Learn Why Branding Is Important in Marketing
There is a lot of confusion around branding and exactly what it is. Decades ago branding was defined as a name, slogan, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of these elements that distinguish one product or service from another. The brand of a product or service differentiated it from the competition.
Today brand is a bit more complex, and even more important in today’s world of marketing. It’s the perception that a consumer has when they hear or think of your company name, service, or product. The best example is Nike's swish which conveys a sense of speed and movement.
What Should a Brand Do?
Branding is not just about getting your target market to select you over the competition. It's also about getting your prospects to see you as the sole provider of a solution to their problem or need. In its essence, branding is a problem-solver. Even Nike's swish tells the consumer that this sneaker will solve your problem of running too slowly. The swish makes every consumer feel like an athlete.
The objectives that a good brand will achieve include:
- Clearly deliver a message
- Confirm your credibility in the marketplace
- Emotionally connect your target prospects with your product or service
- Motivate the buyer to make a purchase
- Create the magic bullet of user loyalty
Branding and Understanding Your Customer
To succeed in branding, you must understand the needs and wants of your customers and prospects. You can achieve this by integrating your brand strategies throughout your company at every point of public contact. Think of branding as though your company or organization were a living, breathing person. Imagine this person explaining who they are, why they're valuable, and what they specifically have to offer.
As consumers begin to identify with you, your brand will live in the hearts and minds of customers, clients, and prospects—and connect on an emotional level.
The Importance of Branding and the 3 Key Questions
It's important to spend time researching, defining, and building your brand. After all, your brand is the source of a promise to your consumer. If you're billing yourself as the manufacturer of the longest-lasting light bulb, your brand has to live up to that.
In developing a strategic marketing plan, your brand serves as a guide to understanding the purpose of your key business objectives. It enables you to align a marketing plan with those objectives and fulfill the overarching strategy. And remember, the effectiveness of a brand doesn't just happen before the purchase—the brand experience has to last to create brand loyalty. In other words, did the product or service perform as expected? Was the quality as good as promised or better? How was the service experienced?
If you can get positive answers to these three questions, you've created a loyal customer.
Beyond Loyal Customers
Brand not only creates loyal customers, it creates loyal employees. A quality brand gives people something to believe in, something to stand behind. It helps employees understand the purpose of the organization they work for—they feel like they're a part of something significant and not just a cog in a wheel.
A Basic Checklist to Evaluate Your Brand
The question is, how do you know if your brand is strong enough to give you the internal and external value that you need in your marketing efforts? Start by asking yourself the following:
- Does my brand relate to my target audience? Will they instantly "get it" without too much thought?
- Does my brand share the uniqueness of what I am offering and why it's important?
- Does it reflect the brand promise made to my target audience and hold value for my internal audience?
- Does my brand reflect the values that I want to represent to my customers?
Let these questions serve as a guideline in the development of your brand. If you're not sure about the answers you may want to revamp your branding effort. A brand should be an instant "ah-ha" moment—it should require very little thought.