Introduction to Branding
Branding is a part of marketing your product or service. Branding is a discipline in its own right, but can also be considered during the Product and to some extent Promotion stages of the Marketing Mix – the 4Ps of the marketing mix are Product, Place, Price and Promotion. See our Marketing Mix Page for further information.
Getting it Right
Getting a brand right can be the key to success. Many business professionals argue that a brand is essential, whilst others argue that if the market requires the product, the brand itself has less relevancy. Occasionally, team members may suggest brand names that are clever, well thought and choices that appear to be unquestionable selections for the product and market. This is a lucky situation however and most brand names require several meetings, consultation periods, market research and more. Brands need to be identifiable with a specific product, communicate what the product is, be instantly recognizable, be distinguished from others and be a word/image that is easily communicated throughout its desired market. One of the tests that we have used in the development of brands is to call people and describe a brand name. After doing this we call the individual again 24 hours later and ask them what the brand was and how they spell it. The larger the test group, the better the overall analysis can be. Cover different regional accents etc. If the spellings vary greatly, the brand name may not be useful for certain media. If nobody can remember the brand, it is not likely to be instantly recognizable in shops. If the brand communicates well, is remembered and all participants in the test spell it the same way, this may be a sign that the brand is at least communicable throughout your market. Ensure that words are not pronounced differently in multiple languages if you plan to sell internationally. Equally though, brands that are spelled unusually may have a benefit. Sometimes quirky spelling can engage your potential customer because they read and remember the unusual. Think about your market, what you want to do and what may be suitable.
Symbolic and Functional Branding
A brand should portray a whole message about your product. Think about the well-developed brands you know, the second you see the brand, you associate a whole range of values. Consider the automotive industry, what do you think when you see a large German car brand – often quality, reliability, prestige, business and an element of class status etc. What do you see when you see a sports car brand? This is usually, image, culture, heritage, style, lifestyle and performance. Equally, think about products in the home. Well known vacuum brands are often associated with functionality, power, carpet cleaning performance, technologies such as a bag-less system etc. This is very different to the thoughts associated of a sports car brand, which is symbolic in the main unless you are one of the few consumers who are choosing the brand for competitive use. Think about clothing also. Is a designer shirt going to do more than a similarly styled/constructed non-designer shirt in terms of function? Unlikely. However, many consumers insist on the label and style when socializing. Sportswear has a cross-over brand. Large sports manufactures have a symbolic appeal (especially when their brand ambassadors are involved) and are also considered functional sports goods. Large brands in the postage and shipping industry are viewed as functional by many. Brands may be selected because if the consumers opinion of the service standard and reliability (including delivery time scale, tracking, compensation levels and previous customer feedback). In this instance, a premium price may be charged. Technology brands have been very important during the last two decades. Consumers in some instances may place as much of a value on the logo on the back of their smartphone, smartwatch, earphones and other accessories as they do on the products performance and quality. Many large technology brands are of course very high quality, but a new competitor in the market with an equal or perhaps better quality would need an exceptional strategy to overcome the premium associated with the established technology brand.
Branding correctly takes time. There may be moments of inspiration within your team, where a great brand concept is formed, but testing and modification is usually required. Names, images and other media needs to be considered. Try not to overcomplicate a brand – an acronym that we sometimes refer to is KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid. People think more is better when often simplicity may allow a more efficiently communicated brand message.
This is a brief introduction to the world of branding. Please read our Branding Concepts for more insight into the fascinating world of brand development.
Many ideas here are our own and may not necessarily be suitable for application in your circumstances Read one of the many textbooks about branding and brand communications for further information.