What is a brand and why should you care?
What comes to your mind first when you think of BMW? It is certainly a car. Who sits behind the wheel? An overweight lowly civil servant, or a successful man dressed in a smart suit, driving to see his beautiful wife?
Now imagine a man riding a Harley to meet his friends. Is it a traffic-jammed street in London or an empty highway with the sun setting? Who are his friends – fans of spending time at home playing board games or rather pub-goers eager for thrills?
Do you see where I am going with this? These well-known companies know exactly what branding and manipulating customer perceptions is. When you think of their products, very specific images pop into your head. Images with which many people (especially the target group defined by the company) want to identify. This is what a strong brand is characterized by.
In this article we will explain the strategic basis of marketing, what is a brand and image of the company, how through them to gain customer confidence and competitive advantage, and why contemporary marketing devotes so much attention to this issue.
Definition of brand – the brand is the image of the company built in the minds of customers.
Brand is the image of the company, although today it may be more accurate to say that it is the brand’s personality and the brand’s story. A brand is the additional value you offer to customers who choose your products. The value that ensures that when you sell a car or a watch, you are not just selling a tool to get from point A to point B quickly, or to measure time precisely.
You are selling something much more – a lifestyle, an opportunity to feel part of a club of which one can become a member only by becoming your customer. Something that buying competing products, even if they have identical or nearly identical features, will not deliver, no matter the selling price. That’s your brand promise.
A significant portion of the products you own can probably be purchased at a lower price without sacrificing quality, yet you still choose the more expensive ones. Die-hard fans are able to get into lengthy disputes about the superiority of their favorite brands over their competitors’ products, even if they offer products of very similar quality. I’m sure you know people like this, or perhaps you’ve had one of these discussions yourself.
This is the extraordinary power of branding, which corporations and increasingly smaller companies have long used to advertise their product ranges, thereby gaining a significant competitive advantage.
A brand is not your logo design
Brand is not a brand’s visual identity, brand equity, not a website and not a print on a T-shirt with the name of the company. They are parts of the brand identity and the brand experience, but they are only tools to achieve the goal, not the goal itself.
All communication elements, every point of contact between your company and the customer is a brand-building factor. Employee behavior, public relations, social media activity, the color scheme used, and all visual elements, at every turn, reinforce or detract from your brand image if misused. Successful brands, brand loyalty, customer loyalty and brand development, all require all the elements of successful branding.
Ultimately, however, a brand is not what you say about it or what you present in your advertising campaigns. A company’s brand is not the image you try to create, but the one that’s present in the minds of your audience.
The difference between what you say and what the customer hears
Brand building doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If you tell your audience that your brand is dedicated to people who value liberty, that in itself has little meaning. What matters is whether your audience believes in the image you create.
To build a brand, it is not enough to put a description on the “about our company” subpage that you would like your company to identify with. This process takes time and, above all, a coherent and well thought-out plan.
Communication that is inconsistent with the company image you want to create is like a crack in a glass. It only takes one for the entire plane of the mirror to become covered in scratches, or as in our example, break the whole marketing strategy.
Authenticity and consistency
Therefore, it is not enough to say a lot or dress up your words in pretty but empty images. What you want to convey must also be convincing and simply authentic. If you create an image of a company that cares about the environment, but in reality it is just a game of appearances, and your internal business model is an unrestrained exploitation of key natural resources – your brand image will sooner or later break, and once lost customer trust may never be regained.
What are the benefits of a strong and well-known brand?
To understand the benefits of having a strong brand, it is first necessary to understand how people make decisions.
Marketing, when mass communication and the first major companies were born, focused on talking about product features and qualities. After all, we are rational beings making logical decisions, right?
Not really. Companies quickly discovered that the path to winning customer favor and increasing sales leads less through the logical mind – and more through the heart and emotions.
The goal of a brand is to tap into the emotional realm of the customer. It’s hard to briefly describe all the benefits of having a strong brand – we’ll look at them in the next article.
The most important thing for you to understand is that in practice it is one of the most effective ways to stand out from the competition and gain market advantage, gain sympathy and trust of customers and raise the prices of your products. With a brand, your offer is much more than just products or services.
A well-known brand allows you to positively influence purchasing decisions and distinguish yourself from the competition. What exactly are the benefits of branding – check it out in this article.
Branding or creating a brand – what marketing activities should be undertaken to create a strong image?
If you want to run not only a company, but also a brand – you need to know that every element, even the smallest one, matters. A thank you card attached when you sell your products, or a 404 error page on your website that instead of a boring and technical message about the page not being found, can display an engaging or funny video made specifically for the situation.
How your employees are dressed, how they communicate with customers, or what smell is spreading in your store is important. All of these affect the emotions and senses, and even if we don’t register such factors consciously – they are stored in the subconscious.
There is no simple recipe, such as “good brand in 5 easy steps”. This is a process that requires a well thought-out strategy and its effective implementation. It is also a long-term process – a brand is not created in a month.
Brand strategy – the foundation of effective image building
A company that wants to build a strong corporate image that results in a recognizable brand that stands out among competitors should start by developing a brand strategy and brand personality. This is a detailed guideline defining brand, based among others on market research and consumer needs and expectations, which sets a clearly defined direction for building a company’s brand, allowing it to maintain its consistency and integrity.
It defines who is the target audience, the nature of the brand and what position it should take on the market to get to the heart of consumers, thus allowing you to match the offer and marketing communications of your brand specifically to the expectations of the target group and the situation on the market. It’s important to remember that a brand exists on the market, not in a vacuum.
Creating a company’s brand strategy and then taking care of its implementation can be done by a brand manager hired in the company, or an agency such as ours 😉.
Brand strategy is just the beginning of the process, the foundation for further actions. Further promotion of the brand and investment in advertising are long-term activities that should take place multichannel. It’s also important to remember that your branding should be consistent with your product and service offerings, and that high quality is the foundation of any marketing effort.
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In the meantime, you can take a look at Marty Neumeir’s website – one of the most respected specialists, from whom branding has no secrets. He has published many books on brand creation, which are a source of knowledge for us as well.