Perhaps one of the most misunderstood terms in marketing is “branding.” It is virtually impossible to talk to a marketing or PR professional without the term coming up. Everybody wants to “do” branding, but few truly understand the term.
First, let’s define what branding really is. In the classic sense, the branding of a product or company simply means that your target audiences know who you are and what to expect if they buy your product or do business with your company. In other words, you don’t have to explain your product or company over and over again.
When millions of people worldwide see the Pepsi logo, they know exactly what they will get if they buy a Pepsi. Pepsi Corp. doesn’t have to explain to each and every customer what a Pepsi tastes like. People know because they know the brand, a brand that has been promoted for many years and with many millions of advertising and marketing dollars.
The same is true for numerous other large corporations that have invested time and money communicating what their product(s) or company are, what they stands for, and what the customers’ experience will be if they purchase their product. They are their brand, and they stand for it.
But what about the 99% of companies that haven’t been in business for decades and don’t have millions of dollars to invest in promoting their brand? Can they also establish a brand that customers come to know and love, or is it just for large corporations?
The answer is that yes, effective branding can be realized by small or medium size companies if done correctly. Here are some tips on how to establish a branding campaign:
· Define your product’s strengths. What makes your product or service unique and better than your competition?
· Translate your strengths into a message. This can be both textual and visual.
· Define your target audiences. Most companies and products are not meant for everyone. You will save much time and money if you speak to those most likely to need and want your product or service.
· Create a communications, marketing and PR campaign that focuses on your strengths and your key message points. Stay on message and keep focused.
· Listen to your customers. Elicit feedback and adjust your marketing and PR campaign accordingly.
Remember, the key to branding is consistency. If you tired of your logo and your message and keep changing it every few years, that only hurts your branding campaign.
We’re all competing for the public’s attention and people will only remember something they see and hear many times over.
Create your brand, get it out there, and stick with it.