I often see various people on social media groups who are new to marketing, people starting a freelance career, or people starting a business and all of them ask the same line of questions.
The who-what-when-where-why-how of marketing.
These are all valid questions, and I understand that people shifting into marketing are unfamiliar where to start. And I’m glad that there are people in these communities who help and guide these newbies with all their concerns.
However, I feel like there is a topic that is frequently overlooked. And in my opinion, this should be the foundation of all our marketing efforts. It’s called “Branding”. And believe it or not, having a branding strategy is vital for any business.
When you hear the names Apple, Coca Cola, Nike or McDonald’s what comes to mind? Did you think about the products or services they offer? Did you think about an experience you had with them? Did a person, commercial, piece of advertising or a specific color come to mind?
If you associated a combination of elements, a color, a product, an experience or an identity to any one of those businesses, you have an idea of what a brand is.
History of branding
The term Brand derives from the Old Norse word brandr or “to burn,” and refers to the practice of branding livestock, which dates back more than 4,000 years to the Indus Valley.
Cattle owners would brand their mark or name into their cattle. This would help them tell one cattle from another.
Branding evolved and eventually this method of distinguishing the maker of a particular product became important when a craftsman or producer would want their goods to stick out on a store shelf. They would put their name, logo or signature on it.
As time passes, consumers would come to know and trust a producer’s product over another.
Today, a brand is much more than a product with a name on it.
“A brand as the intangible, sum of a product’s attributes, its name, packaging and price, its history, its reputation, and the way it’s advertised”
– David Ogilvy, the father of advertising
And that’s exactly what brand is, a summation of attributes associated with the business that make up an experience about that business. A brand can consist of the products or services it offers, a brand is the feeling you get when you step into that business’s location or log on to their website, their logo and the colors or images they use, the words they use and the voice in which they communicate, the stories they tell about what they do, the principles or the values they stand by, the connection they make and how it makes the consumer feel in relationship to them.
Ultimately, creating a brand is creating a personality or identity for your business that differentiates you from your competitors in the marketplace.
“Brand is a name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors”
-AMA, Keller (2013)
Why you should have a Brand
We as consumers may think to buy a product mainly on how it tastes, how it feels or what it does, but there’s a lot more association going on at a deeper, experiential level than we think. Let’s look at some of the reasons why you should have a brand,
Brands build trust. Brands tend to have a history connected with them. And people who had positive experience with a product or service will probably trust the brand as well.
You wouldn’t trust a condiment or a toothpaste, but you would trust Heinz or Del Monte, or Colgate because it’s quality consistency.
A brand connects through believes it communicates, and draws in customers who share the same beliefs. An example would be the global outdoor lifestyle brand – Timberland.
Timberland announced in 2019 a new commitment to plant 50 million trees around the world by 2025 as part of its pursuit of a greener future. This bold goal builds on Timberland’s longstanding commitment to make products responsibly, strengthen communities, and protect and enhance the outdoors.
Those who want to purchase apparel but also want to connect to a bigger story will be drawn to Timberland.
Brands are a signal to consumers about what they can expect from the product and who it belongs to. Disney is a great example. Disney is considered as one of the most recognizable brands in the world. Disney’s brand is so well known that if you see three interconnected black circles you probably think of Mickey Mouse.
But brand recognition does not only help big name companies. It can be as simple as knowing that a second location of your favorite restaurant will have the same quality, feel, products and services as the first.
Ease of selection
Brands also create an ease of selection for a consumer who has had positive interactions with that brand before. You may always buy Del Monte ketchup because it is a trusted brand, or you may always buy coffee from a local cafe because you grew up buying coffee there.
Branding benefits both the business and the consumer, and it takes the guesswork out of choosing a product on the consumer side and solidifies a returning customer for the business.
Consumers may want to be like the people that will typically use the brand because they want to signal that they have the values or lifestyle that a brand presents.
People may want to purchase Under Armour basketball shoes because they want to be like Steph Curry and revere his Christian values with Steph’s bible verse mantra printed in his signature shoe.
A brand nurtures loyalty that become sticky enough that your customers will follow you to new products and innovations. If your business decides to sell new products or offer new service, consumers will be more accepting of it’s release.
Reduces price sensitivity
Customers loyal to a brand may also have less pricing sensitivity as well. You see this with Starbucks. Even though their coffee costs 10 times more than a cup of Nescafe, loyal customers to the Starbucks brand will readily pay for their coffee.
A nutty twist to snacks
A very good example of a local business that happens to establish a strong brand is Nutty.SelectionsPH. Nutty Selections is a local seller of healthy snacks such as nuts, seeds, and dried berries.
Since most healthy products in the Philippines are costly, Nutty Selections’ aim is to promote a healthier lifestyle and snacks to each and every household at a much affordable price.
By sharing their customers nutty selection stories in their instagram account, the business fostered a connection with consumers wanting to live a healthy lifestyle. They also created loyal customers, that in turn, became brand ambassadors for their brand.
Every business is built on a foundation of values and meaning. Today, customers are seeking to engage with the brands they use, so it’s important to articulate what you stand for.
Start Marketing on Social Media
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