How does branding succeed?
In order to stay on the market, it is no longer enough to simply offer a good product. You should establish yourself as a strong, distinctive brand. In this respect, the term “branding” is on everyone’s minds. Branding determines how your stakeholders perceive your brand and what they expect from it. This alone is reason enough to take a close look at the topic of branding.
What is branding?
To explain the term “branding”, it is first necessary to understand what a brand actually is. A brand is defined as “the sum of all the perceptions that a brand name or trademark evokes in the customer.” In short, a brand reflects the perception of a company or product in the eyes of customers. Branding is the underlying process that concerns all activities aimed at creating a distinctive brand. This includes all investments made in the development of a desired image. The goal of the whole process is ultimately to build a brand identity. The brand identity, in turn, is composed of concrete elements that make the brand unmistakable and immediately recognizable to the customer. Why a brand identity is so indispensable becomes immediately clear when you look at the saturated markets. Only through a meaningful brand identity can one still stand out from the crowd today. Branding can therefore be defined as the development of a brand towards its own identity, or as the process for building up and recognizing a brand among customers. It is therefore also mainly about anchoring values permanently and recognizably in the customer’s consciousness. As can be easily seen, branding is enormously important for marketing. After all, a positive association with a brand, which is uniformly conveyed across all channels, creates trust among customers and thus ensures long-term customer loyalty. Before starting any branding, however, the first question is whether the brand is defined as the entire company or a product. In this context, the terms “brand identity” and “corporate identity” are often used synonymously, but they express different things.
What is the difference between brand identity and corporate identity?
The result of any branding is the brand identity. This is the brand identity described above. It determines which values and which characteristics the brand wants to represent internally (to its employees) and externally (to its stakeholders). Accordingly, the brand identity is the self-image of a brand. It comprises a “collection of all relevant brand elements and brand characteristics”. In this context, we also often speak of brand management and brand positioning. The latter is about positioning the brand in the customer’s perceptual space, and brand management is about maintaining the brand identity. After all, a brand image that has become anchored in the minds of customers can be weakened or even destroyed by a contradictory appearance, by quality problems or by other irritations. That’s why it’s all the more important to ensure the individuality of a brand (= brand identity), especially in saturated markets. The task of communicative brand management is to ensure that the use of many different communication instruments does not result in an inconsistent brand appearance, because this would lead to a weakening of the brand identity. Seen in this light, brand management is a necessary continuation of branding.
Another important success factor of brand management is the “Brand USP”. Branding should also definitely take into account a unique selling proposition (= USP). This means that the brand has a unique selling proposition that clearly distinguishes it from other competitors. While branding defines the brand identity, brand management ensures a consistent, authentic brand presence with the aim of creating and maintaining the right image with the customer.
Corporate identity, on the other hand, is understood to be the “unmistakable personality of the company” itself. Corporate identity is made up of three components: corporate behavior, corporate communication and corporate design. You can read more about these three components in detail in the blog post on “Corporate Branding”. Although a distinction can also be made between the two terms “brand identity” and “corporate identity”, it is nevertheless enormously important that a discrepancy never arises between the corporate identity and the brand identity. Otherwise, the brand would lose credibility and authenticity.
What does branding involve? What are the essential elements?
Branding can be described as a technique to give a product or a company a fixed name – a brand. After branding, an easily recognizable, distinctive value proposition should become clear to stakeholders. In order to become aware of the essential elements of a brand identity, it helps to have a look at a brand wheel.
Branding reflects on these five essential areas:
• What is my brand expertise? Who am I? What makes me stand out?
• What is my brand benefit or what are my brand advantages? What benefits – be them functional or psychosocial – do I offer my customers as a brand?
• What is my brand tonality? What feelings, experiences are associated with me?
• What are my brand attributes? What attributes is my brand associated with?
• And last but not least: With which brand image do I want to appear? What does my design or perhaps my corporate design look like? Which channels do I use for advertising? How do I present myself to the stakeholders? Do I present a consistent image everywhere?
Only when these questions have been answered and the brand competence has been developed and made concrete, only then can I really determine the identity of my brand, its brand identity. Because all these elements shape a brand as a whole. This is how it is communicated verbally and visually.
How does branding work? What is the process behind it?
The basis of a brand strategy is to first define the unique identity of a brand and then to implement all marketing actions of the marketing mix in terms of this brand identity. Accordingly, the procedure – in addition to the brand wheel described above – can be described as follows:
1. First define your brand identity?
• Who is your target group?
• Which needs or desires of the target group should be satisfied with your brand?
• What values does your brand stand for?
• What goals does it pursue?
• What image do you want to convey?
First of all, form a comprehensive understanding of your brand!
2. What sets you apart from your competitors?
• What is your USP (= Unique Selling Proposition)?
• What added value do you offer customers that they can’t get elsewhere?
• What sets you apart from the competition?
Important: Create your own, distinctive brand identity!
3. What is your mission?
• What do you do and why?
Communicate clearly who your company is, what your brand stands for and on which value basis you work!
4. Always appear consistent and authentic!
All communication tools or in general all actions should be consistent with your image and your brand – this is the only way to create trust with the customer and to build customer loyalty.
There is nothing against innovations, but they should always maintain the core message and identity of your brand!
Once these considerations have been made, the design of the brand can be created. This is often referred to as “visual branding”. The color, the shape, the font, the logo and all other brand-forming elements are determined. All of this comprises the brand identity. As can be easily seen, the creation of a brand identity takes place in a multidisciplinary way, i.e. all departments are involved in the process. However, the most important aspect of successful branding is continuity. This means that the brand identity must be maintained everywhere. A continuous, stable brand experience should be strived for with the customer.
What is the relationship between branding and marketing?
Branding concerns all marketing decisions in the marketing mix.
• Product policy: Brand policy is also a sub-area of product policy. Here, central branding decisions are made. Especially in product design as well as packing the marking shows up.
• Pricing policy: If you define your brand in such a way that your products are distinguished with a high value, this will certainly be reflected in a higher sales price.
• Communication policy: On the one hand, your communication methods must fit your brand, and on the other hand, they must also be geared to a consistent presentation of the brand across all communication channels.
• Distribution policy: Of course, this also involves decisions about where and how your branded product is available.
Why is branding so important? What does branding do?
Branding primarily pursues the goal of “getting stuck in the minds of customers.” Once you have established a strong brand, the price pressure on competitors also decreases. A brand that has increased in awareness and popularity opens up a price premium for you, i.e., you can achieve a higher price for the product. For example, a mark leads customers to make certain associations with the brand mark. Ideally, the customer will be satisfied with your branded product and also willing to make more frequent repeat purchases and also spend more money on the product.
What are the benefits of branding?
• It builds trust and customers interact with your brand more often.
• As a result of awareness, trust in the brand also increases. It makes it easier for you to attract new customers through a leap of faith.
• It strengthens customer relationships and leads to long-lasting customer loyalty.
• It creates brand loyalty and because of brand loyalty the customer prefers to buy from you. This is how you achieve increases in sales.
• You can gain a higher price for your product, see “price premium”.
• With your brand identity, you stand out from the anonymous competitors.
• A brand increases your recognition value.
• A brand is seen by the customer as a quality indicator. This in turn promotes sales and guarantees sales success.
• A strong brand can also have a motivating effect on (new) employees. They can identify with their brand.
• The value of a company also consists of the value of its brand(s). A brand therefore also has an ideal value and can increase the value of your company.
How does long-term branding succeed?
An important question in this context is: How does branding succeed in the long term? It all starts with a meaningful brand identity. The point is to position oneself with the uniqueness of a brand and then to present this authentically and coherently through successful brand management across all brand contact points. Beautifully paraphrased, this means: A brand is something like a person who remains true to himself over time. Subsequently, care must be taken to ensure that a good reputation is maintained. The brand should be associated with positive feelings and experiences. Committed employees “who burn for their brands” play a central role in this. The promising criteria of sustainable branding are always: the trustworthiness, authenticity and credibility of a brand.
What conclusion can be drawn about branding?
• Be clear about what your brand stands for. What exactly are the characteristics of your brand? What makes your brand personality distinctive? Convey these coherently in your brand name, logo, design, etc.
• Make sure your impression is positive and memorable. Maintain your brand image.
• Make sure your employees are also inspired and excited by your vision and mission. Your own employees are important brand ambassadors for your brand.