Understanding The Branding Game

Branding terminology is a language unto itself. To get a feel for the complexities, just type “branding terms” into your favourite Internet search engine. We did that recently and got a whopping 12 million results! Assuming that you’d rather focus on key phrases instead of the full foreign language of branding, check out this need-to-know list of terms:

Brand: A promise about who you are and what benefits you deliver that gets reinforced every time people come in contact with any facet of you or your business

Brand identity: The marks that visually present you, usually in the form of a logo, symbol, or a unique type style

Brand image: The set of beliefs about what your company is and what it stands for that exists in the customer’s mind as a result of associations with you and your name

Branding: The process of building a positive collection of perceptions in your customer’s mind

Brand position: How your brand fits in with and relates to various others within your competitive market

Brand management: Controlling the presentation of your identity and message across your entire organization and through all media and communication outlets

Brand equity: The value of your identity as an asset, based on its qualities, reputation, and recognition as well as the commitment and demand it generates. A valuable brand results in customer relationships that secure future earnings by developing brand passion and loyalty.

Don’t get overwhelmed when you hear people talk about brand message, brand promise, brand mission, brand strategy, brand extension, brand revitalization, rebranding, and a mind-boggling array of other brand terms. Armed with an understanding of the terms, you can navigate branding conversations just fine.

Branding’s essential ingredient

Brands are built around four fundamentals: product differentiation, relevance, esteem, and knowledge. But the magic ingredient that converts those fundamentals into a branding success story is consistency. If you bring consistency to your branding program, you end up with a brand that stands head and shoulders above the others.

If you know what you stand for and project messages to your target market that constantly reinforce how your offering is different and relevant, you build knowledge and, eventually, esteem. As a result of your consistency, you win out over businesses that shift with the wind, regardless of how beautifully they’ve polished their identities or their marketing materials. In branding, consistency is more important than level of execution.

Too many companies develop award-winning logos and impressive brand launch materials only to have their brand images go sideways when the customer has an actual brand experience. False promises don’t work. Your brand must honestly express who you are and who you aspire to be every time the customer encounters you, your staff, your offices, your website, your customer service, your product, your marketing communications, your news coverage, and every other impression that you or others make on behalf of your brand.

To Brand or Not to Brand

That is the question. Well, that’s the question that hangs in the air until people hear this truth: If you can think of even one reason why customers should choose your offering over all the others, then you have at least one reason to brand it.

Whether you’re marketing a product, service business, large company or corporation, or even you, the same branding process applies and the same branding benefits accrue.