Effective branding, along with copywriting, is crucial to your company’s success. No other marketing activity delivers such significant return on investment. Why? People learn to trust and rely on your company without you making any addition effort. After all, where would you rather buy a book—JoesBooks.com or Amazon.com?
What is branding (and why is it important?)
What is branding?
“Name, term, sign or design, or a combination of them intended to identify goods and services of one seller or a group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.”
— Definition of branding from the American Marketing Association
You might be scratching your head after reading the branding definition above. The reality is that branding has as many definitions as companies employing it. But there are some underlying basics you need to know.
- You must have ONE clear and consistent message/story about what you do.When you think of Apple or Nike what comes to mind? Both companies sell a variety of disparate products, yet the products and the companies have the same brand image.
- You must know what you offer your customers.Take the American auto market. Cars basically all do the same thing, yet there is a huge difference between what Porsche offers its customers and what Hyundai or Volvo does.
- You must know what makes you unique.Even if you sell a “me, too” product (like blue jeans) there is something that you do differently than anyone else. Otherwise, there is no reason for you to be in business.
When you can articulate the above facts about your company everyone including your employees, your vendors and your customers will know what you stand for and how to talk about your offerings. And that translates to strong word-out-mouth advertising, the most powerful tool your company can have especially when it comes to social media.
What’s the best approach to branding?
Like copywriting, it’s strongly recommended that you get an outside source to help you with your brand. Why?
- It’s very easy to get “tunnel vision” when it comes to your own company and not realize what your brand is really about.
- Sometimes your brand is something you wouldn’t even guess it is! Take McDonald’s. You’d think their brand is about food. Well, it really isn’t. It’s about delivering a clean and consistent “happy” environment for people to go. If you get off an exit in a town you’ve never been to where are you most likely going to eat—a McDonald’s or a placed called Jane’s Local Grub?
- Your customers may have a totally different vision of your brand than you do. And since they are paying, they are (usually) right. As you may remember, Coca Cola learned this hard and ultimately very expensive lesson when they introduced New Coke. Customers were so upset with the change that a psychiatrist hired by Coca Cola said some of those complaining sounded like they were describing the death of a family member.
As a brand strategist I can help empower you to find your brand and make the most of it in every aspect of your marketing operations. My firm belief is that branding should be simple and effortless, literally like breathing. You should be able to effectively talk about your brand the same way you talk about your children or the vacation you just took. Really!