As the old saying goes, you are known by the company you keep. The greater reality may be: the company you keep may keep your company afloat. Of course, this is a reference to branding. At its essence, branding is the act of distinguishing your products or services in such a way they will be recognized as distinctly belonging to you or having originated with you. Branding may sound like the latest thing, but it actually originated with the ancient Egyptians, who started it all by branding their cattle. That was a fairly simple process 5000 years ago. Today, however, with worldwide competition against digitally savvy, creative competitors, staking out a space for your brand is a complex, high-tech, high stakes endeavor that can make or break your business.
Understanding What Branding Is All About
To use a simple example of brand association, consider two clothing stores. One sells generic clothing. While there is nothing wrong with these soft goods, they are made by businesses that have never been advertised or promoted in any way. The second store carries “name brand” goods that have been well-marketed and are endorsed by celebrities. The store with the name brand goods is going to attract more customers. It can price its goods higher than the generic store. Overall, by associating with the sort of trustworthy brands your business should work with, your business will establish its own brand and set itself apart from all competitors. Proper investigation through organizations such as Peter Dodge Hanover Research, for instance, will go a long way to determining the best brands with which to associate your business.
Developing a Brand Strategy
Underlying the idea of branding is the notion that your company has to develop an intentional plan for what you want your brand to accomplish. This is called evolving a brand strategy. If your company does a good job in creating a brand strategy, it will go a long way toward propelling your firm in the direction you want it to proceed. A successful brand strategy, according to a recent insightful article in Forbes, can empower your organization and imply the future growth and direction of the company. Establishing this sort of correct, emphatic branding implies that you and your co-workers have a real understanding of the intent of the business and a willingness to do the necessary research to recognize and achieve ideal branding relationships.
Branding in Three Stages
Each firm is unique and the process of determining and developing a branding strategy, therefore, is different with every company. It is generally recognized, however, that there are three distinct stages required to achieve a workable branding stratagem:
- You must know who your customers are. This goes beyond anecdotal considerations. Knowing your market implies doing the research required to ascertain precisely what drives the consumers to whom you are reaching out.
- You must make your business distinct from your competitors. Part of knowing your customers and market is knowing the competition, their strengths and weaknesses.
- You must determine an image for your business that will convey who you are, what your business is about and why consumers should choose you. Clearly, this should include an attractive logo as well as a slogan and a statement of purpose that are appealing and inspiring.
Working Toward the Personalized Ideal Brand
As you consider all that is involved in successfully branding your business and linking it with the right collaborative ventures, it is worthwhile to consider some of the more successful personalized branding efforts of the recent past. Take for instance the Coca-Cola company’s use of individual names on soft drink containers. Customers found something amazingly appealing about a megabrand product with their own names printed on it. Another success story has to do with Cadbury’s 2012 Facebook campaign, in which the company algorithmically used the posted images of consumers to create videos and introduce new products. Branding that demonstrates the human side of your company is most effective.