Branding is the marketing process of creating an identity for a company that is unique and distinguishes it from competitors. In the strictest sense, the discussion of branding is usually focused around representative elements such as the company name, visual elements (such as the logo), and brand voice.
In a broader sense, many marketers view any type of interaction a customer (or potential customer) or the general public has with a company as an opportunity to make a lasting impression, and therefore, would consider many other aspects as part of the branding process including in-person and online shopping experiences, and customer service.
"Brand equity" is the level of value and credibility brands bring to products or services in the minds of consumers above and beyond the direct benefits a product or service provides.
A brand should not only reflect the values and personality of the people running the company — but it should also be crafted around the expectations and preferences of a business' target market.
The goal of this page is for the reader to (upon a complete reading) come away with a better understanding of the foundations of the branding process and its importance to the overall marketing process.
Aspects of a brand[edit | edit source]
Name[edit | edit source]
The name of a company can be descriptive or symbolic. It can directly communicate what products and/or services a company provides, or it can convey an attitude — think of IBM (International Business Machines Corporation) vs. Apple Computer. Names also sometimes represent the family or person that stared the company (e.g. Ford).
A name will sometimes come very easily and naturally to business people and marketers, or it can require extensive brainstorming and name-generation exercises. Sometimes, even consultants are hired to help with naming a company.
Regardless of the approach that is taken to name the company, it is important that what is settled on is a name that distinguishes itself from other companies, is clear, and concise.
Visuals[edit | edit source]
There are various components of a company's brand that establish a unique identity in the minds of consumers. They include but are not always limited to, the sections below.
Logo[edit | edit source]
The most recognizable part of a brand is often the logo or logomark. A logo is not just an image or graphic which uniquely identifies the entity it belongs to, it can also communicate a message, core value, or purpose of the entity (company, organization, team etc). For example, if you take a look at the logo of Amazon, the online retailer, there is an arrow going from A to Z in the word Amazon which communicates that it sells products from A to Z.
The logo creation process usually starts with the line art and imagery represented in black and white. Color is usually applied after official brand colors are established.
Colors[edit | edit source]
A brand's colors should never be arbitrary. When a business goes through the process of selecting the brand's official colors, a variety of considerations should be addressed and fleshed out including what exactly certain colors communicate about a brand. Colors can create a mood, communicate an attitude, or influence impressions and perception as much as a name can.
Icons and Other Graphic Elements[edit | edit source]
A brand's logo, matched with its colors, are not the only aspects that can become proprietary and unique to a brand. Icons, such as ones that represent specific services or products offered, can become almost as well known and powerful in the minds of consumers as the company logo.
A company doesn't need a unique graphic element for everything that it will visually represent.
For example, a location marker on a map that shows the headquarters of the company, for instance, would not necessarily need to be a unique creation. However, if a cleaning company has three levels of services that they offer, it may complement the overall visual approach to the brand to have unique images or icons associated with them.
Fonts[edit | edit source]
The average consumer may not spend a lot of time consciously thinking about the stylization of the written words and selection of fonts a brand implements, but they are usually the result of careful selection on the part of business that understand that even these subtle visual aspects can establish perception and leave an impression with consumers. Fonts can be solid, harsh, soft, or any other characteristic that helps establish a brand's personality.
Personality[edit | edit source]
Established brands tend to be described with human characteristics by consumers (e.g. rebellious, tough, nice, kind, caring, abrasive, etc.). This is usually the result of the overall impression consumers develop of a brand after consistency in the marketing process creates a lasting impression with the audience. Your actions and words define you as a person, and it is no different with brands.
Consumers who can identify with, appreciate, or like personality of a brand (above and beyond liking the products or services) tend to be more loyal to that brand. Think of a brand that you personally like and consider the way it advertises or uses language.
Verbal and Visual Style[edit | edit source]
All written and visual elements of a brand contribute to establishing "who" a brand is by defining the way it looks and presents itself to consumers — this includes the brand name and colors.
Actions[edit | edit source]
When you initially think of a brand, you may only initially think of elements (name, logo, colors, etc.) that are created by the marketing department that help establish it. However, if you stop and think you will realize that many of the world's most successful businesses have brands that also do things that consumers and the general public perceive to be positive.
Marketing professionals work very hard at creating, and spreading the word about, the positive things a brand does.
Examples of this include, but are of course not limited to:
- Donations to charity
- Creating an event or campaign raise money for a charitable cause
- Giving away free samples of a product or free trials of a service
- Sponsoring a community event