Branding – what is it and how does it work?

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Branding is one of those areas that everyone thinks they kind of know what is or what it means, but ask 100 different people, you’ll get 100 different answers.

This short article is not THE definitive guide, but for any business out there, large or small, this might just clear some fog and hopefully offer some direction for you.

So what is Branding?

Branding goes beyond the colour of the packaging or the new logo. It’s more about how your brand makes people “feel” . What is the first thing that you think of when you hear the brand name?…..That’s branding. Everything else stems from there.

Feel = Emotion. Emotion = Decision to buy

Buying decisions are based on emotion more often than pure need, but people justify their emotional decision with facts they know (or are told) about the brand.

How you achieve your branding is all about how the experience users of your brand have when they buy it or use it for the first time. It’s also about how good you (i.e. your brand) are at customer care in your particular marketplace.

If you are adding value to people’s lives with your brand, or providing a genuinely new and innovative experience for people, then it could very well sell itself. Get the emotions right and everything else will follow.

Connecting with your customers by being different

If you just offer a “me – too” product because there are established players in that market place, the chances are that your brand will not really appeal. After all, what do your brand stand for? How is it unique if it’s just another brand?

If you take your brand and place it in the market place in a different way to the others, then you stand a much better chance of success than by just cloning another brands ideas and marketing.

An example is LoveFilm.com. They took the idea of film rental (NOT a new idea!) which is a crowded marketplace with all the high street rental places & chains like Blockbuster and changed the rules. In so doing their concept that gave them brand appeal with consumers. The method of delivery (either DVD via post or online viewing) of the same film viewing experience was what made them stand out from the existing operators in that sector.

So that was their added value or unique angle on film rental. They also have a great name!

Selling on added value

Brand advertising will be something that you have to look at with any brand. You need to let people know you are there. In order to maximise your chances of success with the launch of a new brand you should (ideally) offer outstanding value in the market place compared to your competitors. What “value” actually means will vary with what you are selling. You shouldn’t lose money on a product unless there is a very good reason for it. So value doesn’t necessarily equate to price, you can add extra value with service or bundles of items, also with guarantees – both upfront as risk reversal guarantees, but also with warranty or maintenance guarantees or service level agreements.

Selling on consistency

Take Mc Donalds. They sell their “branded” food worldwide and the thing they do really well is meet your expectations. You do NOT expect a 5 star service, you do NOT expect 5 star prices – what you get is the same food as the last time you went into Mc Donalds – even if it was in a different country. Quantities may vary from country to country, but the actual food doesn’t.

They meet your expectations every time and their food (however you look at it) is perfect to meet those expectations.

Brand Personality

Your brand will bear your corporate personality and it does this even if you don’t think it does. Many people just do nothing to present their brand with its own identity which is why their brand goes unseen. If you don’t care or you don’t stamp your brand with a life of its own, you won’t stand out from the crowd.

Look at comparethemarket.com. They have managed to invent an entire personality for a Russian meerkat who runs an imaginary company and they even set up a place called Meerkovo where they all live. They have managed to make a rather dull task like getting a quote for car insurance into something fun by using their brand and actually giving it substance. It has a life – you can see the business owner and his employees. Their brand is funny and you will probably remember it next time you go on line for insurance.

Having a brand personality means that you start to give people a feeling or some attachment of a feeling to your brand. Meerkats optional.

Branding is everything you do!

If you are interacting with your customers or potential customers at any level – that could be an advert, a website design, a newspaper ad, the way you or your team answer the phone – it’s all part of your branding.

If you are inconsistent in the way you do things, that will become associated with your brand. The reverse is also true. Look at a company like Virgin. Pretty much everything they seem to do has the Branson touch or a certain “feel good factor” associated with it. Not to say that others don’t have great service, or that everything Virgin do is done perfectly but they are masters at doing ordinary things better than many others. You now trust the Virgin name so when they open a bank, you will be quite happy to start an account with them instead an established high street name – especially if they meet and exceed your expectations (as I suspect they might!).

So look critically at your own company and see what you think your brand is saying to your customers. Also is your vision being implemented by your staff like Richard Branson’s?

Brand experience

Going the extra mile for customers (great customer service) can be part of what customers associate with your brand. By offering truly outstanding service to everyone as standard consistently will set your brand apart. Best of all you don’t have to crow about it because satisfied customers are your best brand ambassadors. You literally cannot buy  that sort of brand support.

How customers are treated in the real world is down to the people in charge of the company. Employees will be employees! So in order to get the brand experience right for your customers, the leaders/managers/implementors in the company have to make sure the brand “feeling” is transmitted, understood AND carried out by the management team of the company.

That is  just as applicable for a one person business as it is to a multi national company. Only the way it is implemented will vary.

Have a clear vision of your brand and what it stands for and make sure that the entire workforce buys into that vision.

Branding is your copyright

That means that if a competitor wants to take your products or services, copy them, copy your packaging, your website layout and content and your marketing materials they can. But the ONE thing that nobody else in the world can replicate is YOU.

So it is only you who can make your branding represent your own personal values and send your business philosophy out to the world.  There was a marketing message that fits perfectly here which is often copied, never equalled. make that your philosphy and you won’t go far wrong.

Just so you are left in no doubt – don’t copy other people’s branding because you’ll probably end up in court!

Branding can never be copied if it truly represents the vision of the owner and is carried out by every company employee. There are countless examples that fit this bill so brand building is always a good idea. It builds a unique identity, reassures people and at the same time builds loyalty in the marketplace, build trust and offers you protection that a mere legal framework cannot.

If you would like a discussion on building your brand, call Dzined now on 01992 350066 or email sales@dzined.uk

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