What is branding?
Branding is the pathway, that is, the street or the highway chosen by an entrepreneur to travel the distance between the product and the brand.
Brands and branding are the most significant presents gifted by commerce to pop-culture. Branding has gone far beyond its strictly commercial origins, so that it now has immeasurable impact on both culture and society as a whole. Once upon a time, brands used to be just ordinary household goods: soap, tea, washing powder, shoe polish – ordinary and rather boring products made to be used and then replaced. In those times, the brand was a symbol of steadfastness. In an era of counterfeit products, when manufacturing quality was inconsistent and the price was variable, a brand equaled quality, quantity, and standard pricing. The brand’s image projected and sustained the product.
Nowadays, all of the above have gone through radical changes. Brands have earned their spot in the world. More often than not, we take the product’s functional attributes for granted, but while brands continue to be about mainly about image, now it’s more about our own image than the product’s.
Today branding is about engagement and association, about displaying the external and visible side of both private and personal affiliation. Branding allows us to define ourselves using visual shortcuts that are easy to read by those around us. Diesel, Adidas, and Nike all symbolize one kind of lifestyle; Hermes, Ralph Lauren and Ritz, another. You can combine and match them to adjust, amplify and underline or accentuate the perception you want to project about yourself.
Brands were created by marketing people working for large companies with the purpose of seducing clients, and selling products by creating and projecting colorful, albeit simple ideas, while also communicating these ideas in a clear and repetitive manner. Branding as a system was designed and defined by using modern communication techniques. But branding’s degree of success has outperformed the most ambitious dreams of its creators. Very broadly speaking, branding is a marketing technique which allows us to actively personalize a company itself through its products or services. This is the basic definition.
Branding helps your company be visible and attract the attention of your ideal customer. It’s what transforms a simple buyer into a loyal customer, and further, transforms an indifferent public into brand ambassadors.
Branding history goes back to the year 350 B.C. and is derived from the word “brandr,” which means “to burn” in ancient Northern dialects. Around the year 1500, it acquired the meaning of marking cattle for identifying them as belonging to their owner, and it was a type of harbinger of the modern logo.
Nevertheless, contemporary branding is much more than a simple logo. It has come to signify the intrinsic emotional reaction triggered by a company among its customer base and broader audience.
Your brand is a set of perceptions people have about your company. But branding is the set of actions you perform in order to develop and cultivate the brand. Consequently, it is a set of coherent and consistent actions you take in order to bring the promise of your brand into life. In other words, your brand is a noun, but branding is a verb. Designing a logo is branding. Developing the voice of a brand is branding. An advertising campaign is branding. Any action you take to develop your brand is, in short, branding.
When do you actually need a branding agency?
Branding is absolutely essential for a business due to the way it impacts your company. Your brand can facilitate new business opportunities and make your company more recognizable.
Why should you work with a branding agency? You should work with a branding agency in order to become more profitable, to be able to sell your goods and services for higher prices, and to increase the value of your brand. And to help you build a strategic and realistic perspective of your business. An agency has experience working with other industries, and can help you with new insights and information, offering you a different perspective.
If you are an entrepreneur, then you need branding agency when:
- you start asking questions, and neither you nor your employees can find the answers. Questions like the following:
- Name – is this a good one, or would another one be better?
- tagline – do I need one or not?
- Logo: is it better to have a logo with a symbol or without, in a warm or cold color?
- Photographic style – is it better to use industry photos or images that say something about my values, about the attributes of my business? When should I use one type of photos or another?
- Text – what kind of text should I write, inspired by storytelling or technical expertise?
- My competitors have organized a certain type of event – should I go ahead and organize a similar event myself?
- What kind of benefits have I received from my brand activation, does it help my image or my sales?
- What kind of campaign (image or sales targeted) should I use, and at what point in my brand’s lifecycle?
- When launching a brand, is it good to have street billboards, and what are their benefits?
- What mix of communication methods should I use, which online and offline choices should I choose?
- Is it important to invest in branding, and what are the advantages and benefits of the investment?
- when your intuition tells you something, but you are not certain it’s the right thing
- when your employees advise you to spend your budget on certain activations and you feel it was not useful on previous occasions
- when the market is in full swing
- when one of the PEST factors (political, economic, socio-cultural, technological) is having a totally different impact than before.
If you work in the Marketing department at a company, you need branding when:
- your management sets new and ambitious business targets
- an important competitor enters your market
- consumer habits change, like in the year 2020
- a new brand is added to your portfolio and its integration feels like a challenge
- you’re working on your marketing budget, and you don’t know what to allocate for branding or rebranding
When do you need rebranding services?
- You feel that you look too similar to everyone else in your industry.
- You want to access a new target segment in the market.
- Your brand has developed and evolved.
- Your brand is old-fashioned, outdated.
- Your brand doesn’t reflect your current values.
- You have gone through an image crisis.
- You merged with or were acquired by another company.
- You plan on exporting or opening stores abroad.
- You have entered a strategic partnership.
- You are going through a reorganization of brands that address different needs.
Why are branding services important for your business?
- Branding means recognition
The most important reason why branding is so important for a business is because this is how a company receives recognition and becomes known to consumers.
- Branding increases the value of your business
Branding is important while trying to expand your business. A strong and well-established brand can increase the value of a business and give your company an edge in terms of investment value.
- Branding generates new clients
A good brand attracts recommendations. In general, a strong brand means that the campaign has made a good impression on customers, and that it’s very likely they’ll buy it, recommend it to others, and return to purchase your product again.
- Branding creates trust in the market
A good image and a well-positioned brand helps your company be trustworthy in the eyes of employees, business partners, consumers, potential clients, current clients, and other stakeholders.
If you stay silent and don’t say something about yourself (your company, your product, your service), it is possible your competitors will say something not entirely to your benefit. So build your brand before others do it for you
The stages of the branding / rebranding process
Establishing mission, vision, and brand values
It all starts with the brand mission and values, they are the brain of the entire operation, if you will. The mission of the brand is a short, concise affirmation which defines the current state of your industry and the way in which your company makes it better through what it does. At the same time, the vision of the company is its heart. It offers a glimpse of the inspiration and motivation for your long-term goals. If your vision is about where you want to go, your mission is about how to get there. And your brand’s values are the brand’s convictions – what you believe in, how you behave, and the reason why your clients, who have the similar beliefs, have chosen you.
Creating a visual identity
With your mission, vision, and values in place, your visual identity represents the entirety of those graphic representations which express what a brand is and what differentiates it from all the others. In other words, it describes what clients can physically see, from website to brochures, from business cards to the interior design of your office or store, for example. It’s the most valuable type of visual communication your company can make. While a strong identity can help you establish a connection with your potential clients, an ineffective or weak identity can impair the experience they have with your brand.
Oftentimes, visual identity includes developing a brand manual, which offers substantial instructions about how the brand should be visually represented at any time and in every situation. It is easy to assume that just because an identity exists in the shape of a logo with colors and fonts, that it is probably enough.
Finding the right message
The right message refers simply to building the voice of a brand. The voice of a brand is what you say, and the tone of the brand is how you say it. While the voice remains consistent, the tone can vary depending on the target audience.
For instance, Nike is admired as a company for their tone of voice, which is always inspirational, positive, strong, motivational, and encouraging. It inspires customers not only to purchase sport clothing but also to run marathons. Apple’s coherent tone of voice conveys trust, quality, and exclusive privacy. Apple is a good example of pertinent inclusion. You feel good when you interact with the company’s messages, and when you use its products, you feel like a genuine star.
Cand avem nevoie de branding?
When do we need branding?
We need branding when we want to launch a new product on the market. Launching a new product can be easily compared with a first encounter between two strangers. As a rule, we introduce ourselves using our first name, last name, and a short story about us – where we are from, what we do, what are our likes and dislikes, what we want, etc.
In a similar manner, any new product needs a name, something visual, like a person’s face, to make it easier to recognize and remember, and a story about it which plays the same role. We are, in fact, talking about the visual identity of the new product: its name, logo, slogan, packaging, positioning, and its mission, vision, and values. All of those are needed because we as people are very visual. INOVEO has developed stories both for small brands and big brands.
While an already existing product has greater potential, a few years after being launched, some products may continue growing but not at the level we would desire.
Oftentimes what happens is that we launch a product the way we believed was better at the time. We have a quality product, and often much better than competing products. We launch it with minimal resources with help received from friends and family to come up with the name, logo, and website. The product is well received, but after a few years, we feel that something is not going quite like we had initially wanted. It’s like when you feel bad, but you don’t know what ails you. You then go to a doctor, and they start with your anamnesis. The doctor consults with you and asks all sorts of questions about your family history – about your childhood, your parents and grandparents, and then gives you a prescription for medication. Similar to that, any brand-related problems can have multiple causes. Maybe because a new competitor has entered the market and taken some of your clients away. Or perhaps you have some large clients with substantial advertising budgets who need branding services. Maybe you didn’t position your company well enough when you launched it, or perhaps you didn’t even launch it at all. Another cause might be the lack of correlation between pricing and product, or insufficient market penetration. When we’re talking about a mass-market product, the problems may be related to unattractive packaging or a lack of sufficient information for consumers. Maybe it’s about a wide range of products which were launched individually over a period of time brought on by the desire to respond to the needs of distributors or buyers, but which over time, have generated a degree of inefficiency. Or it might be two or more of these factors combined, or even situations very different from any of the above. For each of these, we are able to recommend a personalized prescription adapted to the particulars of each situation. INOVEO has worked on such projects on behalf of both small and big brands. Most of the time, these situations can be successfully dealt with using rebranding or brand management
Acquisition or merging of companies
When two or more companies merge we have a situation that closely resembles a marriage. One of them will take on the name of the other, or they might continue using their previous names respectively, or they might choose a new name altogether. It very much depends on the context and situation. When Piraeus Bank was acquired by the J. C. Flowers investment group, the bank went through an extensive rebranding process. The newly-formed entity received a new name, FIRST BANK. And it also received a new visual identity which included a new logo, brand manifestation, a new look for its agencies, branches, and ATMs, and a new voice and new brand for both domestic and international audiences.
When two companies merge, creating a pleasant atmosphere and fostering good internal communication with employees is a must
When OMV Group and Petrom merged, the management decided to move all of the employees into one single building. To facilitate the transition from the previous headquarters to their new location, INOVEO was hired to identify various elements of interior design which signaled the values of the new organization and simultaneously made the transition into the new building easier. Employees are one of the most important factors in developing any business. If they feel good and enjoy working, then all of the business parameters will rise much easier
A brand needs to be well known in order to perform well
If you have a musical genius at home who plays the piano perfectly in class or at home, he’ll remain a genius for a limited circle of acquaintances and friends. However, if he has a concert at the Romanian Atheneum in Bucharest or Musikverein Concert Hall in Vienna, then it will be a totally different story. Many Romanian companies launch in the market and after a few years feel their performance has stagnated. Many of them battle fierce competitors who invest massively in advertising. Others battle brands which are globally recognized. It doesn’t mean their brand cannot find its own place in the market, but the important thing is to get out in the open and tell your story in order to heard by as many people as possible. Launching your communication means taking a step forward bringing you closer to your customer. When I say “good afternoon,” to someone, more often than not, I’ll get a response. But if I stay silent, I’ll pass by others unnoticed. The same happens with brands. The ones which attempt to communicate with their audience have more chances of succeeding. However, communicating here doesn’t mean something done sporadically or in an opportunistic manner. It needs careful analysis and sending the right message to the desired audience. And the media channel plays an important role as well because it has to be chosen carefully, taking into account the stage in the lifecycle of the brand and the company’s financial resources.
When brands are imported
The company importing the goods is often faced with a dilemma: “Should I invest in a brand I don’t own? What if I lose my right of exclusivity in the market? Will my investment be in vain?” One solution would be to build your own brand, that which belongs to you, and enjoy all the rights that go with it. Such a brand can grow rapidly by transferring brand capital from the imported brand managed by your company to your own brand that you are getting ready to launch. One such case study is Final Distribution, a company from the construction industry which imports the roof brand Gerard, the coverings brand Delta, and the attic windows brand Keylite, and which developed its own brand, Novatik. It’s important to invest wisely in your company’s image, not only because this is the interface which connects you with distributors and customers, but also because the international brand owner might want to acquire your company if it’s well positioned in the market. The better your image, the more valuable your company becomes.