unique story or purpose that unifies what matter most— you, your staff, and your clients.

Your Brand Promise

The traditional benefits and features of your product or service do not figure into your brand. It is realizing or even creating the difference which sets you apart from all your competitors. What motivates you and your team? What is it that excites your clients? Answer these questions and you will know the overt benefit your product or service promises to provide.

Delivering Your Brand Promise

Your company must then be organized in such a way that you can deliver on your brand promise. Every action, every initiative, every plan must be carefully and obviously linked to the delivery of your brand promise.
Brand Image Means Everything
Brand image is the sum of all tangible and intangible traits — the values, beliefs, ideas, prejudices, interests, and ancestry that make it unique. Brand image can be the best, single marketable investment any company can make.
Does your brand image communicate your promise and competitive difference clearly to your customers?
Here are 5 questions to ask yourself about your company’s brand:
1. Does your brand communicate something new or different?
Does the brand convey a message that will make customers say, “Now that’s unique. I want to know more.” Think about Crest Whitestrips®. Proctor and Gamble became the first to introduce an over-the counter teeth whitening product in 2001. Soon, many other competing products began turning up on store shelves, but P&G still had the advantage because they did it first.
2. Will consumers perceive value in your brand?
If consumers perceive brand value, they’ll become loyal customers. For example, Chanel and Old Navy sell clothing, but their customers – and their well executed branding efforts – are quite different. They are both successful because when it comes to clothing, they are clear about what is most important to their respective markets. This affinity is conveyed through branding.

3. Do you live up to your brand promise?
Your customer might buy a product initially because of something they saw on television or read in a newspaper, but if it doesn’t do what it says it does, they’ll never buy it again. And word of mouth can hurt, as well as help you: Rest assured that people will happily tell others about their bad experience. Brand credibility is easy to lose and very difficult to regain. Make sure your products/services live up to your brand statements.

4. Are you targeting your market?
Mass marketing is rarely seen, these days. Today, niche marketing is the way to go. Niche marketing is especially important if you are launching a branding strategy on a small budget. Marketing specifically to your target market will be much more cost effective. For example, if your brand involves organic food products, sponsoring a ‘green’ project will build greater brand affinity than an ad placed in the sports section of the newspaper.

5. Is everyone on the same page?
Do your advertising & marketing goals correspond with the goals of your public relations efforts? Although each facet of your creative team is responsible for specific parts of the branding effort, all of the pieces must fit together if brand consistency is to be achieved. Advertising, marketing and public relations efforts must run parallel. Everyone should be communicating the same messages and targeting the same markets.

On hold messaging should be part of your branding strategy. Messages on hold can carry your brand promise to the ears of all your callers.