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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn

Branding: what it is, and how to use it

Competition is fierce. Attention spans are fleeting.

How do you stand out in a world inundated with products and services vying for consumer attention?

A catchy tagline? An ad controversial enough to get press coverage? An influencer piece you try to force "viral"?

Unfortunately these are only likely to get you short term attention. To stay in people's minds beyond the end of the ad break or past the next scroll, you need a long term approach.

You need branding.

Defining branding: It's not (just) a logo

Think of someone you love, or someone you really don't like. Think about them carefully. What do they look like? Sound like? What kind of words do they use? How do they behave?

Think about them in the most holistic way you can. All of those pieces come together to create their identity. You might love (or hate) bits more than others, but they are all together the sum of all of those parts.

A close up of a woman with her face propped up on her chin. Her eyes are closed and she is deep in thought. One half of her face is lit with green light and the other half a warmer red.

Think about how a company makes you feel

This is very much like branding. Some people are now even considering how they represent themselves in professional contexts their "personal brand".

Translate that to a business context and, at its core, branding can be defined as creating a distinct personality for a product, service, or company. It encompasses the sum total of perceptions, emotions, and experiences associated with a particular company (or in some cases, a product).

Branding is not confined to visual elements such as logos, colours, or designs. This is a very common mistake, not helped by some of the language shortcuts people use. How the company looks is part of the brand, just like the clothes someone wears are part of their personality. But it's only one piece. Branding encompasses the holistic experience a customer has with a company or product, while a logo is a visual symbol that triggers brand recognition.

Branding extends to includes the words chosen, the languages, accents or music used, the people included in advertising or as spokespeople. Branding crosses all the senses (think about how Subway or Lush smell! Totally distinctive right?). And increasingly importantly for many consumers today, branding even encompasses the company's values, culture, mission, and the way it interacts with its audience.

Key branding terms

With so much potential for confusion, it's helpful to define some key branding terminology.

  • Rebranding: Rebranding refers to the strategic process of overhauling a brand's identity, which can involve changes in visual elements, messaging, and even core values. Rebranding can be prompted by shifts in consumer preferences, changes in the competitive landscape, or the desire to reflect a new strategic direction. Successful rebranding requires a delicate balance between preserving existing brand equity and introducing innovative elements

  • Brand identity: While the terms "brand" and "brand identity" are often used interchangeably, they possess distinct meanings. A brand encompasses the perception consumers have of a company based on many factors. It's intangible. A brand identity is the tangible elements that visually represent the brand – logos, color schemes, typography, and design elements

  • Brand awareness: this refers to the extent to which a brand is recognized by its target audience. Raising brand awareness involves a multifaceted marketing approach that includes consistent marketing efforts, engaging content creation, and strategic use of various communication channels

  • Brand management: a good analogy for this is that it is like steering a ship through turbulent waters! It involves nurturing and safeguarding the brand's reputation, ensuring that the brand consistently delivers on its promises and maintains its relevance. Brand management encompasses a range of activities, including monitoring consumer sentiment, overseeing brand messaging, conducting market research, and making informed decisions to align the brand with evolving trends and consumer expectations.

The Significance of Branding

Branding is about crafting a narrative that resonates deeply with audiences, forging a connection that goes beyond just one transaction and instead creates repeat buyers and advocates.

It isn't a nice to have any more. It's a strategic imperative. Done well, branding:

  • provides differentiation in a crowded marketplace

  • guides consumers towards a choice that aligns with their preferences and values

  • engenders trust and credibility

  • builds loyalty.

Branding goes beyond the logo or tagline. It encompasses a multitude of elements that, when consumed together, shape the perception of a business in the minds of consumers. It doesn't exist in a vacuum. It provides the foundation upon which marketing strategies are built. It shapes the messaging, tone, and overall identity that marketing campaigns convey. And it's crucially important for businesses of all sizes.

If you're not sure how to use branding to boost your business performance, I can help. I design messaging, positioning, branding and marketing approaches which help businesses achieve their objectives and help business owners feel excited not stressed.

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