During my high school years, I wished I was more like the “cool kids.” They always seemed to have all the fun. I think teens go through a phase where they’re just searching for their self-identity and trying to fit in. When I tried to change who I hung out with and how I dressed to improve my cool factor some, it rarely worked.
The problem wasn’t that I couldn’t improve my lot in life. The reality was that I had academic skills, played sports, and participated in almost every club you could imagine.
The problem was my branding.
Up to that point in high school, I had spent years cultivating a personal brand of the smart “Asian guy” who hung out with the academic Illuminati, so switching gears to the cool, rebellious kids wasn’t going to work. No one accepted it. And, when you tried to rebrand yourself that way too long, the teachers either thought you were doing drugs or had a deep-seated personal issue. (Groan.)
Fortunately for me, and probably my parents, I discontinued that little branding experiment and got back on track.
Big companies are a lot like high schoolers wanting to fit in. Building a company brand is where the magic happens. The companies that are true to their brand tend to be more successful.
Everybody wants a good brand.
Every company wants to be publically known. They want to portray an image or persona in everyone’s minds, and they do that best when their company brand is on track. However, branding is more than just creating a logo or finding a slogan. It’s about uniting all branding efforts, both advertising and marketing, so that it all comes together naturally for consumers. It represents the sum of what your company is.
What is Branding?
Branding is about designing a visual identity for a company. It’s also about creating its personality and values. The process starts with a well-defined strategy and develops through a series of branding campaigns.
A branding strategy outlines who the company identifies with, what values it promotes, and how it approaches branding on an emotional level. On the other hand, a branding campaign refers to specific branding tactics like branding colors, logos, slogans, line extensions, etc.
The brand strategy is essential because companies can’t produce effective brand campaigns to grow without it. It’s like trying to make a building without a blueprint. Branding campaigns need to stay true to the company’s established brand perception. It’s all about creating a company persona that customers trust and eventually form relationships. There needs to be an emotional connection between the consumer and the product or service.
Contradictions in brand follow-through tend to make people feel betrayed. And, as a result, your customers will stop trusting your company’s goods or services.
A strong brand strategy doesn’t just make a company remembered in people’s minds; it gives a business identity, reliability, authority, notoriety, and power over the competition. Additionally, it puts businesses ahead of their competitors because branding increases sales through advertising and word-of-mouth marketing.
When done correctly, branding provides a business with the superpower to increase visibility and create recognition. A strong branding strategy makes consumers feel like they belong to your company’s community and feel like you’re talking directly to them. As a result, this connection contributes to sales because people like to buy products or services they can relate to. Branding’s ultimate superpower is customer loyalty. Brand loyalty is a win-win for marketing and advertising departments since repeat visitors increase sales.
Why Branding Never Ends
Even beyond high school, my personal brand was evolving. I dressed better and started acting a little more mature when needed. The academic brand I cultivated in high school allowed me to network and improved my collegiate experience, too. Businesses follow a similar path and evolve. They have to in order to meet the needs of their customers.
Unfortunately, branding isn’t a “once and done” thing. It’s a continual process. It’s an evolution of what the company is and will become. When it begins, branding needs management because it takes time to recognize a brand as something special. There’s also competition from similar products or services, which makes being unique very challenging.
Branding is hard to get right. Get help when you need it.
When I was greener professionally, my own personal branding occasionally failed. There were times when I simply screwed up or didn’t have the answers to move farther. That’s where colleagues, mentors, and business coaches helped to guide my efforts. Similarly, sometimes even big businesses need help.
Developing a good brand strategy can save your company a lot of time and money. However, it’s a continual process that needs a good foundation and proper management to evolve. Sometimes, having a third party that can view your business from outside the company produces better results and allows you to see things from outside the “company box.”
At Cooperata, we help clients with everything from brand strategy, brand campaigns, and development to creating the support pieces that help fulfill your brand’s promise. So if your brain is hurting trying to figure out the next branding steps, contact us about building a new brand or even rebranding a tired one. We can help.
Jonathon Cooper is owner and creative director of Cooperata LLC. He specializes in creating effective digital marketing and web solutions for websites using the WordPress blogging and CMS platform.