4 Areas You’d be Mad to Ignore in Your Branding Process
A good branding process isn’t like getting a new haircut. It’s the organisational equivalent of changing your name, buying a shiny new outfit and moving to a new town. You wouldn’t enter into that journey lightly in your own life (unless you’re on the run from the mob?), and you should take it just as seriously for your brand.
Brand equity is a currency that’s hard to build, and all too easy to devalue. But the power that positive brand image can build for your business is why understanding the right areas to focus on in your branding process is vital.
A branding process is about understanding and improving the fundamental way your brand is viewed by your audience. The classic example is adopting a new logo, but a comprehensive branding process goes far beyond the badge at the top of your departmental stationery. True branding goes to the very core of what and how you deliver your business. Here are some key areas to think about, and why they matter.
Reputation is the beating heart of positive brand image. Think of it as the conversation that your audience are having about you. Ensuring you have the right framework to build a positive brand image is an integral part of the branding process. That means laying out strategies for communication, managing expectations, and even setting out the tone of voice around interacting with your audience. But some of that is surely operational you say! Of course it is, branding isn’t just window dressing, it’s everything you do as a business.
Take the example of online reviews, the hotbed of digital reputation in today’s connected world. 93% of consumers say online reviews impact their purchasing decisions. In fact 68% of consumers are actually willing to pay more for a product or service that assures them of a better experience. That’s why understanding the importance of reputation has to be a consideration in any branding process.
Responsibility is the close cousin of reputation. It’s an increasingly important element of your branding process that feeds into the value of your wider brand equity. This goes beyond just the way people talk about you to the fundamental way that you act as an organisation. Being a responsible corporate citizen should be a core part of your business, and an essential part of your branding process and strategy, from environmental sustainability to support for social causes.
Consumers are increasingly influenced by the perceived positive social responsibility that a brand commits itself to uphold. A study undertaken in Malaysia in 2018 showed that corporate social responsibility had a significant impact on the purchasing habits of consumers. That means the more responsibly you are perceived to act with, the more rewarded you will be by your audience. And anyway, we all want to deliver a positive change to the world right?
What’s the point of a fantastic brand reputation if people don’t realise it’s you? You want to make sure your branding process differentiates you from the competition and presents a unique brand image that is instantly recognisable. Brand logos are the lynchpin of this area of the branding process, but so too are the ways you interact with your audience. Are you a down-to-earth clothes brand or a serious professional services firm? Incorporate what makes you unique to ensure you are uniquely identifiable for your audience.
It’s easy enough to see the value in brand recognition. Just think about the huge market for fake Rolex watches, or the multiple examples of brand mimicry in global markets. You only have to explore some of the billion dollar lawsuits for trademark infringement to see how seriously big brands take the idea of brand recognition.
A comprehensive branding process is essential for a successful business, but so is an effective product or service. This might sound strange in a discussion about branding, but it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that one of the biggest influences on your brand image is the quality of the product or service you provide. That needs to be something you build into your branding strategy, promoting and highlighting what it is you do well.
Let’s take a look at what many would (wrongly) argue as the most susceptible generation to the wow-factor of empty branding – Generation Z. A 2017 study of Generation Z purchasing decisions shows they are far more influenced by the price and quality of a good than they are by the fancy naming. It’s all well and good having a quirky name that sounds trendy in an advert, but if your product doesn’t deliver, you might as well be shouting at a wall.
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