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So What is “Branding” Anyways?

You are trying to start a business or take things to the next level, and all you hear from every creative, friend, and partner is, "you need to have great branding," or "we need to rebrand."

But what exactly is Branding?

In our search for getting a handle on Branding, the dictionary's definition of Branding does not get us very far at all.

Let's take a deeper dive.

Advertising, ad copy, labeling, packaging, displays, tv spots, billboards, online ads, and any other promotion that you see from companies is all done in the name of Branding.

But ultimately is the outward appearance of the product the Branding? Are the ads and the way the service pitched the real motivators in changing or shaping 'people's perception of the brand?

The simple answer is "yes," but there is a lot more to Branding than external look.

The truth is that the foundation of your brand is less of what you say to others and more of what you say to yourself about your product or service.

Let's stop with the theoretical; what do I mean?

A tale of two companies

Here is an example of two IT companies.

Company A has a founder who prides himself providing IT services which offer unparalleled stability and safety.

Company B has a founder who prides himself on providing quality IT services that 't don't break the bank of his customers.

Both have their clients best interests in mind. A's clients get the most secure and stable platform money can buy. B's clients get great IT services that let them grow their business without dragging on the bottom line.

Intuitively at this point, you understand that the Branding for these companies will be different.

They could both go by the generic name of A-1 IT services or Best IT. But since both companies have a distinct business compass that will inform their decisions, help them decide on pricing, and which clients they pursue, they will each need tailored Branding.

A will end up serving banks, nursing homes, and financial institutions that have major safety concerns or special regulations regarding network stability

B will end up helping startups, small businesses and call centers that have less of a need for the perfect IT infrastructure and would appreciate the savings,

A could use a name like Bulwark Systems or Rock IT, or Paragon.

B could use a name like Rapid Systems, Fair IT or Lodestone.

A could not and should not use B's Branding and vice versa.

The most effective brand that will resonate with customers is one that reflects and amplifies the true nature of the business. You cannot merely "brand" a product and service for success if it doesn't match the real world product or service. Eventually, all the "branding" in the world won't help.

Branding in the wild

Two Examples

  • (Share a Coke) Coke's Branding as the drink of fun and friends works, because they are the number one soft drink in the world and typically a Coke drink will end up in your hand while you are out with friends. The Branding mirrors the product and Coke has enjoyed continued success

  • (Together We'll Go Far) Wells Fargo branding as a friendly and trustworthy bank did not work because they tried to cheat their customers with fake accounts and other scandals. Their Branding did not match the service, and their stock price has been halved in the last few years

Build your brand

The takeaway is that your business needs to have an internal compass and decide what they are all about, what is the goal of their product and service then solidify that into the brand. Then you can use your innate understanding of your brand to inform the advertising mediums, messages, and efforts so that they are all genuinely aligned with your BRAND.

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