The success of your marketing campaign may often depend on factors extrinsic to your advertising and promotional efforts—like how well you’ve already established your brand name.
Obviously, the better your products are known before you buy Facebook ads and direct visitors to your landing page, the more likely people are to click on your ad and sign up for the offer on the landing page.
Similarly, the better your products are known before you rent a trade show booth where you give away promotional Gildan hoodies and sweatshirts to visitors, the more likely people are to proudly don your gifts when going out in public.
Branding, then, is something that you should focus on before you launch a marketing campaign. It will help you achieve better results.
What is Branding, Anyway?
Branding is a word that is often used but seldom understood. The concept itself is not complex, but it has often been used in so many inaccurate ways that it’s easy to think it’s merely creating name recognition of your company.
Branding is not just about names, logos, or slogans, nor is it about colors, designs, or symbols. While these are certainly identifying characteristics of a business, a brand is much more.
Apple computers, for example, are a well-known brand. This doesn’t merely mean that people are aware that they make computers. It also doesn’t merely mean that they recognize the half-bitten apple symbol. It means much more.
In fact, the brand is so powerful, so compelling that Apple users believe that their computers are superior to others on the market. They will say that the computer is more innovative, more aesthetic, and so on.
Apple’s brand is based on a promise. The company guarantees that they will create products based on their unique way of seeing the world. They promise their customers will be inspired to be more original.
This brand promise grew wings after Steve Job’s created a Think Different commercial in 1997. It talked about hoe maverick geniuses were crazy enough to change the world. It featured a pantheon of cultural heroes like Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, the Beatles, Thomas Edison, Muhammed Ali, Mahatma Gandhi, and many others. None of these people, of course, had anything to do with Apple or even computers for that matter, but that was beside the point.
After watching the commercial, the audience feels a sense of nostalgia, a desire to be innovative and exceptional. Although Apple does not directly say that their computers will spark genius-level thinking, you get the feeling that if you used their devices you would step out of the ordinary world.
So, a brand is a sentiment that is tied to a company. Often this sentiment is not overtly expressed, just implied. A branded company is one that has earned trust through association with a good feeling.
Almost all significant brands create emotional associations without actually stating them. Drinking Coca-Cola will not make you a happier person, nor will using an Apple computer make you a better graphic designer or writer, but you get the feeling that if you used these products a little magic might rub off on you.
Thus, branding is not about a name but about a promise. Although the promise will have some tangible elements, some of the promises are ineffable and border on the mystical.
How to Communicate a Brand
There is no particular marketing vehicle for building a brand and it can be done through any variety of ways.
You can deliver your branded message—expressed in words or images—with equal felicity online or offline.
Online you can express your branding image through social media advertising, online display advertising, and pay-per-click advertising.
Offline, you can make your promise through coupon programs, direct mail, collateral marketing, and newspaper advertising.
Often companies use a little of both to reach different audiences.
How to Build a Brand
Although there is no specific formula on how to build your brand name, how to find the right message for your audience, the following four steps will help you when brainstorming your brand’s identity.
First, identify your audience. Who will be using your product? Discover your target demographics and psychographics.
Second, notice what your competitors are doing to establish their brand. What overt or implied things are they saying about their products?
Third, choose the features that clearly differentiate your product from your competitors’ products.
Fourth, imbue your brand with personality. If your coffee company, for instance, were a person what kind of person would it be? Would it be male or female? Would it be strong or mellow? Would it be a suave or rebellious?
In conclusion, your brand will make a world of difference to how well people regard your product, and it takes a considerable amount of creative thinking to come up with a message that makes your product appealing to your target audience.