Read on to learn about what branding is, the importance of understanding your customers, and how branding sets the stage for effective marketing.
What is branding?
When most people think of branding, they think of a logo, a symbol, or a slogan that a company uses to stand out from its competitors. Branding, though, is actually much more than this. Branding is everything that your customer associates with your company’s name. Branding, in other words, expresses who you are as a company, and it expresses what you offer. Basically, branding can be thought of as the mental image of what your company represents to consumers.
What should your brand accomplish?
Branding is about more than convincing potential customers to choose you instead of your competitors – it is also about becoming thought of as the only solution to a specific need that your customers have.
Good branding will:
Why do you need to understand your customers to build a good brand?
To succeed in branding, you have to understand what your target market needs and what they want.
This means that your company’s brand strategies need to convey the same, integrated message at every point of public contact. A brand needs to tell consumers first what the company is and why it exists – but it also needs to hook in customers. It needs to convince consumers that are interested in the company’s reason-for-being that they might also like the company itself and want to buy its products or services.
Your brand doesn’t stay the same, but instead it evolves in response to consumer behavior. It is constantly changing based on everything that influences it as well as your customers. As consumers begin to identify with you, your brand takes on shape within their minds. It is built from their experiences and perceptions – some of which you can influence, and some of which you cannot.
Why is branding important to marketing?
In today’s online world, consumers are constantly bombarded by marketing pitches for different products, and they have quick and easy access to almost anything they could want. A strong brand could set you apart from your competitors in terms of what you are promising to your customers. Therefore, it is well worth the time and effort to dedicate yourself to researching, defining, and developing your brand.
Your brand is the foundation of your marketing communication – so it’s crucial to build a strong brand. Where branding is like a long-term, strategic plan, marketing can be thought of as tactics you use to attract customers to your brand. Brand acts as a guide for understanding why a business sets its particular goals. A clearly defined brand acts as the underlying blueprint for a marketing plan, so you can tailor your marketing to the overarching strategy defined by your brand.
While marketing is mostly important before a purchase, branding matters throughout the consumer’s experience. The effectiveness of your brand in building loyal customers depends on a range of long-term factors:
Keep in mind that a good brand creates loyal employees as well as loyal customers. A brand gives them an idea to represent and support, and it can also help them to understand the company’s purpose. In other words, branding is valuable not only for your company’s external perception, but also for its internal operation.
How can you tell if your brand supports your marketing?
Clearly, a strong brand is a crucial first step for good marketing. Ask yourself these questions to check if your brand is strong enough to work as a solid foundation for your marketing:
These questions should guide you in developing your brand. If you aren’t sure about the answers yet, don’t worry – that just means you need to spend more time researching, defining, and developing your brand. This will pay off again and again – with a strong brand, you’ll be well on the road to effective marketing!
There you have it folks!
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