What are the advantages of branding? In a globalised, competitive market like today’s business environment brand has become more important than ever.
But what is branding and what are the advantages?
Let’s take a closer look….
A World of Brands
You’ve probably grown up surrounded with gigantic brand names such as McDonald’s, Nike, Apple, IKEA, IBM, and many more. What differentiates those business entities from their competitors?
Some would answer that it’s the quality of their products. Others would say that it’s their customer service, or that they are just have been using their services or products for as long as they can remember.
So, what is it exactly that makes a brand successful? Or, in other words, what is a brand?
A brand isn’t a physical object, on the contrary, it’s an emotional connection and a history of memories between the consumer and the business. If we were to simplify the definition of a brand in one sentence, it would be: the entirety of the experience.
The experience entails a list of different touchpoints. A touchpoint is every single point of contact a customer has with the business. That includes all the details; from the moment a consumer hears about a brand to years of after-sales services.
Brand Identity VS Brand
Some of these touchpoints are physical objects, such as the product quality or the store’s interior design. Other touchpoints could be sensory such as the logo, colours, music, or feel of the brand.
On the other hand, most of the touchpoints with any brand are going to be emotional and intangible.
The intangible are things such as: mission, values, friendly user-experience, and most importantly, the promise. Some brand strategists describe the brand as a promise made by the company to its consumers. The company’s ability to fulfill that promise is what differentiates a strong brand.
Physical and sensory touchpoints are known as brand identity. The brand identity is a part of the brand. However, it’s not the entire brand.
It’s a common mistake that people believe the logo, design, or tagline to be “the brand”. This is only the brand identity, however, the brand itself is the entire experience the consumer associates with the brand. That’s why a brand is more than a logo
What is Branding?
Branding is a disciplined process used to build awareness and extend customer loyalty. It requires a mandate from the top and readiness to invest in the future. Branding is about taking every opportunity to express why people should choose one brand over another.
A desire to lead, outpace the competition, and give employees the best tools to reach customers are the reasons why companies leverage branding.
Requirements of Strong Branding
A brand is made up of a number of factors:
Firstly, a strong brand has a well-defined target market. Very often, when you ask business owners about who they target with their product, they would say “everyone”. This is a huge mistake.
It’s always easier to define who you’re trying to reach. In most cases, a product has preferred consumers; it speaks directly to their needs.
Even in the rare cases when a product is truly for everyone, the business should tailor its marketing efforts to suit all the different tastes under one brand. This is definitely not an easy task, but some companies succeed.
Research & Creativity
Research is key to each and every decision made in business. This is no different in branding. To create a powerful brand, you need a lot of research and creativity. Research allows you to understand the market, your competitors, and where you stand from both.
Without this knowledge, a brand won’t be able to position itself in the market.
On the other hand, creativity is crucial to differentiate your brand. Let’s face it, no matter what kind of product or service you offer, there are a lot of other options.
Therefore, you must give your potential buyers valid reasons to choose your brand.
Such reasons could be logical, emotional, or economical, but at the end of the day, creating a brand requires creativity and innovation.
Communication & Philosophy
Think of the huge brand names that have been market leaders for decades, what do you notice about them?
They commit themselves to a particular philosophy and tone. A strong brand has a clear philosophy represented in its values, mission, and vision. It must also have a clear message to deliver about itself through a tone of voice and persona.
Consistency is one requirement that should flow through all other ingredients. It’s the golden rule that every brand must follow across all its services.
If a brand offers optimum customer service once, then it’s a coincidence. But if it offers optimum customer service every single time, this is branding.
No matter what kind of activity your business is engaging in; advertising, customer service, quality of product, identity, design, events, values, the brand must always be memorable.
Advantages of Branding: What Are the Benefits of Branding?
Let’s consider the advantages of branding…
Advantages of Branding#1: Recognition & Brand Awareness
Having a strong brand gives space for global recognition. If you’re planning to grow your business further, this’ll be important to you.
Taking a look at the psychology of buying, one easily finds that humans always prefer what they already know. We naturally fear what we don’t.
That’s why branding will always continue to be successful.
Imagine yourself a tourist or you’ve just moved to a new place, and you’re craving a cup of coffee, wouldn’t you pick the well-recognised Starbucks lady sign over other brands that you don’t recognise?
Once you step into any Starbucks worldwide, you know what you’re going to find on the menu. You get the same feel, atmosphere, and taste. This feeling of “familiarity” is a reason for many to choose a brand they recognise.
The only to make a brand recognised is through maintaining consistency.
Advantages of Branding#2: Loyalty and Trust
If the key to recognition is consistency, then the key to loyalty and trust is all about consistent quality. Remember that one experience is never enough.
One experience is only good enough to make your customers come back again to your brand. However, if consumers come back to be disappointed, they won’t repeat it.
Loyalty comes from having a high-quality experience every time. That way, customers associate your business with comfort and seamless purchasing and services.
So, next time a competitor offers them the same product, they wouldn’t think of replacing your brand. Why would they bother with change when they are happy where they are?
Advantages of Branding#3: A Brand Says Who You Are
A brand has a personality, and therefore a voice, a face, and thoughts. The brand’s personality allows a business to connect with the consumers. It becomes less about “selling” a product or a service, and more about building a relationship with the customers.
The visual and tone of the brand indicate its size, quality, and level of professionalism.
For example, visual detail and aesthetic designs indicate class. In other words, a brand that gives attention to its visual identity means that it has a sense of style, accuracy, and the financial stability to afford these designs.
Meanwhile, the language and tone a brand speaks define its sense of professionalism and expresses the internal culture of the business. For instance, a bank must have a firm, comfortable tone to appear trustworthy.
The brand’s tone also indicates the size of the business.
On the other hand, a restaurant chain or a fashion brand may use a friendly tone, or even slang, to appeal to a specific segment of the audience.
The right communication will express your identity. That, will give room for reaching the right audience. Naturally, that increases your general sales revenue and establishes a good reputation for the business.
Advantages of Branding#4: Connect with the Customer
In addition, a brand allows for that personal connection. Without it, the process of buying and selling becomes too formal and materialistic with no emotional connection.
The emotional aspect of our human nature is too big to ignore. Consumers love to connect with brands. Therefore, nowadays most brands associate themselves with values and social responsibility.
This provides benefit to the brand, the consumer, and society.
Think of Nike, for instance, what does Nike’s “Just Do It” stand for? It’s all about doing your best performance. Therefore, Nike uses that to connect with the youth, especially those who dare to be, dare to play; it’s about being bold.
Nike uses that emotion and associates its brand with it. Brilliantly, this is also consistent with their values of encouraging diversity, supporting minorities and other social segments that society often hinders their progress.
Advantages of Branding#5: Scaling the Brand with Multiple Products
When customers put their trust in a certain brand, it’s highly likely that they will trust its new products.
Dove began as a brand solely known for its bars of soap. Later, it grew to become a superpower in the shampoo, deodorant and body wash markets. In the process of becoming a superpower, it went from a 200-million-dollar company to a multi-billion-dollar company with its aggressive expansion strategy.
That teaches you one lesson, your good reputation has a huge impact on your bottom-line revenue.
McDonald’s did the same thing when they went from being into fast food and fries, to the McCafe type restaurant that does coffee and bakery products. This would’ve been much difficult for a weaker brand deciding to do the same.
In many situations, it’s hard to launch new products that align with the existing perception of a brand. Therefore, some businesses choose to create an entirely new brand for the new product, which often costs a lot. Only a really strong brand can pull off this mission smoothly.
Back again to Dove, when they released their men + care products, it was a risky situation. They were targeting a completely different market than the one they usually deal with. Dove was essentially a brand for women, however, they managed to reach a completely different segment and spoke to their needs.
A strong brand allows you to scale your brand, and change direction or pivot when required.
Advantages of Branding#6: Premium Pricing for Higher Brand Equity
What Is Brand Equity?
Brand equity is a set of brand assets and liabilities linked to a brand name and symbol, which add to or subtract from the value provided by a product or service.
Aaker coined this term in the 1970’s and it has changed the way companies build their marketing strategies. Brand equity views the consumer as an active element in the equation of a brand’s value.
That obligates brand managers and marketing directors to deal with a brand as a living creature that needs continuous nurture in order to have a good reputation. One mistake could destroy the equity of a strong brand.
Therefore, businesses need to handle their brand equity with care.
Brand Equity VS Brand Value
Brand equity refers to the importance of a brand in the customer’s eyes. Meanwhile, brand value is the financial significance the brand carries. Both brand equity and brand value are educated estimates of how much a brand is worth.
They are similar, but they are not essentially identical. A brand’s value could be positive while the brand equity is negative. That means that this brand needs to improve its image and public perception.
The Brand’s Influence on Pricing
A good brand allows you to charge a premium price, even for the same products that competitors offer. Yet still, your brand devotees would still be willing to pay a higher price for them.
There are many examples of such cases. Apple is known for charging the highest prices in the market, Apple fans are willing to pay a higher price for an iPhone, even though competitors offer similar features for cheaper prices. This is the influence of powerful branding.
Starbucks also charges a slightly higher price for a cup of coffee compared to a local café. However, people are still willing to pay more for a Starbucks coffee in return for a unique experience and atmosphere, that’s the power of branding.
In addition, having a loyal fanbase of customers allows you to design premium programs and charge a higher fee with more benefits for those who use your service regularly.
Amazon has been using this technique efficiently with its Amazon Prime subscription. In April 2018, Amazon reported that Prime had more than 100 million subscribers worldwide. Isn’t that impressive?
Without a solid brand, none of these businesses would have been able to charge a premium price.
Advantages of Branding#7: Attracting Talent
The best people work for the best companies. No business can build a brand without a creative, hard-working staff.
The reason why those huge brands, such as Google, Apple, or P&G have the best creative innovations with which they dominate the market, is that they do hire the best talents out there.
Hiring the best employees is a challenge for small and mid-size companies. However, you don’t need to own a workspace like Google’s to attract the best hires.
Building a solid brand facilitates this task like magic. Think of Uber, who would’ve thought that one brand could attract so many employees in a short period of time? How did they do it?
They built a good reputation through trust, seamless experience, attractive package, and valuable marketing efforts.
Everyone wants to work for a reputable company that they can trust. A positive brand perception attracts applicants looking for a brand with a healthy culture, values, stability, and potential.
See Also: Why Is Personal Branding Important?
What Do You Need to Build a Brand?
Brand Identity Guidelines
Brand identity guidelines are the instructions that anyone working on your brand should follow. They relate to the design, logo, tone, language, colours, feel, and all the tiny physical details that relate to your brand. Those compile a huge part of how people perceive your brand.
You need to document these guidelines to achieve harmony between all the individuals working on your brand. Sometimes you’ll deal with an external advertising/branding agency, or the HR department will prepare for an internal event, they will need these guidelines to achieve consistency.
A brand expresses itself through its visual identity, therefore, you should always consider how your brand is presented to gain the advantages of branding.
A brand strategy is a document that encompasses exactly what your brand is about. It should include as much details as possible about the story behind your brand, the problems it solves, and the purpose it aims to reach.
It should also define who your target market is, your competitors, and everything that differentiates your brand. A successful brand strategy should be customercentric. Creating a premium customer experience is what builds strong and memorable brands.