ABC’s of Communication Strategy: B is for Branding

by Kirk Westwood

Branding is a tricky one, as there is still such a divergent shift in what people know and understand about it.  It was this year a client of ours, a remarkably intelligent and successful business owner, expressed to us that branding was confined within your name and logo and how well those were designed and resinated with your audience.

This would be funny if they were a single exception or if that sentiment wasn’t actually remarkably harmful to the efficacy and efficiency of a brand.  Brand equity is an absolute “thing” and needs to be given as much attention as financial equity in a company.

Your brand has little to nothing to do with your logo.  Your brand is your voice.  Your brand and people’s affinity to it is why they pass your competitor to shop at your store.  Your logo merely stands as a reminder and a hallmark of the feelings your brand evokes.  Much like the cattle brands from which “branding” derived its name, a logo does nothing but assign ownership and credit to the quality of the product.

Building a brand voice that is consistent and repeatable throughout your customers’ user experience is paramount.  It’s why people come back and it’s how you turn one sale into 10.

Things to understand:

Brand Equity v. Financial Equity

Your brand equity and your business strength are nearly unrelated and need to be accounted for as separate things.  Companies like Monsanto and Comcast are massive titans of assets and financial strength but both are near bankrupt in brand equity.

What you sell matters
This means “but this makes us a lot of money” is not always the best defense in why or why not you should maintain a line of business. A product, a service, a fundraiser, almost any activity attached to your company should endeavor to be “on-brand.”  Brand extensions and product extensions can be employed to diversify to your max potential but establishing a consistency across all consumer touch-points will build it to be the strongest it can be.

A brand is a relationship

People don’t often gain a trust relationship with a product, they gain it with a brand.  Parents spend the money to go to Disney  movies, parks, hotels, cruises not because they think they are the best or cheapest, but because there is a level of trust established with the name “Disney.”  They know what to expect.  This can be said of competitors Target and Wal-Mart as well.  They carry largely the same product lines, the store layout is comparable, the access to both is often readily available.  However, many people will drive past a Wal-Mart to spend 15% more at Target because for a list of reasons they better enjoy the user experience at Target.  Target earned their trust.  Target established that relationship.

Your brand matters.  And much like we talked last week with content strategies, brand strategies are important too.  Who are you to your consumer?  Do they have a consistent experience across your touch-points?  Do they trust you? Can they?  Are you putting as much effort into the relationship and voice of who your company is as how much money you make?

If you bring your branding to the next level, establish that persona of your brand, you will find that it brings people back, as now they don’t have a product, they have a friend.  They have something/ someone/ somewhere they can trust.

Kirk Westwood

Kirk Westwood

Creative DIrector

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