What Is a Brand? (Plus Types and How-To Guide)
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A company's brand offers an image of how the business world and consumers should view a company. Marketing departments are often responsible for creating this company identity and managing this brand and perceived public perception. If you're in a marketing position, learning more about branding can help you create and maintain the most effective and positive brand for your company. In this article, we discuss what a brand is, why your brand is important, the various types of brands and how to establish your company's brand.
What is a brand?
A brand is the public imaging of a company, product, person or group. When an individual thinks about your company, your brand is often the image associated with your name. For many companies, establishing and maintaining a brand is an important aspect of their marketing and public relations operations. A company may manage multiple brands at once, including the branding of individual products, groups of products and the entire company.
Benefits of branding
Creating a brand for your company, or for its products and services, is a key part of marketing them to the public. Some benefits of this branding include:
Establishes your identity: Through specific marketing and public relations campaigns, you can create and maintain a distinct public image. This brand identity is what the public associates with your company and its products.
Fosters customer loyalty: Customers may form a stronger bond with your products and services if they feel a sense of community, similar mission or product value. Effective branding can create customer attachments that go beyond the functional value provided by your products and services and may encourage purchasing in the future.
Informs and interests new customers: Your image can attract customers in a product discovery phase and interest them in considering your products or services. For example, a company that establishes eco-conscious branding in its products and manufacturing may achieve higher sales with consumers interested in conservation.
Inspires employee satisfaction: Using a brand to develop and maintain a positive company image can improve a company's work culture. This can help you attract better candidates and retain your good employees.
Types of brands
There are many types of brands you may choose to establish as a professional or an organization. Common branding types include:
Product: This is a brand based on an individual product offered by your company. Branding helps establish the product's value and set consumers' expectations.
Service: Similar to a product brand, a service brand is based on a service offered by your company. It creates the value for the service and sets consumers' expectations.
Organization: An organizational brand presents the image of a company. One company may also manage several organizational brands of various products and services, so they may have a parent company brand along with many subsidiary brands.
Personal: An individual may also have their own brand. This is relevant if your position within an organization is public-facing, and you're a well-known figure.
Event: The branding for an event conveys important information to consumers about the event, the atmosphere at the event and the people who may be interested.
Geographic: A geographic brand seeks to associate the brand identity with a region, the people who live there or the type of events and activities associated with the region.
Emotional: A company may use an emotional brand to associate the company, the products or services they offer with a particular feeling, such as a jewelry company that relates their products to feelings of love.
Private-Label: A private-label branding strategy seeks to present a brand identity as an elite option for individuals with selective taste. This brand offers an exclusive option that appeals to consumers who want to be a part of an elite group.
How to establish a brand
If you're working to develop a brand within your company, follow these steps:
1. Research your market
When creating a brand for your company or one of its products and services, it's beneficial to understand your industry, market and target customers. Your market research may include both an analysis of the consumer base and an analysis of the behaviors of any competitors within the market. Research can help you generate representations of your customers, known as avatars. Many companies choose to use multiple avatars to represent the different customer groups when planning their marketing and branding.
Related: 4 Steps To Building a Brand
2. Analyze your product
Next, it's important to analyze and understand the benefits and quality of your product or service. Identifying these benefits can allow you to incorporate them into your product's branding. For example, a company that creates a durable sports product may choose to brand it as an option for those who enjoy adventurous outdoor experiences. When analyzing your products and services, it can be beneficial to consider both your strengths and weaknesses to help you choose an effective branding strategy.
3. Set your goals
Decide what your goal is when creating a brand for your company, your products or services. For example, one company may aim to position itself as an exclusive industry option, while another may seek to increase mass sales. Knowing your goal can guide your branding plans.
4. Choose branding identities
Using the information you gathered during your research and planning, you can generate your company's branding identity. You may use high detail in your branding, or you may use a broad approach. Decide on the key factors you want people to consider when thinking of your company, and market your branding with this focus.
5. Test your branding
Testing your branding during the developmental phase allows you to receive feedback on its effectiveness before committing to a public branding strategy. Options for testing the efficacy of your branding include focus groups and surveys for individuals presented with examples of your new branding plan. This can help you identify how to improve your methods or strategy. It can also highlight areas of strength that should be modeled or repeated.
6. Create policies
Creating a formal branding guide for your company helps your employees remain consistent with the company or product brand when working on projects. Branding policies can provide a source of reference for employees to consult when they have questions about uniformity. It also allows them to compare their final products to the expected branding policies prior to submission, which can help to make your development process more efficient and productive.
7. Monitor and adjust
Even after comprehensively pre-testing your branding, you may continue to identify potential improvements to your marketing plans. Set up methods of gaining public feedback after launching your branding efforts so you can gain access to the full public response to your branding. Public opinion can highlight your strengths and give voice to issues that were forgotten or not emphasized. Following feedback can allow you to make more informed decisions about branding choices and adjust your branding strategy to improve its effectiveness.
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