For many business professionals, brand marketing is a skill that is
difficult to learn, much less master — sort of like the process of creating
a brand itself.
In the minds of many, a brand is simply a name or symbol
that is easily distinguishable, to help consumers identify
a product or service. That’s true, but for others a brand
is much more. It is what defines a company and comforts
our customers. It is the identity they recognize when they
don’t even realize it.
No one can tell you what your brand should include
or how it should be defined. But here you will find a
framework to help understand a brand’s importance to
the bottom line and how you can help your business
achieve greater mindshare among its most important audiences
by establishing a more formal brand identity.
Now is the Time for Branding
Despite the fact that lead generation and direct calls to action
garner most of a Web marketer’s attention and budgets
these days, it’s harmful in the both short and long term
to not to focus on the brand.
Based on marketing studies during recessions in the
20th century, some companies (and some of the best
brands) learned that cutting brand-oriented advertising
resulted in lower sales and profits. Even worse, performance
continued to lag when the eventual recovery came
around (“Why it is important to invest in communications
during an economic downturn,” IVCA.org, 2009).
For example, McGraw-Hill analyzed
600 companies from 1980 to
1985. The results showed that B2B
firms that maintained or increased
their advertising during the recession
of 1981-1982 averaged significantly
higher sales growth — both during
the recession and for three years following
— than those that eliminated
or decreased advertising. By 1985,
sales for companies that were aggressive
recession advertisers had risen
256 percent over companies that did
not maintain their advertising (“US
Recession”, McGraw-Hill, 1988).
Do You Believe In Branding?
You might think of brand marketers
as shysters in shiny suits speaking
of lofty and abstract concepts. In reality,
despite the obvious difficulty
in tracking brand effectiveness,
much thought and care is placed in
the development of brands. The
same will apply to your brand, even
it’s purely online.
The reason is that when a well-developed brand is supported by a
well-crafted advertising campaign, users are more likely to be convinced
to pay for products. Brands evoke trust and respectability, and
convey quality — enabling us to not only sell products (anybody can
do that), but sell on value.
Brand Equals Expectations
There is often a great deal of discussion among brand marketers about
developing and aligning the expectations behind the brand experience;
to create the impression that a brand associated with a product
or service has certain qualities or characteristics that make it special or
unique. That is an ideal; a gold standard in branding, if you will. Consider
the brand therefore in this perfect brand-friendly scenario as the
hinge upon which the success of an advertising campaigns swings.
Not only does it signify what the brand owner is able to offer but it instills
a sense of confidence among its prospective users about what
they should expect.
Creating a brand worthy of your products or services requires an
immense amount of sensitivity (and some research) as to what makes
it truly different. It is often the intangible — what we can’t see or accurately
express —that make businesses and their future brands so
unique and interesting to consumers.
Brand development is one of the most mentally challenging yet
fruitful exercises that a business can undertake. What we ultimately
need to do is consider what our company means to our consumers
now, and what we really want it to mean in the future. We’ll need
to engage in some good old-fashioned introspection (and be honest
while doing it) to be able to create an appropriate brand for the
company in question. That’s phase one. Phase two identifies the
package aligned with the brand.
Despite the billions of dollars spent each year on corporate and
product branding, there is little in the way of formal guidance. Make
these checklists act as but a starting point to a bolder brand, more confident
consumers and greater profits for your enterprise.
Get more specifics on the phases of creating and maintaining a brand.