What is Branding?
When you first think of branding, there’s a lot of things that may come to mind.
Entrepreneur.com defines branding as “the marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.”
This includes elements like the logo, slogan, mascot, colors, etc. All of the things that are visible at first glance. While all of these are aspects of branding, there’s more to it than just the physical things.
Jeff Bezos has been famously quoted for saying that “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
This suggests that branding is about creating a personal experience for consumers. While you can carefully orchestrate the things that make up your brand like the logo and website, your brand actually relies on how customers view you.
As a company, you want your brand to communicate your company’s values, whether that’s through design, content, actions, etc. in a way that connects and hopefully moves your customer to act.
Why Branding Matters
In today’s world, there are many similar products on the market, branding helps you differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Let’s take a look at the iPhone. Currently, there are many smartphone companies and models to choose from, all with comparable features. When it comes to price, Apple is in the higher tier, with their phones costing upward of $1000. However, there are still iPhone loyalists who choose to pay this high price over another smartphone with pretty similar capabilities. Why? Branding.
In my marketing class, my professor asked everyone who owned an iPhone to raise their hand. More than half of the hands in my class shot up. He then asked “who would trade their iPhone for a Samsung?” One hand stayed up. While yes, there are features that differentiate an iPhone from Samsung, their biggest asset is their brand. My classmates said that they’d had iPhones for years. It’s almost become part of their identity. They are an Apple user. That’s the power of branding.
More Than a Brand
The strongest brands make customers feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves.
Apple is made for creatives and those wanting to step outside the box. Nike hopes to inspire and empower athletes to be their best with the sky being their limit. These two brands have become more than their products, instead being referred to as lifestyle brands.
When you flash these logos on your electronics, clothes and products, people identify you with the characteristics of the brand.
Apple’s “Think Different” campaign called out to the “crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently… because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do. Today, Apple is the most valuable brand in the world and it’s not difficult to see why.
This ad by Nike moves far beyond their brand and products, and emphasizes a broader message they want to convey. They have been known to stand up for causes that they believe in, despite how people might react to it.
In an interesting twist on branding, these companies took their name and logo almost completely out of the picture. It’s not until the very end of the video that the companies flash their logo, letting the viewer realize that it was an ad. Apple and Nike have aligned their brands with something more than just what they are selling, but with an idea.
Overall, branding helps your business in a few key ways
- It differentiates your company from competitors
- It creates loyal customers who connect with your brand
- Turns your customers into promoters (think about those who insist on Apple being better than Windows or Nike beating adidas.)
As you can see, this makes branding very important. Branding isn’t just about connecting your logo or color scheme with your products. It’s about associating your company with an idea, a feeling, or a cause that people want to identify with.