Branding means various things to different people and virtually everyone has an idea of what it is but are unable to give it a single meaning. Among the several definitions of branding, David Aaker the author of Managing Brand Equity says ‘a brand is a distinguishing name or symbol such as a logo, trademark, or a package design intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or a group of sellers and to differentiate their goods and services from those of competitors.’ In his book, Emotional Branding, Daryl Davis says ‘a brand is a covenant of goodness with its users.’ These definitions are valid and I agree with them but I particularly like how Duane Knapp puts it. He said, ‘a brand is the internalized sum of all impressions received by customers and consumers resulting in a distinctive position in their ‘mind’s eye’ based on perceived emotional and functional benefits.‘
Later on, I will tell you why I like Knapp’s version. Yet, I like to think that:
”Branding is a mark of difference, that is, being rightly different.”
The reality is, we all are brand struck whether we think so or not, we rely on brands to make our purchase decisions. If not so, why do you like that particular drink, soap, phone or even shoe brand? Why do you prefer to take Coca-Cola instead of Fayrouz? By the way, everyone might not like Coca-Cola but it remains one of the world’s top brand. It is also possible to be indifferent about a brand i.e, you don’t like nor hate it. For some, it is either they use an apple product or nothing. Even those who claim to be immune to any brand usually have brands they will never opt-for. It could be because it is inferior or they simply don’t like it.
Branding is first about creating a unique selling proposition which gives a brand or product a distinguishing factor. It is owning a position of relevant differentiation in your marketplace. It is perceived as being different from competitors. Branding is having meaningful impressions on the lives of your customers. Unfortunately, there are loads of misconceptions about branding. People think that branding is a tag line like, ‘Bringing good things to life‘, or that a brand is a symbol like the Addidas logo or Nike swoosh. A brand is not the logo, tagline, product shape nor is it the default ringtone of your expensive mobile device. These are only elements, they are created to enhance a well-designed value proposition.
A t-shirt that is 100% cotton and of the highest quality can sell for $5 or $50. It can be sold in a deep discount retail store or a high-end prestigious boutique. The cost of the white T-shirt is determined by where it is sold or the brand name stitched inside its collar. This is due to the distinctive position held by the label name or its perceived impression of quality. Branding benefits business entities and the consumers at large. It protects producers and customers from competitors who could attempt to make similar products and creates a community of loyal fans. In branding, everything matters because it increases the financial value of any product, event, person or idea.
So, how do you integrate branding into your business to grow and raise your value in the marketplace? You do that first, through differentiation. Remember, we live in an age of unlimited choice, so your customers need to be sure. Hence, the need to differentiate or fade out quickly. A simple way to understand differentiation is to find your meaning. What does doing business with you mean to your customers? What is the benefit of doing business with you? Are you unique or at least better than your competitors? How do your customers feel when they hear your name?
You must have answers to these questions and more. Here at Big Field Digital, we find these answers. We help small, medium and large organizations develop their value proposition, and build the brand. Branding is the sum of impressions, distinctive positioning, and perceived benefits. These words are the reasons I like Duane Knapp’s definition. Most importantly, be aware that this is the first part of my Branding Series. In the next episode, we will discuss Unique Selling Proposition.