Branding is an integral part of the PR process and it gives a product its identity. I just got done consulting a client who had difficulty understanding branding. He wasn’t realizing that every product has an image behind it, and each brand carries a unique identity that consumers associate with. So in the spirit of knowledge I figured I would share some basics of branding with you.
Remember its importance. If you haven’t already initiated a brand for your company, now might be just the time. Use these simple techniques in the promotion of your special brand:
Make your brand as unique as possible.
Become distinguishable and powerful with one word, a color or an emotion. The shorter the better!
Narrow your brand’s focus. People want something narrow in scope that they can remember you by. Put your name on too much, and you lose your standing.
Develop your brand from a publicity point of view, like Anita Roddick did with k’s persistence in traveling the globe to advocate her ideas for the environment built The Body Shop into a major brand – no advertising necessary!
Once publicity jumpstarts your brand, incorporate advertising to maintain its healthy status.
Determine one word you want your brand to be known by, and make it synonymous in the mind of the consumer. E.g.: When we think overnight, FedEx overnight delivery comes to mind.
Distinguish yourself as a leader in some field. For example, look at brewing companies; There are a wealth of beers to choose from, but in a buyer’s mind, there may be only one leading beer, one leading light beer, one leading microbrew, one leading German beer…you get the hint.
Remember, quality is an important factor, but it’s the perception of your product that sells.
To become a leading brand, think ahead of the game and begin by promoting whatever it is you’re selling as a whole new category. I’m not talking pizza, or computers…a new category of an idea will work; For example, Domino’s promoted the new category of home delivery of your pizza in 30 minutes.
Name is key. It’s the name that will stick with you forever – what matters in the long run. In the beginning what’s important is a great idea, but when its uniqueness fades away, all people have left to remember you by is your name.
The law of extensions is a risky game to play. You risk becoming your own worst enemy by stealing business away from your original brand by subconsciously telling consumers your regular products are missing something; i.e., Does Heinz Light ketchup make you wonder how many calories are loaded in the regular? Does Campbell’s Healthy Request soup give you the impression their regular soup is unhealthy?
A little healthy competition is a good thing no matter the game, and in the context of branding, welcoming your competition is the best strategy.
Steer clear of generic brand names – You’ll
have a better chance differentiating yourself from your competition.
Set the brand name apart from the company name and let that be what your customers identify each particular product by.
Like line-extension, sub-branding can be just as tricky. It’s likely that what a customer associates with your core brand will associate with your sub-brand as well. For example, Holiday Inn’s Crowne Plaza is nice, but a little expensive for a Holiday Inn…results research produced and made the company change its way of marketing. From now on, the hotels are known as Crowne Plaza, no Holiday Inn attached.
When the time is right to launch a second brand, make sure it’s its own unique individual brand with its own identity. For example; the seven publications of Time Inc.: Time, Fortune, Life, Sports Illustrated, Money, People and Entertainment Weekly.
When it comes to designing a brand’s logo, keep your eyes on the shape. For optimal visual impact, logotype should lay horizontal, about 2 ¼ x 1.
When selecting a color for a brand, take your time and do your research. Keep in mind the mood or tone it will convey (e.g.: White-purity, black-luxury, blue-leadership, purple-royalty, green-environment and health). Be the opposite of your competitor. Select a color symbolic to the category of a brand.
What better way to grow than to grow global? But, remember, there is no such thing as a global brand with a global perception. Determine its geographic perception before making any quick decisions.
Building a brand takes time. Keep your brand short and simple, clear and narrow – Work limitation in with consistency to build it over time (not days, weeks nor years but decades).
Seldom and careful brand changes are the ones that work effectively. Any change you make will take place over an extended period of time and is going to transition itself in the mind of the consumer.
Don’t waste your money trying to keep an old brand alive. Once you get a good grasp on the nature of branding, you’ll know when it’s time to let an old brand go.
A brand is a simple, singular idea or notion inside the mind of the consumer – own it!