Suppose you are about to launch a new business or a new product. Let us say you want to launch with a strong brand. Or maybe you have been in business for a while, and like your house, you are about to do some touch-ups - maybe change the curtains, a little brand repair here and there, brand extension, rebranding.
Simply put, a trademark is used to declare something. In a sense, brands are promises you have made that your customers believe in. Hopefully. Later, we will define what brands and branding are in more detail, but for the sake of brevity, just remember these little words - a brand is a promise.
As we dive deeper into the world of branding, remember this:
A brand is built by creating trust in a unique promise about who you are, what you stand for, and what unique and meaningful goods or services you offer.
A brand is built by delivering on that promise every time people come into contact with your name, message or company. It does not matter in what way they come into contact with you, whether it's through advertising, publicity, word of mouth, the buying experience, customer service, invoices, returns or ongoing communication.
A brand becomes stronger when it continually reinforces that promise. If contact with your brand is less consistent or does not live up to what customers expected, you are essentially breaking your promise, breaking the brand, and risking your company's reputation. Brand building requires hard focus, strong passion, relentless persistence, and a whole lot more than due diligence. Building a brand takes time and money. On the other hand, it pays off, and pays off big, in that strong brands strengthen the business and the equity of their owners.
Perception is everything
Many mistake the logo with the brand, but in reality, the logo is just one of the many facets of a brand. Your brand is not what you look like or what you say or what you sell. Your brand is what people believe you stand for. Example:
Starbucks sells coffee. It stands for daily inspiration.
Apple sells phones. It stands for a different way of thinking.
Disney sells animated movies, amusement parks, and family entertainment. It stands for family values and making dreams come true.
Your brand does not live in an ad or on your website. It lives in the minds of consumers. Branding is the process of influencing consumers' beliefs and perceptions toward a more accurate representation of what you want your brand to accomplish.
Brands create trust and emotional bonds in consumers. In doing so, they foster relationships between consumers and products that withstand price wars and offers from new competitors, and help overcome rare lapses in product or service quality.
Great brands are not just known and trusted. They are loved. Next time you go for a walk, look at the logos you see around you. Every time you see one, try to think of that brand's main competitor. Then ask yourself, "What is the likelihood that a buyer of the competing brand would 'wear' this brand's logo with such pride?" Only brands that trigger deep emotional chords in customers find their way into hearts, minds, car windows, bastketballs, etc.
What are the benefits of a well-developed brand?
Brands make selling easier
Brands are great powerhouses because they make selling easier both in person and online. People prefer to buy from companies they know and can trust, and brands reinforce that promise.
Whether you are selling products, investment opportunities, job opportunities, or ideas directly, a brand opens the door to success by making people aware that you have made a unique and meaningful promise before you have even met your potential customer.
When consumers know your brand, they are aware of the positive qualities you stand for. And they do not forget the negative ones. Long before they are ready to make a purchase, they feel like they know who you are and the unique value they can expect from you. Then, when it comes time to sell, brand owners can focus on what consumers want and need instead of wasting valuable time explaining themselves and their unique attributes.
Without a brand, every time you want to close a deal, you have to make a case for why you deserve the customer's business. While brand owners close the deal, those who do not have strong brands still have to introduce themselves.
Imagine going out to buy a new phone and seeing one with a well-known logo.
Next, you'll probably talk to the salesperson about how much memory this model has, what operating system it runs, what software is included, whether it will support software updates in 3 years, etc. On the other hand, if you see a no-name model - even at a drastically lower price - you'll probably first try to build trust with the manufacturer, learn about the history of the device, and assess the quality.
In short - something that makes you want to build a relationship with that manufacturer. Selling a no-name item takes time and patience. At retail, it's a costly path to sales, and online, it's nearly impossible because there's no one there to provide explanations, build trust, overcome resistance, or break down barriers for your customers.
Brands are an added benefit
Brands with a wide reach and an established customer base have achieved this by offering some key benefits to their customers. It was these customer benefits that translated into higher sales, higher profit margins, and higher value. Consider these brand benefits as evidence:
Consumers are willing to pay more for brands they know because they believe brands provide a long-sought benefit.
Consumers remain loyal to brands and buy them more often, in greater quantities, and without the need for promotional incentives on the same scale.
Retailers offer brands greater visibility in their stores because they know that brands drive sales and lead to higher in-store conversions.
Brand owners do not have to introduce new offerings from scratch. They can grow their business by leveraging their brands for product and assortment extensions.
Most brand owners find it easier to attract and retain good employees because applicants believe in the quality of the job based on their prior knowledge of the caliber of the brand.
Brand owners operate more efficiently because they align all decisions with the mission, vision and values that underpin the brand promise.
Brand owners benefit from increased market share, greater investor support, and higher shareholder value.
Brands trump commodities
When it comes to marketing, you either have a unique brand or one that is like a million others. When it comes to writing a marketing success story, brands are undoubtedly the better choice because:
Brands are products defined and chosen by their unique differentiator. People buy brands because they identify with them and trust their attributes. Consumers are willing to invest extra time and money to maintain the brands they believe in.
Goods and services are easy to substitute and difficult to differentiate. Goods are purchased simply because they serve a purpose. Sugar, coffee, flour, and eggs are all commodities. Consumers buy them because they meet their needs and are available when and where they are needed, at the lowest possible price.
And here is something else to keep in mind: brands increase the chances of a company's survival.