Branding is something marketers constantly scream at business owners. It’s what pretentious marketers talk about at conferences over drinks. Yet for all this talk about branding, so many people fail to understand what it is or how they can utilize branding for their company.
If you’re a company constantly staying ahead of the curve, you know you have to concentrate on branding. It needs to figure in every decision you make.
We explore what branding is and why it’s so much more than a mere logo.
Image credit: daveharkins
What is Branding?
First of all, let’s clear up some of the confusion regarding branding. A brand is not a marketing campaign. It’s not a logo. It’s not a slogan. A brand is a business. When people talk about a brand, they talk about the business. They talk about the “Apple brand” or the “Print-Print brand”.
They’re using the company name. Inadvertently, they’re demonstrating exactly what a brand is. Your brand is simply what you broadcast to the general public. It encompasses your products and the way you interact with consumers.
It wouldn’t be wrong to define a marketing plan as a branding plan.
The Role of the Logo
The logo has gained an ill-deserved reputation as the heart of a brand because it’s what people initially see. Businesses tend to use the logo for everything from their products to their digital advertisements. And whilst logo designs and placement are important, this doesn’t make a brand.
We should see the logo as a visual representation of the brand. It isn’t the brand itself. And this is the sort of mind-set you need to get away from.
Products vs. Services
As we’ve already established, a brand is partly established by the way you interact with your customers. This differs depending on the type of business, however.
A product-based business is simply a company that sells items to make its money. It could include clothes, silverware, or food items. In this case, the brand would be defined by the delivery of the products and the quality of the products. Whilst customer service is still important, the amount of time the consumer and company are interacting with each other isn’t a major factor.
A service-based business is in constant contact with its customers. It’s offering a service delivered by a skilled contractor. And this requires impeccable customer service. The quality of the service must be high, but aspects like fast postage never become a factor.
We can see how the way you define your brand differs based on the sort of business you are. As you can see, this illustrates a business is so much more than a brand.
What Customers Care About
Read through any number of guides on marketing in 2014, but the principles of improving a brand image never changes.
The quality of a brand is ultimately defined by its profits. Its profits are defined by how well customers respond to it. Everything links back to the humble consumer. And this is the same for any company of any size in any industry.
You need to understand what customers care about. What customers don’t care about is your logo. This is a novelty used to grab their attention. If you lack substance in your products or services, customers will discover it straight away. And this will leave you in serious trouble later on.
Concentrate on substance. If a company fulfils the wants of a customer, their brand will win through in the end.
The success of a brand depends on placement. A logo can’t cover this. You have to target the right audience and attract this audience using your logo. The logo is a tool. It doesn’t offer any direction or differentiation.
There are only so many ways you can make a logo target a certain audience by itself, and it still leaves a lot of ambiguity. Like with your products, put your logo in the correct places. Develop a marketing plan that targets a specific niche.
No successful company has attempted to target everyone. Samsung, Sony, and Nestle are three of the most recognisable brands in the world. They target certain niches and do their jobs well within these niches.
It just goes to show how a logo can only become recognizable when a company does everything else right. Learn from this and understand what’s important in building a b2b brand in the business world of today.