Debunking the Branding Stereotype

Whether you work in the communications field or not, you’ve probably heard the term “brand” or “branding” thrown around before. People have a misconception that the term “brand” is a singular thing such as a company, corporate identity, service or product. With so many different interpretations, it’s no wonder there is confusion about what a brand really is. In order to help your business better define your brand, I’ve put together a list of 5 misconceptions about branding:

1. A brand is just a logo or a company’s identity

A company’s logo and corporate identity may play a huge role in forming its look and feel, but that is only one aspect of a brand. Gone are the days when a brand is simply the mark you put on your company’s letterhead or the pattern you put on your marketing collateral.

Your logo and corporate identity are expressions of your brand. They put an emotional, visual element to the values and foundation of your company. But in truth, your brand extends far beyond the visual components. Branding is rooted in your company’s foundation, values, mission, experiences, and so much more. In fact, branding touches every aspect of your company.

2. Branding doesn’t matter for small businesses

Most businesses, in some capacity, aim to drive in customers and ultimately make a profit. In order to do this, you must create awareness for your company and the products/services you offer. Your brand not only informs your customers about who you are and what you do, but it provides a way for you to distinguish yourself from all of your competitors – large and small.

In addition, one of the biggest ways that businesses bring in revenue is through recurring purchases. Building your brand and creating consistent experiences increases customer loyalty. When consumers experience these reliable interactions, it creates a positive association with your brand. Consumers continue to come back because your brand repeatedly meets their expectations.

3. My brand doesn’t matter in my industry

Even if you’re in a B2B industry or your company works in a less ‘flashy’ industry, your brand still matters. In general, people trust strong brands. This includes consumers as well as the decision makers in B2B markets.

Think about it. Would you feel more comfortable making a business deal with a brand you know is reliable? Or would you rather make a business deal with a company you don’t know a single thing about? Having a strong brand helps eliminate buyers’ hesitation, which is something that affects every industry.

4. Branding is a one-time investment

It takes a large amount of initial planning to form your brand. However, once you’ve determined the foundation of your company’s brand, you can’t simply just put it out there and forget about it. Having a strong brand requires taking the time to continually manage it. This means you need to ensure that everything from your company’s messaging to aesthetics and experiences are always consistent.

In its simplest form, repetition of consistent experiences is what makes or breaks a brand. When your company claims to be something and then doesn’t back that claim, consumers begin to distrust you. In fact, a bad customer experience will cause 65% of consumers to cut ties with a company (Third Angle). This is why it’s extremely important to make sure your company’s brand is always represented accurately through all channels.

5. Branding is a lesser priority because it doesn’t create tangible value

Branding, like most creative, is a difficult service to put direct numbers to. However, this doesn’t mean it should be left as a “someday we’ll get to it” task. Nike’s “Just Do It” brand campaign is a good example of how branding can, in fact, create tangible value. In the first 10 years of launching the campaign, Nike increased its market share of the “domestic sport-shoe business” from 18% ($877 million) to 43% ($9.2 billion)(CFAR). While good branding may not produce immediate results, it definitely shouldn’t be tossed aside.

Branding is immersed in so many aspects of your company. Not only does your brand affect the marketing department, but it guides everything from the decisions your CEO makes to the level of quality put into your company’s products and services. When we look at branding from this perspective, we see that it is at the very heart of every organization. Choosing to neglect your brand could actually hurt your company in the long-run.

Now that we’ve cleared up a few common misconceptions of branding, take a look at your company’s brand and see where inconsistencies lie. If you can see your brand in your company’s values, identity, experiences, partnerships, and decisions, then you’re halfway there. Now you’ve got to maintain it!

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