What is branding? Brand build 101 and a successful strategy

A brand is meant to invoke an emotion. Building and nurturing a brand is hard, but here are the components of a successful strategy.

By Navid Jafari  |   08 Nov, 2020  | 0
what is branding? brand build 101
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A brand is a distinct mark, name, identity, or design that uniquely identifies the offering(s) of one seller from all others. Branding is a significant element of marketing, and I often view building a brand as foundational to any marketing strategy or plan’s success.

A brand is meant to invoke an emotion in the target audience. Companies spend significant resources to associate their brand with certain positive emotions. Ultimately, buyers are persuaded to make decisions based on emotions, and therefore, the implantation and development of a brand cannot be overstated.

As marketers, we often focus on selling, but it is important to keep in mind that very few people (if any) are willing to buy something unless they know the seller. Brands can be built and ripened over time.

Selling and branding can be matured together so long as branding is not neglected or slighted.  As a marketing consultant, this has been a common conversation with business leaders who do not fully grasp the importance of building a brand.

Why build a brand?

Brands are meant to uniquely identify a product or service from a business. So, clearly, brands are first and foremost built for the target audience.  But brands are also developed for companies, their marketing teams, and the broader market.

Brands impact buying decisions; we are more likely to buy something familiar than something unfamiliar. Therefore, brand recognition is the foundation of what all branding and marketing professionals strive for.

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Without a brand, marketers would have a tough time telling a story because brands are the protagonist in a marketing story. Much like any protagonist, brands are meant to convey and invoke emotion.  Building a brand is hard work and requires planning and persistence.

Brand Build 101: The basic building blocks of a brand

So, how do we build a brand? Brands are built through the maturation and development of many important components. Brand positioning, messaging, identity, personality, offerings, tone, and perception are all part of the brand stack. Again, if you think of a brand as a person or character, then much like an individual, brands need characteristics that make them unique.

The most recognizable part of a brand is the brand mark or identity; however, it is important to highlight that brand identity is a small part of the overall picture. So much more is needed to make a brand relative, memorable, and desirable.

Let’s dive deeper into the composition of a brand.

Brand name and identity

Name and logo are parts of a brand’s identity that distinguish one offering or company from all others. A company’s brand is an intangible good that can be extremely valuable. Major brands in the world have plenty of valuable products and services, but they also add their brand valuation as part of their assets.

Brand value can be instrumental when launching new products or services. A classic example of this is Apple’s brand; in the early 2000s, Apple began with the iPod but quickly and successfully grew its offerings into other categories. Apple’s strong brand laid the groundwork for the iPad, iPhone, and many accessories that followed.

Brand identity can be viewed as the “hook” that everything else originates from. Therefore, making sure that the name and logo are suitable, purposeful, appropriate, and meaningful can save many headaches down the line. In other words, getting the brand name and identity right first is pivotal to long-term planning and success.

Brand Positioning, Messaging

Past brand identity comes the brand position and messaging, which describes its value and purpose.  The value and purpose of a brand are closely linked to mission and vision statements. They set the stage for who the company is, what it is trying to accomplish, how it plans to deliver on that promise, and why anyone should care.

Writing an effective brand positioning statement is challenging. It requires ongoing revisions based on the company’s direction. A brand statement isn’t meant to be written in stone. Instead, it meant to capture the essence of the company’s purpose as it stands presently.

Brand Personality

Much like a person, brands also have personalities. Adjectives that are often used to describe people, can also be used to describe brands. Thoughtful, exciting, and classy are examples of these types of traits.

When building a brand, one must be mindful of the type of personality that they want to exude in the brand. Colors, fonts, and names are examples of elements in brand identity pieces that can help solidify its personality.

A logo with bright and modern colors, for example, is likely to be viewed as exciting and fun. Likewise, a brand with darker colors and more traditional styling cues is likely to be viewed as serious and classic.

The point here is that not every brand is meant to be bright, bubbly, or serious. It is up to the brand manager to determine what direction to go, but keep in mind that without careful consideration of what colors, icons, and names mean, a brand may communicate the wrong personalities.

Brand Tone

Brands, just like people, have tones too. A cool and hip startup may have a more casual tone on its website, whereas a 100-year-old company with thousands of employees may have a more classic and formal tone on its website. The right approach is needed based on the company and its history.

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Attention to these details matter because they are part of marketing persuasion. A company doing serious work should, by all means, be methodical in its language and tone. This signals the gravity and seriousness of the type of work they do, which might play a pivotal part in whether a prospect feels like they should trust them with their (serious) need.

Similarly, a customer who is looking for a new pair of fashionable glasses is likely to be persuaded to buy from a brand that radiates coolness through its brand design and tone.

Brand Perception and Awareness

Emotions attached to a brand can be very powerful. Marketers work very hard to associate certain positive attributes and emotions with their brand. Characteristics such as high-quality, dependable, comfortable, trendy, and fashionable are examples of these decision-influencing adjectives.

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Brand awareness speaks to the familiarity of a target audience with the brand. On a hot day, you may think of a cold, fizzy drink, and thus you may think of your favorite brand of soda. Your inclination to think of that soda brand has likely come from persistent brand awareness campaigns in TV commercials, digital, and other communications modalities.

Brand awareness and perception impact purchase decisions greatly, but they certainly don’t come about cheaply, easily, or in a short period of time.

Brand Offerings

Brand offering refers to the product(s) or service(s) that a brand offers or sells in addition to all the brand perceptions. If you are purchasing a pair of shoes from a specific brand, then you are of course receiving (and paying for) the shoes along with the perceived values of the shoe such as comfort and trendiness.

What’s important to highlight here is that sometimes brands are directly associated with a specific product although they sell many other products, too. For example, your favorite national burger chain may have a brand that is immediately associated with burgers, but they sell many other products too (e.g., chicken sandwiches, vegetarian sandwiches).

The immediate product or service that is triggered in the mind of a prospect when they hear a brand’s name is sometimes referred to as “top of mind recall”. This instinctive and immediate association of a brand with a product is yet again a remarkably powerful branding tool.

A final thought

Building and nurturing a brand requires a multipronged approach. It takes time, resources, and plenty of marketing dollars, but I find the most important commodity is creativity. When building a brand, be creative first.

Building a brand is hard, but resourcefulness far exceeds resources.


Affiliate link disclosure: NeatCue receives compensation at no additional cost to you, if you use referral link(s) on this page to make a purchase.


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