What Is Branding?

Hundreds of ads are competing every day for a place in the consumer’s mind. It is a mind assault that forces consumers to erase older information in order to make room for the new. It becomes impossible to remember all brands. The success of a product is not as directly linked to the marketing and advertising budgets spent as it is to the consumer and their perception: the consumer must accept the positioning you are offering for your product. Positioning is the perception of your product in the mind of your target market. It is the first thing you want your audience to think about when they see/hear your brand name. Positioning is “an organized system for finding a window in the mind.”[1]. The battle takes place in the mind of the consumer and Positioning will happen whether your company tries to create it or not. Positioning can be positive or negative. How does your product end up in the mind of your audience, and how can you positively influence its perception? By using carefully planned Branding. Branding is the process of developing and influencing positive perceptions to help your business succeed.

Why is branding necessary? Why are marketing and communication activities not enough? The answer is quite simple: through communication you can gain the attention of your customer; through marketing, you can convince them to buy your product; but through branding, you can influence how your target audience perceives your brand.  Branding creates loyalty and gives the consumer a reason to come back and purchase your product over and over again. Branding ensures preference in the mind of the customer for one brand versus another.

To understand branding, it is important to know what brands are. What is a brand? Acceptable definitions:

  • the intangible assets of a business
  • a collection of perceptions in the mind of the consumer
  • the public image of a company, product, service, or an individual
  • a marketing, design, and communication instrument[2]
  • a promise
  • a symbol (the product is transformed into a symbol)

What is not a brand?

  • making a name and a tagline
  • designing a logo
  • advertising or other forms of communication
  • the idea that you have a brand. You do not have a brand until your target audience recognizes your product as a brand.

The first step for a branding process is to have a quality product or service. If you have that, can you say you have a brand now? Absolutely not. There still is no connection with your customers, your brand has not reached their minds. Customers control the brand–client relationship, they decide if your product will become a brand and if your brand will survive and develop. Brands are an essential part of consumer acceptance. Only after you have established and communicated your brand identity can consumers create associations to your brand. As well as associations you wish to inspire intentionally, a brand may end up having unintentional associations (unfortunately, negative associations are also part of your brand). The way you communicate to your audience is through branding. Good branding is when an idea or image is marketed so that it is recognizable by more and more people, and identified with a certain service or product, especially when there are other companies offering the same service or product. Branding does not only build brand recognition, but also good reputation and brand expectation.

Remember: Brand positioning is about consumers. It does not matter what image you wish to create for your brand, if it is not the same as the one in the consumer’s mind, your efforts have all been for nothing. Branding is about creating an identity, it is about creating distinctive and memorable perceptions in the minds of consumers: what do you want your audience to think about your brand? By answering this question, you begin creating your brand strategy, as we will show in our next article.

[1] Al Ries, Jack Trout, Positioning – The Battle for Your Mind, 2001

[2] Wally Olins, The Brand Handbook