The power of brand

  1. Browsing brands in a supermarket
    iStock/97
    Melissa Tredinnick

    Melissa Tredinnick UKBF Newcomer Administrator

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    For those who aren’t familiar with it, branding can seem an inaccessible territory, filled with jargon, and reserved for the likes of Coca-Cola and Apple. But there are benefits for small businesses, too, if you’re willing to invest just a little time and thought.

    Unfortunately, anyone in search of a quick and straightforward definition of branding, or a brand, is likely to be disappointed. Look to the opinions of branding experts and business owners, and you’ll find various different perspectives on what a brand is and why it matters.

    Author and dotcom-boom entrepreneur Seth Godin defines a brand as “the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer's decision to choose one product or service over another”, while British advertising legend David Oglivy called it “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes”.

    More simply, and rather elegantly, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says it’s “what other people say about you when you're not in the room”.

    What most of these definitions have in common is that they go beyond a logo or a slogan, into the conceptual side of how an organisation looks and feels.

    Understanding brands

    If this way of talking about branding sounds a little too fluffy for you, a good starting point is to think about it from a consumer's perspective.

    Reflect on your own shopping habits, and think about the products you own or would like to own. How do these make you feel?

    It could be that you like the style of one item, or you trust the quality of another.

    Maybe you keep coming back to your favourite cafe because it makes you feel relaxed and welcome, or you buy new clothes from a shop that projects a high-end, professional image.

    Perhaps you’re a Marmite lover, a loyal customer of McDonalds over Burger King, or a firm believer that “it has to be Heinz”.

    In all of these examples, your decision to purchase a product is at least to some extent influenced by the feelings and associations you have towards it, as distinct to the objective qualities of the products or services themselves.

    This doesn’t just apply to the most famous companies: from the smallest, independent business to the largest corporation, every organisation has a brand.

    And crucially, that brand exists whether it is cultivated or not. How powerful it is, and how well it reflects what that business wants to project, depends on the work that has gone into its development.

    How branding helps

    A successful brand helps your business stand out among its competitors and creates loyalty, and the benefits of that are obvious.

    The brands you like, the ones that make you feel like part of a community or match up to your personal values, are the ones you’ll return to time and time again.

    Mark Jones, lead designer at a Bristol-based marketing agency, put it this way:

    “In today’s fast-paced market where decisions are made in a second, branding can be the difference between making new customers and losing them.

    “Good branding brings people in and keeps people there. Simply, branding is a promise. It can communicate personality, product, quality and maybe even price.”

    That’s not to say a good brand will connect with everyone. Not all brands you encounter will resonate with you, some might even irritate or alienate you.

    Instead, branding allows you to connect with the right people – those you most want to reach.

    For example, the renewable energy company Bulb distinguishes itself from the bigger players in the industry with branding targeted specifically towards millennials.

    It’s all based around the phrase ‘positive energy’, which is further expressed through bright, engaging visuals that break away from the traditional appearance of energy companies.

    These wouldn’t appeal to every customer, and might even drive some away, but that’s beside the point. Defining itself in this way has helped Bulb to grow rapidly, gaining more than 850,000 sign-ups since it was founded in 2015.

    Where to start

    If you do nothing else, it’s important to spend time thinking about and defining your brand values. This part should come before any of the more tangible design decisions, such as logos or colours.

    There are plenty of exercises you can use to figure out the principles of your brand and put it into words, but one useful place to start is with a core idea: why are you here? This approach was popularised by marketing guru Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why (2009), which was accompanied by one of the most famous of all TED Talks.

    If you’re rebranding an existing business, you might want to begin by considering what you already do, how that’s different from what your competitors offer, and what gets you fired up about your work. This can help refocus your energy on the things that are really important.

    Or, if you’re defining a new brand from scratch, you could use your ‘why’ as a starting point for the rest of your brand strategy. It should probably be a statement that could follow on from ‘Because we believe that…’ It might be, for example, ‘Everyone should be able to afford healthy food’, or ‘Feeling fashionable shouldn’t just be for skinny people’, or ‘Car rental should be the start of an adventure, not about filling in forms’.

    Once you’ve got that crystal clear definition of what your brand is really about, keep coming back to it as you work out how your business ought to communicate, both visually and verbally. Does that colour suggest ‘health’? Does that font support or undercut the idea of ‘luxury’? Does the imagery you've chosen suggest ‘fun’? And so on.

    This is all something you could do yourself, or you can invest in the expertise of branding professionals. Either way, what you get from it will ultimately depend on what you put in, especially in terms of self-reflection.

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  2. HomeWrking

    HomeWrking UKBF Contributor Free Member

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    Thanks for sharing this - the art of clearly communicating your message is one that often eludes so the pointers are helpful
     
    Posted: Mar 11, 2019 By: HomeWrking Member since: Mar 9, 2019
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