What is branding?

Written by: Sophie Droysen Date: October 24, 2019

Our company has recently undergone a make-over, which has prompted us to write this article. Rebrands occur for many different reason and most of the time it is just a matter of going with the times. Brand identity is a crucial part of branding but it is only one of many. To develop a brand you have to know what plays into branding and how does it affect your costumers. So what is branding?  

What is branding?

The word “branding” is described as followed by businessdictionary.com: The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers. In easier words, branding is the creation of everything a company displays to the world; their name, logo, website, social media accounts, adverts as well as the image customers have of your company. It’s their personal signature that will help them be remembered in their clients minds. All these things contribute to creating a feeling that represents the companies values and message which is what will get customers to buy into it or not. While this might be a great description it doesn’t really provide answers as to what to do when you’re thinking of branding. That's one of the reasons why companies choose to work with agencies to plan their branding strategy and design their brand identity To answer the question “what is branding?” we have to look at the parts that contribute towards it: 
  • Brand Image
  • Brand Identity
  • Brand Personality
  • Brand Communication
  • Brand Positioning
  • Brand Differentiation
  • Brand Experience
In this blogpost we will be looking further into brand image, identity, personality and communication.  

Brand Image

A brands image is what customers think of when they hear your brands name and how they talk about your brand with other people or online, it is essentially the image they create of your brand in their minds.  

Brand Identity

Your brands identity is the total of your design assets such as your name, logo, slogan, colour scheme and website. It is the way you present your business to the world. The aim is to clearly communicate your brands values and message.  

Brand Personality

A brands personality is the emotions, qualities and traits associated with your brand. Like any human being, brands develop characteristics to underline who they are as a business and what their values and message are. This creates lasting relationships with customers.  

Brand Communication

A brand communication strategy should be created after the other three factors are in place. It determines how your brand should talk to its customers, based on your brands values and message and the expectations customers have built because of your brand identity, image and personality. It will also determine which mediums are the best ones to reach your target audience, e.g. social media, newspapers and magazines or tv, and which formats work best for them, these could be videos, articles or simply social media posts.  

Creating and communicating a message and values

This step seems quite hard to start with because it’s not always obvious, unless it is a company that solely exists because of their values, like charities and non profit organisations.  There are two steps of looking at this question to get an answer out of it: 
  1. What are my own personal beliefs and how can I incorporate them into my business? And 
  2. What are my target audiences core values and how can I match them in a way that will make them relate to me? 
  The first step focuses on creating a message that you want to convey to the world to find people who can relate to it. The second step focuses on your target audience, who they are, what they do, what they believe in. Gather as much information about them as possible until you know who they are. Then think of a tone that would appeal to them. The tone and feeling that you choose to convey in your campaigns and across your social media channels will determine whether or not they will buy your products. If they don’t feel like a company understands them and their needs they will be less likely to purchase even if your deal is better than your competitors. Your values have to resonate with your target audience.   There are a lot of reasons why businesses rebrand and most of the time a complete rebrand isn't necessary and you merely have to tweak some parts of your branding. One common reason would be that your target audience doesn't feel like they can relate to your brand anymore, whether that's because your brand image changed or because your communication doesn't perfectly convey your values and message anymore. This will have an impact on your customers purchase behaviour, their loyalty and ultimately the company’s sales figures. To regain their trust and their buying power they need to create a new message to convey or formulate and communicate the existing message clearer. Changing the name, logo and website isn’t always necessary in this case. What is important is creating campaigns that will make your target audience feel understood again.   
  Diesel have recently launched a new campaign that is generated to a new target audience. Their usual customers are baby boomers, who have a steady income and can afford to buy higher quality and designer products. Diesel’s FW 19 Campaign is titled “Enjoy before returning” and shows Millennials going out in their Diesel outfits, with every item of clothing still having a price tag on them. Buying, wearing and returning clothes is a common concept that a lot of millennials know, especially since the rise of social media channels and influencers, as they usually don’t have as much money to spend. Diesel is tapping into exactly that mindset and have created a fitting ad that portrays young adults as carefree and life loving individuals who want to have fun without worrying about money. This resonates with a whole generation and has given the brand a fresher, younger feel rather than being associated with your dad’s wardrobe.   

The design process

The first thing that comes to mind when being asked, “What is branding?” is a company's logo. A logo should be memorable and should align with the message a company is sending out. To master any part of the design process you need to think of that message constantly. If your brand is a startup that works in the digital market and is targeting teenagers, young adults and the baby boomer generation its logo needs to feel young, modern and fresh. Choosing a font and colour is very important here, they need to be perceived as modern and fresh in order for the feel of your brand to align with your design.  The same rules apply for any industry. If your business is selling kids toys your logo should be fun and playful, if you’re in the medical industry you’ll want your logo to be perceived as serious and trustworthy so you’ll probably choose a more classic or timeless font and muted colours rather than bright colours and a bold font.  The whole design process is about perception so keep asking yourself, how are my customers going to perceive this?  

Social Media as a tool for brand communication

Social media is the best and easiest way to bring your message across, creating a social media strategy that will help you succeed is therefore essential. Taking an example from the music industry this time, we’ll have a look at Lewis Capaldi’s instagram account.  He has portrayed himself as a funny guy, who’s a bit weird but all in all loveable through funny pictures and videos of himself. This has massively contributed to him knocking Ed Sheeran off his number 1 position in the charts and helped him remain there for multiple weeks. Fast forward a couple of months and he has now become an incredibly successful popstar with a number 1 debut album, which went on to become the best selling album in the UK in 5 years. You could argue that his success is purely down to a good management and pr team but I believe he wouldn’t have gotten this far without his own branding on social media.  He has tapped into a cultural phenomenon that hasn’t been touched by any artist before - the meme. Whether or not this was intentional doesn’t matter but what is fascinating is that regardless of his international fame he has continued (and has been allowed to continue by his management) to upload these videos and become a living meme because it is what he has become known as so he needs to continue putting that message out in order to keep making profit. And that essentially is branding.  Branding doesn’t stop once your name has been chosen and your design elements are finished. It is the continued effort of putting a message into the world in order for customers to get to know who you are, what you stand for and hopefully build lasting relationships.   

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