Branding or brand management consists of positioning a brand, its philosophy and its values, for a target audience in the market. This process also includes the maintenance and monitoring of the reputation of the specific brand and its image linked to a logo, corporate colors and even the claim or main message that it wants to convey.
To do this, the company must implement concrete marketing actions with the aim of creating that brand image -the term derives precisely from the English ‘brand equity’-, maintain it and defend it if it is attacked by competition or by a reputation crisis.
Branding is a concept closely linked to the emotional connection of a company’s product or set of products with its customers (potential and real). The company must appeal to the user’s relationship with the brand in order to distinguish itself from the competition and achieve their loyalty. Some authors add that branding is closely related to meeting customer expectations and satisfaction.
The brand image differs from the corporate image in that the second is only visual or composed of structural elements, while the first includes other more emotional aspects, such as company philosophy, corporate social responsibility, etc.
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The origin of branding
Despite the irony, branding is a concept more valued than ever today, precisely now that the focus of marketing has become the customer rather than the product. However, it has been a fundamental piece in companies for decades, when large American companies discovered that it was much easier for them to place a product on the market if there was a certain brand behind it.
Its development began to be experienced after the Second World War,with the unification of design styles, logos and packaging, which became identifiers of a brand. However, its boom occurred from the 90s, when investments in advertising, and especially in television with the increase in licenses for new channels, skyrocketed.
Branding took a new step forward with the boom of the Internet and the appearance of new communication channels, such as the smartphone. In addition to the uniformity of the messages, in form and content, those responsible for the brands were forced to closely monitor anything that was said about their products on the Internet with the obligation to deny false news, correct their own errors denounced by the prosumers and anticipate user trends.
At present, companies have had to adapt their philosophy to social changes so as not to distance themselves from new consumers. In this way, we can see how many energy companies have quickly become associated with sustainable energy or how fast food companies have changed their corporate colors to green to align with the defense of the prevailing environment among the youngest.
Currently, large companies usually go to agencies specialized in branding or create a specific position within their marketing departments to ensure the brand image. These specialists must take into account above all the 5 elements that make up branding and that we can summarize in the following:
- Enterprise architecture. It is the strategic way in which it is configured together with brands, products and services of a company’s portfolio. This must be coherent and organized in such a way that it is easy for the consumer to identify the organization of the company’s products/services.
- Positioning. Referring to the space that a brand occupies within the minds of consumers, achieving an adequate positioning is the cornerstone of any branding process.
- Brand loyalty. It is the trust that our brand obtains through the links it builds with consumers, loyalty is highly linked to engagement and is one of the goals to which every company aspires.
- Corporate identity. The visual presence of the brand, the manifestation through visual elements that represent the identity of the same.
- Naming. The strategy that encompasses the set of actions aimed at assigning names to a brand, when working on branding it is necessary that there is a coherent naming.
How to improve branding
Enhancing the branding of a company entails a previous strategy that highlights the values of the brand and produces trust and credibility. At least the following aspects should be taken into account in this strategy:
- Differentiation. It seems logical to think that we will not be able to differentiate ourselves from the competition if we do not differentiate ourselves in the slightest from them, that is why it is necessary to project an image of originality and unique authenticity.
- Visual identity. All those visual elements linked to the brand such as the logo, isotype or symbol, typography, colors, etc. are vital to configure the way we connect with the public. Visual language impacts faster than any other and this is why it will largely determine part of the first impression they form of us.
- Engagement. The goal is to generate the maximum possible value for customers so that they develop brand loyalty.
Examples of a correct brand strategy
There are pioneering companies in the construction and management of the brand that manage to position in the market any product or service that is proposed. If we think about branding, it is very easy for the following examples to come to mind:
- Apple. The tech company’s biggest achievement has been to create a universe in which all its products and services are connected. In this way, the user obtains greater advantages the more Apple products he consumes and, in addition, adds a plus of exclusivity caused by higher prices.
- Coke. The soft drink multinational could be considered the leader in this type of strategy. Its association with happiness and the emotional component of all its campaigns allows the brand to connect with its customers even at a time when carbonated and sugary drinks are in question. It is an example of a loyal audience that is shown what it wants to see.
- Starbucks. The coffee chain is a benchmark in any basic lesson on marketing for its ability to move from selling coffees to selling a complete experience thanks to its local care. In this case, as in Apple’s, the customer does not mind paying a little more in order to belong to an exclusive club of consumers who get much more than a drink.
- McDonald’s. This company, like Coca-Cola, must be credited with reinventing itself to survive the movement against ultra-processed food. The hamburger chain has dyed its premises green, has added healthy products to its menu and has developed the service of attention in tables to end the image of cheap food, of low quality and with a fair service.
Everything we have commented so far is based on the brand image of a company, but it is also common to work the brand of a political, cultural, artistic personality, etc. What is personal branding? It is about the impact that a person leaves on others through their actions, their words and whatever aspect is made public.
In this sense, the work of personal branding is even more linked if possible with the role of a public relations, to the extent that the person responsible for the image of a personality is obliged to channel and control everything that is published about it and to advise him in his public interventions.
The term was first coined by Tom Peters,in an article written in 1997 in Fast Company magazine, and not just linked to famous people. Experts in worker selection highlight the importance of the digital footprint today in the search for employment, for example, or in the choice of a person for a promotion.