Branding is "The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product" in the consumers' mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.
To understand branding, it is important to know what brands are. A brand is the idea or image of a specific product or service that consumers connect with, by identifying the name, logo, slogan, or design of the company who owns the idea or image. Branding is when that idea or image is marketed so that it is recognizable by more and more people, and identified with a certain service or product when there are many other companies offering the same service or product. Advertising professionals work on branding not only to build brand recognition, but also to build good reputations and a set of standards to which the company should strive to maintain or surpass. Branding is also a way to build an important company asset, which is a good reputation. Whether a company has no reputation, or a less than stellar reputation, branding can help change that. Branding can build an expectation about the company services or products, and can encourage the company to maintain that expectation, or exceed them, bringing better products and services to the market place.
Definitions of Branding
In their own words, here are some branding definitions from marketers and visionary leaders to help you understand what branding entails.
- Branding is the art of aligning what you want people to think about your company with what people actually do think about your company. And vice-versa. Jay Baer – Convince & Convert. Author with Amber Naslund of The Now Revolution
- Branding is more than a name and symbol. A brand is created and influenced by people, visuals, culture, style, perception, words, messages, PR, opinions, news media and especially social media. Like when a child is born and given a name, a brand needs nurturing, support, development and continuous care in order to thrive and grow. Some brands have a life cycle and grow old like people. Some brands are timeless and never die, are “born again” or reinvented, while some brands live a short but powerful life and have an iconic legacy. Lisa Buyer – The Buyer Group
- Branding is the encapsulation of a company’s mission statement, objectives, and corporate soul as expressed through the corporate voice and aesthetic. Margie Clayman
- Branding can be divided into old and new.
- Old Branding. Advertisers shouting carefully pedicured messages at consumers who don’t want to hear it.
- New Branding. Advertisers  humbly listening to what consumers tell others the brand is and back up with real action (like repeat purchases) and  incorporating appropriate innovations so their products continue to earn consumers’ loyalty and word of mouth. Dr. Augustine Fou – Marketing Science Consulting Group, Inc.
- Branding is an ongoing process of looking at your company’s past and present…and then creating a cohesive personality for the company and its products going forward. We do SWOT (Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis and go through all the benefits (real and emotional) that the product or service fulfills for its customers. We review the key factors that spurred growth, pricing, corporate culture, key players, and we figure out “who you are”, by key players, the president, customer service. Then we create the brand voice first. It’s a wonderful process. Lois Geller – Lois Geller Marketing Group
- Branding is the defined personality of a product, service, company, organization or individual. Many folks confuse “having a logo” for an ongoing branding process, but in fact a good logo is an extension of a defined identity for a venture in the same way that a flag or national anthem may represent a country. A well designed brand personality can be seen in everything from customer service to the actual products a company may offer. Another misconception about brands is that they should reflect a quality; and that may be true in a brand that’s about quality (think of a Chanel logo which communicates the idea of luxury) but on the other hand if a local dollar store even has a designed logo that may in fact work against the goals of their brand as they may seem overpriced. Like an artist finding his or her voice the goal of a branding process should be to always frame in a concise way what makes your endeavor unique; and then apply that message to each medium. Michael Pinto – Very Memorable Design
- Successful branding is what you do, not what you say or show. Successful branding requires your delivering consistently positive experiences for your constituents. It comes from keeping your promises to them, from earning their trust that your brand will do its best at every point of contact to deliver on what they want and expect from you. This trust leads to their choosing your brand again. Successful brands never take their constituents for granted. They never forget that most important to constituents are what’s in it for them, that constituents are distracted, and you must earn their attention. (Constituents include, depending on your product or service: customers, consumers, suppliers, employees, partners, allies, investors, funders, donors, analysts, critics, unions, regulators, the media, voters, etc.) The logo and theme line are not the brand. The logo symbolizes the brand. The theme line, if it’s any good, uniquely and memorably expresses the brand promise. (Most theme lines fail to do that.) Jim Siegel – HealthCare Chaplaincy
Types of Branding
A successful branding campaign results in a name, design, logo or other recognizable symbol that stands out among its competitors.
- Product: Products enjoy some of the most common types of branding. Walking through supermarket or retail store aisles is an easy way to understand product branding. Certain labels will jump off the shelves because they have achieved their marketing goals. Successful product branding is what nudges a consumer to choose one brand over another. The brand has established a reputation as the best or most popular in its class. Think of soft drinks, athletic shoes, computers or jeans and see what brand names pop into your head first. These are prime examples of product branding.
- Personal: Personal branding is a popular marketing tool among athletes, musicians, politicians and other celebrities. A politician will attempt to brand himself into the type of person the voters want to put in office. A celebrity often becomes self-branded based on his own personality, while others are molded by public relations firms and agents. In addition to a personal brand, a celebrity might become associated with products bearing his name.
- Corporate: Corporate branding is essential for any business that wants to develop a reputation in the marketplace. Everything the company does has an effect on its image. A corporation markets its product or service, its corporate culture, its employees and its contributions to the community. A corporation's branding can become tarnished overnight because of an industrial disaster or a poor decision by management. If the damage is severe, a corporation might start over with an entirely new strategy for branding a completely new image.
- Geographic: Geographic or regional branding conjures images of certain products or services when the name is mentioned. While the Southwest region of the U.S. might be known for spicy foods, the Midwest is known for steaks. The tourism industry uses branding to lure travelers to the area. Southern states boast their sunshine and beaches, while mountainous areas become known for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding.
- Cultural: Cultural branding develops a reputation about the environment and people of a particular location or nationality. New Englanders are thought to be hard-working, and perhaps too serious, while New Yorkers are viewed as people always on the go and moving at a rapid-fire pace. Cultural branding is another tool in tourism such as inviting travelers to experience the Amish country.
Scope of Branding
A brand is a perceptual entity that is rooted in reality but reflects the perceptions and perhaps even the idiosyncrasies of consumers. Ultimately a brand is something that resides in the minds of consumers.To successfully brand a product it is necessary to teach consumers:
- Who the product is.
- What the product does.
- Why consumers should choose that particular brand.
A branding strategy shall be considered successful only when the consumers have an answer to the above three questions which is strong enough to make them believe that there are significant differences in the products or services provided by a brand than others.
The concept of branding can be applied to:
- Physical Goods – e.g. Parle-G biscuits, Tata Tea, Maruti SX4 etc-
- Services – e.g. Indigo Airlines, ICICI Bank etc-
- Stores – e.g. Future Retail, Central, 99 Store, Amazon etc-
- Person – e.g. Sachin Tendulkar, Amitabh Bacchhan etc-
- Place – e.g. Gujrat Tourism, Incredible India etc-
- Organization – e.g. The Rolling Stones
- Idea – e.g abortion rights, free trade, or freedom of speech
Steps to Branding
The purpose of branding is to simply and easily help your customers understand what you offer and how you’re different. But it’s not only a USP (unique selling proposition), it is the combination of all the ways you communicate what you stand for. Branding is a complex process, mainly because its success or failure is determined by your customers’ reactions to the act of doing business with you. Here are some steps to take to shape public perception for the better:
- Identify what your customers love most about your business. What makes yours stand out? What are your strengths?
- Create a brand message that conveys what your business aims to do for its customers – what you’re best at. Geico promises to save you 15% in 15 minutes. That’s its brand promise. Marriott promises quiet luxury. What are you promising your customers? And are you delivering?
- Make sure your visual elements match your message, and your brand. If you’re promising innovation, don’t use greys and boring images.
- Develop standards for employee dress and behavior that support your brand promise. Make sure they understand what your brand is and can support it.
- Apply your visuals across every marketing tool you use, from advertising to signage to store displays to mailings to shopping bags.
Branding vs. Marketing
Branding should both precede and underlie any marketing effort. Branding is the expression of the essential truth or value of an organization, product, or service. It is communication of characteristics, values, and attributes that clarify what this particular brand is and is not.
- Branding is strategic. Marketing is tactical.
Marketing may contribute to a brand, but the brand is bigger than any particular marketing effort. The brand is what remains after the marketing has swept through the room. It’s what sticks in your mind associated with a product, service, or organization—whether or not, at that particular moment, you bought or did not buy. The brand is ultimately what determines if you will become a loyal customer or not. The marketing may convince you to buy a particular Toyota, and maybe it’s the first foreign car you ever owned, but it is the brand that will determine if you will only buy Toyotas for the rest of your life. The brand is built from many things. Very important among these things is the lived experience of the brand. Did that car deliver on its brand promise of reliability? Did the maker continue to uphold the quality standards that made them what they are? Did the sales guy or the service center mechanic know what they were talking about?
- Marketing unearths and activates buyers. Branding makes loyal customers, advocates, even evangelists, out of those who buy.
This works the same way for all types of businesses and organizations. All organizations must sell (including nonprofits). How they sell may differ, and everyone in an organization is, with their every action, either constructing or deconstructing the brand. Every thought, every action, every policy, every ad, every marketing promotion has the effect of either inspiring or deterring brand loyalty in whomever is exposed to it. All of this affects sales. Is marketing a cost center? Poorly researched and executed marketing activities can certainly be a cost center, but well-researched and well-executed marketing is an investment that pays for itself in sales and brand reinforcement. Is branding a cost center? On the surface, yes, but the return is loyalty. The return is sales people whose jobs are easier and more effective, employees who stay longer and work harder, customers who become ambassadors and advocates for the organization.
- Branding is as vital to the success of a business or nonprofit as having financial coherence, having a vision for the future, or having quality employees.
It is the essential foundation for a successful operation. So yes, it’s a cost center, like good employees, financial experts, and business or organizational innovators are. They are cost centers, but what is REALLY costly is not to have them, or to have substandard ones.
Benefits of Branding
Branding is the process of creating distinctive and durable perceptions in the minds of consumers. A brand is a persistent, unique business identity intertwined with associations of personality, quality, origin, liking and more. Although most people associate brands with big companies, the smallest of enterprises can use branding techniques with great rewards.
- Recognition and Loyalty: The main benefit of branding is that customers are much more likely to remember your business. A strong brand name and logo/image helps to keep your company image in the mind of your potential customers. If your business sells products that are often bought on impulse, a customer recognizing your brand could mean the difference between no-sale and a sale. Even if the customer was not aware that you sell a particular product, if they trust your brand, they are likely to trust you with unfamiliar products. If a customer is happy with your products or services, a brand helps to build customer loyalty across your business.
- Image of Size: A strong brand will project an image of a large and established business to your potential customers. People usually associate branding with larger businesses that have the money to spend on advertising and promotion. If you can create effective branding, then it can make your business appear to be much bigger than it really is. An image of size and establishment can be especially important when a customer wants reassurance that you will still be around in a few years time.
- Image of Quality: A strong brand projects an image of quality in your business, many people see the brand as a part of a product or service that helps to show its quality and value. It is commonly said that if you show a person two identical products, only one of which is branded; they will almost always believe the branded item is higher quality. If you can create effective branding, then over time the image of quality in your business will usually go up. Of course, branding cannot replace good quality, and bad publicity will damage a brand (and your businesses image), especially if it continues over a long period of time.
- Image of Experience and Reliability: A strong brand creates an image of an established business that has been around for long enough to become well known. A branded business is more likely to be seen as experienced in their products or services, and will generally be seen as more reliable and trustworthy than an unbranded business. Most people will believe that a business would be hesitant to put their brand name on something that was of poor quality.
- Multiple Products: If your business has a strong brand, it allows you to link together several different products or ranges. You can put your brand name on every product or service you sell, meaning that customers for one product will be more likely to buy another product from you.
Disadvantages of Branding
While the benefits of branding are many there are also some disadvantages that are associated with it
- High Costs: A primary drawback of branding is that it costs money to develop and promote a strong brand. Ideally, your investment provides ample return to justify the costs, but this is not guaranteed. As noted, companies that build strong brands do so over time through regular investments in advertising. Additionally, they invest in market research and product development to be able to offer high quality. These costs leave little room for error in buying, pricing and forecasting sales.
- Limited Flexibility: One necessary evil of thoroughly defining a company or product's brand is that it can limit your flexibility moving forward. Kleenex, for instance, has struggled in some of its attempts to develop and promote products beyond facial tissue. The company is so ingrained as a leader in that product category that it is difficult for customers to see the company as a marketer of anything else. Companies have been able to extend brands in some cases by emphasizing company strengths over product attachments.
- What is Branding? Business Dictionary
- Explaining Branding BrickMarketing
- Definitions of Branding Heidi Cohen
- What are the different types of Branding? Chron
- What is the Scope of Branding? Arpit Srivastav
- Steps to Branding Shopify
- Branding vs. Marketing Tronvig Group
- What are the Benefits of Branding? brandxpress
- Disadvantages of Branding AZ Central