Every time I network with someone new, regardless of personal or professional context, I know it’s coming. The inevitable “go-to” question: “So, what do you do?”
“Brand development and management.” [nod and blank stare]
“Do you know what that is?”
“I’m sure I can figure it out.” Someone once thought I wrote IT software (which is incorrect, by the way).
I welcome the opportunity to educate people on what branding is and how important it is to understand their own. Every person and company has a brand whether it’s purposeful or not, so it’s crucial to intentionally create and consistently maintain relevant pillars externally as well as internally.
Ask five different people what branding is and you very well may receive five similar, but varied answers. Some might say branding is a promise (kept & delivered), but we believe branding is all about creating a connection and moment of trust.
Branding is the building of an identity: tone or personality, creating a feeling or emotion, and delivering core values. It’s about methodically and intentionally constructing a memory the consumer will remember after the experience is over.
The end goal of any branding effort is for the end user to interpret the received message consistently with how it was intended by the sender.
We can only control how we project messages, not how audiences will understand them.
Take a moment to think about your initial reaction to each of these brands:
PEPSI vs. COKE
GAP vs. LOUIS VUITTON
DROID vs. iPHONE
They sell very similar products in the same marketplace, but I guarantee you think differently of each brand.
The majority of people have a solid loyalty to either Pepsi or Coke products. Where did this attachment come from? Most likely childhood.
How would a similar (if not identical) shirt be viewed from the Gap versus Louis Vuitton? Preppy and comfortable versus luxurious and expensive?
Again, the majority of people are extremely invested in either Droid or Apple products. Technology-savvy versus simplicity and ease of use?
A common misconception: BRANDING ≠MARKETING. Branding is not the same as marketing.
Branding is a long-term relationship. You have to constantly attract your consumers and consistently reinforce positive associations with your brand. The end goal is to generate feelings of emotion or a connection. How does your consumer feel when they think of your brand? Branding is the building and development of the brand personality.
Marketing is like closing the deal; the finished piece that will convince consumers why they need your product. This is where tactical advertising and promotion comes in. Marketing is any outbound brand awareness to increase consumer engagement. Previous branding efforts should have created enough of an attachment with end-users that they are already familiar with your brand in a positive way so the setup of the sale has been as easy as possible.