What is Branding?
“Taste the feeling”, is a marketing ad that you most probably have come across. It is associated with sharing great moments with family while having a coke soft drink. You may also have come across an ad with teens having a good time while enjoying the different flavors of Fanta.
Both Coca-Cola products depict a certain feeling, and experience that relates to consumers when you interact with the products, however, each has a different target market. This is what is referred to as branding. So what is branding?
Branding is the process of creating a particular perception for a target market to associate with your company, product, and service. Companies and organizations employ this strategy to create and shape the perception of how their consumers think about, interact and experience their companies, products, services.
From the Coca-Cola illustration, the coke brand associates something that people value, family time, with its product such that whenever consumers think of family time, they have the feeling that to enjoy the experience more it is important to have a coke soft drink.
Product + experience/feeling associated = Product brand
There are three main categories of branding; company or organization branding, product branding, and personal branding.
This is the process of creating a perception of how consumers associate with a particular company or organization as a whole. A good example is when you think of the United Nations you relate them with peacekeeping, humanitarian causes, and poverty eradication. Their reputation, works and how people recognize them is what makes the organization brand.
Involves a company associating its different brands with a specific target market. In the illustration of the brands' coke and Fanta, we can see how the two brands target different market niches. Coke is the preferred option for the family whereas Fanta is the preferred option for teens and young adults.
According to Wikipedia personal branding is the conscious and intentional effort to create and influence public perception of an individual by positioning them as an authority in their industry, elevating their credibility, and differentiating themselves from the competition, to ultimately advance their career, increase their circle of influence, and have a larger impact. The best example of personal branding can be seen with social media influencers.
Importance of branding
1. Customer brand loyalty
In the Kenyan Telecom space, there are a variety of mobile money options. However, you will ever find people choosing M-Pesa over its competitors despite them having the same service and at an even cheaper transaction fee. This is a great illustration of brand loyalty when consumers have compelling reasons and beliefs to choose your product or service over the competition.
2. Create a unique identity in your industry
How are your company, product, and service different from the competition? What are you providing for the target market that is unique? Mercedes, a German auto-manufacturer, is associated with luxurious vehicles for the upper-income class whereas Toyota, a Japanese auto-manufacturer, is largely associated with cheaper vehicles for the middle-income class. These two companies are in the same industry but have set themselves apart for a specific market hence creating the reputations they have associated with their brands.
3. Establishing market leadership
To stand out and be a leader in your industry, is one of the core goals of any business. Branding plays a big role as it makes an effort to connect and engage the market and ensures that the market recognizes it or its product/service as positive and impactful. This builds brand loyalty and hence a high market share.
I want to build a brand, what should I consider?
Before building a brand, it is important to note three key concepts of branding; Brand strategy, brand identity, and brand marketing.
This is a long-term formal blueprint plan of how a business or organization intends to create a certain outstanding perception of its business or products to its targeted market with consideration to its business goals.
This is how the brand is presented to the market, it involves the visual elements, messaging, and experience that make it outstanding from others. The logo, color choice, shapes, patterns, fonts, and print are some of the visual elements. The messaging such as slogan, tagline, brand name, and the experience of how the customers interact with the company and product is carefully designed to create a lasting impression and emotional connection with the market.
This is how a business/organization actively promotes the company’s or product's identity and reputation to its target market. It involves a lot of communication with the customers in a meaningful and engaging way. Some methods of brand marketing include; SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, and paid advertisement.
Having understood these concepts now let us look at the steps to build a great brand
Steps to Creating a great Brand
1. Start with a purpose for your brand
Defining the purpose is crucial for the brand. The purpose should not only align with the business goals but should connect with the target niche market. The brand differentiates the brand from its competitors. This helps in building the foundation of a great, impactful, and long-term brand strategy.
2. Know your target market
The key to creating a successful brand is to know your target market. This requires in-depth and specific research from age group, gender, lifestyle, interests, and education. It is essential to understand you are building the brand for the users and not for the company, hence you need to recognize their needs and pain points from their perspective.
3. Research your competitors
Understand the efforts made by both direct and indirect competitors in the industry, their market share, and generally how the target audience perceives them. This will help in redirecting efforts to more impactful branding strategies and also maximize the market gaps.
4. Mission and vision of the brand
This is the story of the ‘why’ behind a brand. The mission tells the story that connects the target market with your brand. Why should a customer choose you and not the competition? Having understood your target market and your brand purpose, you can come up with a clear mission and vision for your brand. Here one should be able to note the key qualities of your product and how different it is from your competitors.
5. Create the brand visuals and messaging
In this step, visuals such as the logo, color choices, patterns, icons, and shapes are designed as well as coming up with the messaging elements such as the brand name, tagline, and slogan that reflect the purpose, vision, and mission of the brand.
6. Integrate your brand everywhere
Now that you have created a great brand it is time to ensure that your brand is visible to everyone else from digital platforms such as website, and social media pages to print and packaging, flyers, brochures, and business cards.
Branding is important if not necessary to building a great business. Through branding, a company creates a favorable and lasting impression on its target market mind. Customers connect well with your brand and remain loyal.
Branding is the foundation stone of a great business.