Branding (in marketing) is one of those terms that tends to get tossed out without a lot of thought to whether everyone understands what it means. A question about the meaning of branding came up at our place recently when a non-marketing person was putting together notes after a meeting where we discussed branding.
The brand of something is the look, the feel, the tone of it — basically the identity of a company, a product, or even a service. The brand can include the color and placement of the logo, the typeface, the tone of the copy, the voice — anything that hints at who the brand’s owner is without actually saying it. Think of the inserts which come in Sunday’s newspaper. How many circulars can you identify without seeing the company name?
A brand begins with the logo and ends . . . well, nowhere, really. Branding is omnipotent and all-encompassing. Sometimes even unintentional or negative things impact a brand, and not always for the good. Think about Mercedes, BMW, and Cadillac. Does each of those names evoke some sort of response or opinion in you? You bet it does. Now think about Toyota. Do you feel the same way about Toyota as you did, say, four years ago, before reports of acceleration problems surfaced? Probably not.
Intentionally or not, you have formed an impression of each of those cars.
One of the best definitions I’ve ever seen on branding is this:
“A brand is a promise about who you are and what benefits you deliver that gets reinforced every time people come in contact with any facet of you or your business. Branding is the process of building a positive collection of perceptions in your customer’s mind.”
Bill Chiaravalle and Barbara Findlay Schenk
Another favorite definition reads like this:
“Brand image means personality. Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the market place. The personality of a product is an amalgam of many things — its name, its packaging, its price, the style of its advertising, and, above all, the nature of the product itself.”
David Ogilvy, author of Ogilvy on Advertising
Good branding takes effort and intentionality. When done right, branding tells the customer what to think. So, with that in mind, what’s your brand looking like these days?