Welcome to Branding 101!
When you hear the word, “Branding”, what do you think of? Most of us associate the term with what we’ve all seen in the old western movies – the marking of a cow with a fire-heated mark, establishing ownership of the animal.
Now, if I ask what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “Brand”, what do you think of? A giant apple? A red target? How about a swoosh? These are all popular logos, more specifically, their brand. A brand, as defined by the American Marketing Association dictionary, is a “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers”. A brand is a company’s face to the world. A brand is how the company is perceived by its customers — the associations and inherent value they place on your business. A brand is also a kind of promise, a set of fundamental principles as understood by anyone who comes into contact with a company. A brand can also describe these same attributes for a company’s products, services, and initiatives.
There was a time nearly 100 years ago when all it took to be successful in the business world was a product of good quality. If you made a good whiskey, people drank it. If your leather goods lasted longer and withstood more wear and tear, people bought it. If your product was superior to your competition, you were all set, it was easy street. Well into the 1970’s, a consumer could differentiate between a product of high quality and poor quality with little to no effort. Now here we are in the 21st century, where we live in the golden age of quality. It’s not often we find a kiddie pool that leaks, or a battery that isn’t charged…products are virtually indistinguishable. This is why having your own brand is so important and necessary to your products, services, and business.
But what goes into a brand? Some of the more basic elements include:
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- Letterhead and Data Sheets
But a brand can go as far as you want it to. Now let’s look at some other brand elements that think outside the box…
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- Tag-line or Catchphrase: “Just Do It!” is classic Nike trademarked slogan.
- Colors: Owens-Corning is the only brand of fiberglass insulation that can be pink…also commonly seen hand in hand with none other then the Pink Panther!
- Sounds: You know that loud, screaming, ear piercing noise you hear as a fire truck races by? That sound is trademarked to the Federal Signal Corporation’s Q2B Siren.
- Scents: Chanel No. 5 trademarked it’s rose/jasmine/musk scent.
- Tastes: Dr. Pepper has trademarked it’s unique combination of 21 flavors, and KFC trademarked it’s special combination of 11 herbs and spices for it’s fried chicken.
- Movements: Lamborghini trademarked the upward motion of its car doors.
- Spokesperson: Memorable characters, fictional or real – examples are Tony the Tiger and Toucan Sam are popular fictional Kellogg’s Cereal spokespeople, or by far the most popular spokesperson of all time – Mr. Whipple for Charmin toilet tissue, for nearly 20 years!
Associations like these are commonly known as Brand Awareness, or the customers’ ability to recall and recognize the brand under different conditions and link to the brand name, logo, jingles and so on to certain associations in memory. Having brand awareness is a critical aspect to the longevity and success of any brand. Why? Look at it this way…if you take the label off a bottle of Coca-Cola and a bottle of Generic X Super Cola Extreme – would you be able to tell the difference? Of course you would because of the unique shape of the Coca Cola bottle. Could you identify a Volkswagen Beetle on a quick glance? These are examples of brand awareness – and I’m sure you can understand why it is so crucial.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners alike often have two misconceptions about brand design: it’s either very simple or very complex. Those who think it is very easy think that it involves just designing a logo and slapping it on a letterhead. Those who believe it is a very complicated process think that it involves many deep, thoughtful, and time-consuming exercises, and that you have to hire over-priced consultants and designers.
In reality and honesty, it is somewhere in the happy medium. You will need a logo, and you do need to lay down some foundational pieces for your brand by figuring out your goals, vision, and mission – and envision your future brand even before you design that logo. The rest of the basic steps in creating a brand are based on these preparations and definitions.
In our next edition, we’ll show you how to successfully accomplish the 5 D’s of branding: define, design, develop, distinguish, and direct a brand that best represents your business model, and quickly and efficiently connects with your target audience.