When you hear the words brand, brands, branding- what comes into your mind and runs before your eyes?
Is it the famous and iconic Apple logo? Or your favorite fast food chain brands like KFC or McDonald‘s? It might also be a commodity you use every day like that instant cup of Nescafe you had this morning while you skimmed through the Times on your way to work. Anyways you get the big picture. A brand helps you identify a product or services offered by a company. In this fast-paced world, branding helps you to identify the best among the multitude of products and services offered by various competitors in the market.
But “how does this help my small scale business?” you might think. “My company isn’t 50 years old, it is not even 5,” you say, “then why must I brand it?” The problem here is that you compare your brand with famous brands like Apple, Nike, Subway etc. and think what’s the point. You are unaware of that fact that if you own a company and if it has a name and a logo then it most definitely is a brand. The only thing that your brand now needs is projection and exposure so that it becomes synonymous with whatever products or services you provide.
In spite of all this, brand and branding is defined as follows by the American Marketing Association:
“A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. The legal term for ‘brand’ is ‘trademark’. A brand may identify one item, a family of items, or all items of that seller. If used for the firm as a whole, the preferred term is ‘trade’ name.”
Before we delve into the meaning of brands, branding, and its practical application, let’s take a peep at the history of brands and branding and what it has meant and means through the years. Branding is not a new aspect of marketing and advertising. It is as complex as astronomy yet as mesmerizing and drawing as the Northern Lights. It is an age-old tradition. In the beginning, that is around about 2700 BC or maybe even before that, branding was done on livestock to hinder theft and to distinguish ones cattle from your next door neighbors (or should we say next field herder?).
The word BRAND is derived from the word ‘BRANDR’ meaning to burn in Ancient Norse. Branding was adopted by all kinds of professionals like farmers, potters, traders on goods like pottery, ceramics and other commodities and has persisted and evolved ever since. History tracing reveals the independent emergence of brands and branding in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Branding became convenient as it helped to create an identity and helped resolve disputes regarding the ownership of whatever artifact was in question of authenticity. It created a sense of trust and loyalty amongst the users as the brand helped stamp the quality of the product or service pursued.
‘Imagine that you are Sean, a cattle trader who lived around 1000 BC. Now Sean boasts of cattle that has longevity, increased immunity and high milk and meat yield. Sean has decided to brand his trade as Sean’s Booming Bovines. He has branded his cattle and has traded them in the market for humble prices at the beginning. Gradually over time, Sean’s Booming Bovines gained fame and the tale of the superb cattle had reached far and wide. As a result, Sean had customers from all over the land and they were willing to do whatever needed to acquire a herd of the Booming Bovines. Sean’s Booming Bovines prospered and he became mighty rich and lived a long life.’
This tiny tale may seem silly and irrelevant to you. But when you think about it, there is a lot more to the story than meets the eye. Here is what a Brand and Branding is about from the aforementioned story:
1. Identity through branding
Your company will definitely have a name and a logo. But your business is not just an icon or a bunch of letters. It should relay the dedication and effort on your part to the consumers at large. They should be able to identify your services and product as a commodity. This is where branding and brand building comes in to save the day. When you get a paper cut you instantly think about grabbing a band-aid- a BAND-AIDÒ. Not joking, the adhesive bandages everybody uses is known as BAND-AIDÒ which is a bandage brand marketed by Johnson & Johnson. In this case, the Brand is synonymous with the product and that is called the finesse of branding. It would be every business owners dream to have their brand identified as a commodity and not just a brand.
2. Reputation and Reliance in branding
Once your customers are satisfied with your products or services, they will come back to you over and over again. Meaning that the customers will forever remain loyal to your brand. They will perpetuate the quality and the satisfaction they received through using your brand and this will bring you more sales. But in order to have the initial inflow of inbound sales branding becomes a necessary process. The most important thing is that a brand will never build itself unless given the boost it needs. If we look at the major league brands, they all had humble beginnings but branding helped establish them as household names.
3. Branding and Safety
Branding your business provides a sense of safety and stability to both you and your customer.
- You as the owner of the business will have the sense of security that your brand represents the signature services and products you render.
- Branding ensures that people identify what you provide as your own.
- It helps to establish a feeling of superiority among the competitors, even if your business is relatively new.
- Using a branded service or product reassures the consumer of the quality and is often than not a promise of quality.
- Users will feel comfortable in choosing your brand without hesitation and second thoughts.
4. Branding is an Intangible Asset
Building a brand is a gradual process yet it becomes an assured asset. For example, say you were to buy a new laptop or computer the first and foremost brand that pops into your mind is Apple. People tend to gravitate towards buying a pricey and well-known brand rather than a cheaper, lesser known brand of the same quality. This rings true from computers to the shoes that you wear. The reason for this is the strategic and well-executed branding techniques employed by the first brand in comparison to the second. While both companies have sales due to their branding and marketing techniques the first has increased assets due to the much sought after brand value. Brand value is cumulative, which means whatever branding and marketing strategy you wish to implement, the result if not immediate will become evident in the long run.
Having cleared the basic facts about why branding a company is of utmost importance, let’s move onto some inspiring thoughts, from a few well-known names, regarding brands, branding and brand building.
- “Your BRAND is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room”- JEFF BEZOS, Founder of Amazon.
- “If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand”- HOWARD SCHULTZ, CEO of Starbucks.
- “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.- STEVE JOBS, Co-founder of Apple.
- “Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business.” – STEVE FORBES, CEO of Forbes Media.
We have covered the basics of why branding is carried out. The next obvious question is -When should branding be done?
Business owners can opt to initiate branding at any point of time but ideally, it is done as follows:
1. When starting a new business: Branding a business in its budding stages helps create an identity among competitors. It also helps in incorporating the company’s ideologies into the branding such that the brand becomes a reflection of the core values.
2. When launching new products or services: A company can opt to brand their products or services individually such that it gets an identity of its own and stands out among the vast amount of options available in the market.
3. When revamping the company: As new companies spring into the market like mushrooms after a brief spell of rain, the competition gets tight. This, unfortunately, results in dwindling clients. Often this “client drought” leads a company to rename and re-brand. The renewed energy attained by the new branding helps to draw in the lost client population with a vigor that put the competitors to shame. As per the adage- it is better to brand a bit later than to never brand.
We talked about the importance of branding and when to brand but before introducing the ‘how’ of branding, it is time to clarify a doubt. ‘What is the difference between branding and marketing? It’s the same thing, right?’ WRONG!
Let us bring back Sean and his Booming Bovines.
Sean, one fine day meets an old friend Tom. I’m sure Sean won’t mind us eavesdropping on them (it’s not polite but that’s not the point here).
“Hello Sean been an awfully long time since I saw you, what have you been up to?” asks Tom. “Nothing much, been a tad bit busy with my Booming Bovines,” says Sean. “Booming Bovines? What’s that all about?” said Tom scratching his head. Grabbing the ultimate opportunity to boast about his fine cattle of goes Sean explaining the qualities of his Booming Bovines. “Oh I see!” exclaims Tom with piqued interest. “Come with me, Tom. You will surely buy my mighty fine Booming Bovines once you lay your eyes on them.” And off they went arm in arm, Sean with the satisfaction of having secured a prospective buyer and Tom with the blazing curiosity of a cat.
Here Sean introducing the qualities of his booming Bovines is branding and marketing is persuading Tom to seal the deal.
Branding is all about expressing the core values that your company wishes to inculcate in the products and services offered. Whereas marketing is where you spread awareness about what you offer. In other words, branding is your identity and marketing is your proclamation. Hence branding comes first and then marketing.
Now comes the most important – How to brand your company?
Look no further you have arrived at the right destination- Infothrone.
We here at Infothrone are aware of the struggle that most companies face in branding and establishing the brand. We not only provide the complete branding solution but also assure customizability. It is you who knows best about your requirements, and our team is at your service to adapt and adopt in accordance with your company’s needs. Our brand could be your brand’s reputation. But before you choose us for your brand building, here is a bit about us.
INFOTHRONE – the brainchild of a young and enthusiastic entrepreneur, who goes by the name Achuth B. Mohandas, was born in the year 2014. Ever since its establishment, we here at Infothrone have had the opportunity to work with a variety of clients both domestic and international alike. From healthcare to entertainment, you name it we have done it. Infothrone is the one stop solution to all your business needs, from branding to staff augmentation we do it all.