Branding 101: A Primer for Businesses -

Branding 101: A Primer for Businesses

Everybody seems to be talking about branding these days, but what is it, really? This article gives you a succinct overview.

What is branding?
Branding is a holistic approach to your company’s position, customer interactions, and operations, based on your company’s values. Branding is devoted to establishing and nurturing a relationship with your customers.

What is a brand?
Your brand is a person’s gut feeling about your company. It’s an emotional, sensory understanding of what your company is, rather than an intellectual, rational memory of your tagline or logo.

Why have a strong brand?
The stronger your brand, the greater your customer loyalty. The world’s strongest brands have not just customers or fans, but evangelists. Brand evangelists champion their favorite brands, not just by buying that brand’s products, but by enthusiastically recommending them to other potential customers. Word of mouth is one of the most important factors in influencing a buyer’s decision; brand evangelists build buzz for your brand out of intense loyalty, giving your company free advertising and testimonials.

Strong brands claim greater market share and higher price premiums, lower customer churn, attract and retain better employees and customers, block out competition, and can co-brand or expand into new business areas more easily. They are less likely to fall victim to commoditization. They lead, they innovate, theycreate niches rather than try to compete for what others have already carved out.

The stronger your brand, the more flexibility you have as a company. You also have higher staff morale, which leads to greater productivity. A brand is not a face a company wears; it’s a true reflection of the experience of interacting with that company.

What does branding encompass?
Your brand is much more than just your logo. Your corporate identity (logo, colors, paper stocks, and other identifying graphic material) is one component. Other components include your marketing strategy, public relations, employee identification with the brand, and every customer interaction, whether that’s one-on-one or via the web, print, or broadcast media. It’s how your staff answers the phone, how easy your website is to use, what message your visual identity sends, how quickly staff responds to customer needs, the tone of your copywriting, and even, in the case of a retail environment, how your store smells. It’s the sum total of every experience people have with your company.

What are some examples of strong brands?
International brands are rated each year by branding agencies for their market reach, strength of identity, customer loyalty, and more. Brands which often rank in the top ten include:

  • Coca-Cola
  • Nike
  • Starbucks
  • Ben & Jerry’s
  • Apple Computer

Is branding just for big business?
Branding is for every size company. Small businesses have an advantage over large businesses because it’s much easier for them to provide a consistent brand experience. Think of your favorite mom-and-pop restaurant or store: You probably patronize that business because you enjoy not just the product or service itself, but the experience of getting it. Small businesses are frequently much better positioned to stake out niche markets because of their intimate understanding of the communities they serve.

Having a strong brand doesn’t mean having a huge, international corporation. It just means having a clearly identifiable presence in the marketplace that offers a unique experience to your target market. With a strong brand, your business will flourish as a provider of an experience which customers can’t find anywhere else.