What is branding?
Branding is no longer just a combination of the visual aspects of a brand. The importance of elements like an organisation’s name, slogan, symbol or design when looked at individually, pales in comparison to the importance of how a company seems and feels to consumers when they are used in combination.
In other words, branding is now a marketing practice that, through the coordination of all the facets of an organisation, aims to shape a brand in a way consumers can have a distinct image of who they are.
Why is branding important?
Most people know that consumers are no longer just looking for value in a business’s product or service. To compete in a market saturated with choice, brands must communicate to consumers not only what they do but, who they are, why they do it and with growing environmental concerns how.
Brands act as an extension of consumers
You might have heard the phrase that consumers now use brands to now act as an extension of themselves. What this means is people are increasingly treating themselves as a brand of their own; consumers are now looking for brands they feel they can identify with and can use to communicate something about themselves to others.
In other words, consumers are not only choosing brands whose values align with theirs but wanting to be able to express these values to the outside world. So, it’s more important than ever that brands constantly remind themselves of their values and ensure they are being clearly communicated to consumers for them to use in their own self-expression.
Branding guides purpose and efficiency
When an organisation clearly understands the purpose of its key business objectives, then a brand can act as a guide helping a business maintain an appropriate amount of focus on things necessary to reach its goals. To ensure there is consistency within and, efficient achievement of your business objectives your brand should also be used as a continued point of reference in the creation and execution of your strategic marketing plan. This distinct benchmark that branding should be used to set is why its correctness is important.
Branding creates customer and employee loyalty
If your product or service meets or exceeds the expectations of a consumer, then good, clear branding can lead to long term sales and customer loyalty. But, similar to how a consumer likes to invest their money into a brand they believe in and stand behind, employees are often found to be more productive and confident in the time they invest in a business when they understand what they are a part of.
Why should you evaluate your brand?
Everything around us is always in a constant state of evolution, including society, the economy and business. Hence, like everything else, this state of rapid change creates the need for organisations to continually evolve in order to stay relevant, innovative, and strong against their competitors. Even industry leaders rethink their brand: Apple, for example, has rebranded itself three times, Starbucks has done it four, and Pepsi has rebranded itself 11 times.
Rebranding does not have to mean a complete change
Sometimes there are only tweaks that need to be made to a brand to ensure a business is achieving its goals and maximising potential. But a need for only minor changes does not mean that assessing and refreshing your brand will not make a massive difference.
It can protect you from future threats and promote future opportunity
Business owners must not fall into the trap of thinking that rebranding is only a bandaid for already occurring performance issues. Brand evaluation can act as a ‘proactive’ solution for businesses who want to expand, take advantage of future opportunities and, pre-emptively protect themselves from new market challenges.
For example, even if it’s not obvious at first, other notable brands often refresh their brand to clarify their values and ensure they are continuing to express them clearly to the outside world. Brands that often refresh their image include McDonald’s, Harley-Davidson and Target.
Clearly, branding is important. But the question is, how clear is your branding?