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What Is a Brand and Why Is Branding Important?

WHAT IS BRANDING
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It’s a question that everyone has but is hard to understand.

What is a brand, and why is it so important?

In this post; we will clarify the concept of branding by exploring the following questions and topics:

+ What is a brand?

+ What is branding?

+ What value does a brand offer in your business?

+ What are the elements of a solid brand?

+ Visual Identity

+ Verbal Identity

+ Why should you invest in branding?

What is a brand? 

A brand is more than just a logo or fancy name; it is the foundation and spirit of your business, it contributes to the emotion and recognizable feelings that brand assets induce. A brand is the way your product, services are perceived by the people who come into contact with it.

Apple, for example, is one of the most valued brands in the world. Apple’s distinct branding approach has always been built on emotion, a foresight attributed to the brilliant Steve Jobs and, since the company’s establishment in 1976, Apple has placed a great focus on creating a committed fan base.

 

What is branding?

The American Marketing Association defines a brand to be; “a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s goods or service as distinct from those of other sellers’’.

Branding is the act of shaping how a company or organization is perceived in the eyes of the consumer. Customers don’t purchase iPhones based on their perceptions alone however those perceptions will influence behavior trends. How a person perceives a brand will determine how well they actually engage with it. 

Apple has long positioned itself as a “Think Different” firm that is always pushing the boundaries in the number of tech fields they’re a part of. The company keeps the intricacies of their brand and the moves they aim to make within their industry hidden until it’s time to make an announcement. Their product releases generate unrivaled hype, unlike any other brand.

 

Also, Apple is a perfect example of why branding isn’t just a name or logo. The corporation has absolutely nothing to do with selling or discussing apples, and when we hear the name in passing or see the brilliant emblem, we immediately think iPhone, Macbook, iMac, and so on. When you first touch an Apple device, you think of the clean, minimalist vibe it gives you when touching it for the first time. That’s because Apple has done a great job at building that image and positioning in your headspace to let you know that they are a tech company through their brand’s mission, visual presence, message, values, and if you dig deeper so much more. 

What value does a brand offer in your business?

Your brand identity is a business tool that helps to drive a measurable ROI. When you have a strong brand, customers are more likely to pick your product or service over your competitors. Branding draws in more clients at a cheaper acquisition cost who are usually willing to pay a bit more if they know the quality will be excellent.

If you’re like me at all, then Apple has your heart and you have no desire or will to pick up any other non-apple products. Why is this? Well for one the look of all their products is just beautiful, minimal, and aesthetically pleasing. Apple products make it easy to share files and work from anywhere.  The company is ever-changing and always offering new updates, software, and devices.

Of course, it’s not all about what’s on the outside; Apple’s customer service is awesome and their employees are great problem solvers. They make sure they know all of the ends and outs of a new product before it hits the floor, and they’re helpful to one another. Not to mention it’s always so clean and organized. In every Apple store that I’ve ever been in, I’ve never seen a mess or any clutter. An environment like this makes it hard to fuss about the long wait times they often have as well as reduces the panic we all have when we go in for Apple Support. These are all things that make Apple customers stick around and remain loyal enough to upgrade their phones every year when a new one releases (shhh don’t judge me, I know I’m not the only one).

To better understand branding and why it is so valuable; let’s break down the fundamentals and the essential elements that make up a quality brand.

What are the elements of a brand?

The elements of a solid and successful brand include; brand compass, brand personality, brand archetypes, competitive advantage, brand promise, visual and verbal identity, and brand experience.

Brand Compass

The brand compass is a summary of the most fundamental principles of your brand and includes;  your purpose, vision, mission, values, and strategic objectives. The brand compass is usually discovered or developed in the brand strategy process to understand and identify where the company is headed and why. 

Your purpose is the why behind your brand and the vision is the end goal you hope to achieve. Your mission defines how you intend to bring your vision to life whereas your strategic objectives are short-term or long-term goals out in place to track your progress.

Brand Personality

Ultimately, you wanna think of your brand as a person because it is the visual representation of your business. Brand personality consists of many characteristics that are unique to your brand and what others think about it. Brand personality is the reason why buyers can recognize emotions and associate them with your business. 

What makes Apple stand out from the competition is its unique brand identity. From the development of the products and services provided to the customer service in the store and on the phone, the quality of service is always excellent, easy to obtain, and stress-free.

Brand Archetypes

Following along with the idea of thinking of your brand as a human being; brand archetypes give your brand actual humanlike characteristics. When properly identified, brand archetypes reflect your brand’s personality with specific consumer types.

Carl Jung founded the concept of the 12 brand archetypes. He theorized that humans use symbolism to more easily understand complex concepts. By determining which archetype your brand represents, you can curate a compelling story about your brand that will attract audiences who can relate.

The 12 Brand Archetypes Include:

+ The innocent

+ Everyman

+ Hero

+ Outlaw

+ Explorer

+ Creator

+ Ruler

+ Magician

+ Lover

+ Caregiver

+ Jester

+ Sage

Competitive Advantage

Competitive advantage is pretty straightforward in terms of definition; it is ultimately what you do better than your competitors. However, when it boils down to it, action speaks louder than words. Defining your competitive advantage can be tricky because everyone claims they are the best option when trying to persuade a customer to invest in their brand. It is important for any business who’s looking to take the lead in their industry to identify what they do better than anyone else in their market and prove it.

Brand Promise

Your brand’s promise is the commitment you make to those you serve. 

Take Walmart for example; their brand promise is “Save money, live better”. Walmart offers its customers a better quality of life with quick access to their needs by combining the promise of low prices with emotional rewards. 

Visual Identity

Your brand’s visual identity is a system of visual elements and features that make your brand easily identifiable and distinguishes it from other brands in your industry. These features and elements include; logo marks, color palettes, typography, photography, icons, etc.

A strong visual identity reflects all of the characteristics of your brand, including the brand compass, brand personality, brand promise, and of course the archetypes. Your brand’s visual identity should be able to convey your brand’s message to everyone who comes in contact with it.

A solid visual identity will reflect all of the characteristics of your brand including the brand compass, brand personality, brand promise, and of course archetypes. Your brand’s visual identity should be able to communicate your brand’s message to anyone who comes into contact with it.

Verbal Identity

Your brand’s verbal identity in contrast to its visual identity is another set of words, phrases, and messages that make your brand easy to spot when heard. These phrases can be found in the brand name, brand voice, taglines,  brand story, and any copywriting placed on your website and other marketing materials or platforms.

Why should you invest in branding?

Branding is an investment that, if done right, will pay off throughout the life of your business. Branding is one of the best investments you can make in your business and is best established when just starting.

Recap & Important Takeaways

Understanding what a brand truly is and how one is created can truly make all the difference in your business’s path to success. By investing in quality branding you gain more power to position yourself as an expert and as the go-to brand in your industry. A solid brand identity can set your business up to :

+ Generate more leads

+ Retain loyal customers

+ Reduce cost acquisition

+ Increase ROI

+ Keep consistency

Here’s an article that I also found useful written by Ross Kimbarovsky from Crowd Spring.

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