What is branding

What do you think of when you hear "Apple"? Probably not the healthy fruit, but the entertainment electronics. But not only that: Most likely, the thought not only creates a picture of a MacBook or iPhone in your mind's eye, but also other associations emerge: Perhaps you are thinking of Exclusivity, maybe on design, maybe an urban, young one Attitude to life

And that's exactly how it should be with a strong brand and theirs Branding be. Because this is not just the name of a company, but its identitythat our Experience with the corresponding products.

The perfect brand continuously conveys a certain image of what the unique benefits communicates the products and the added value they offer. If users remember a brand, they subconsciously build one emotional relationship that leads to the fact that your purchase decision repeatedly turns out to be in favor of the products of this brand.

In the following we explain to you what makes a strong brand and why Branding is important and how you can implement it for your own business.

What is a brand?

The term brand describes one or more characteristics that an organization claims for itself and communicates externally and internally in order to differentiate itself from other brands. A brand belongs to a Surname, one Tagline (for example “Just do it” at Nike) logo, a design and a certain tonality ("Brand Voice").

In addition, a brand also encompasses the overall experience a user has in the interaction with the company - be it as a customer, prospect, social media follower or casual passer-by.

But how is a brand created? Here comes this Branding in the game.

What is Branding?

Branding denotes the process of Research, development and application special properties on your own organization, so that consumers begin to associate your brand with the corresponding products or services.

It is Branding a circular process. By no means do you take on one-off considerations about your brand, which are then concluded after a defined time window and produced a final result. Rather, branding means increasing your own brand and its effect on the target group again and again questioning and adapt.

Why corporate branding is so important

A well-established brand is one of the most important resources a company owns. There are several reasons for this:

  • With a brand, companies can make your identity and make a name for yourself beyond the products or services offered. If the brand is strong enough, customers build an (emotional) connection with the company if they can recognize themselves in the lifestyle and values ​​that the brand conveys.
  • At the same time, the brand ensures that the organization is remembered by customers. Especially logo and Tagline should memorize a buyer and thus ensure that he can distinguish the organization from other companies right away. After all, if a customer has had a positive experience with the company, they can choose the brand more quickly for the next purchase.
  • A sophisticated brand also forms the basis for marketing and advertising. After all, all communications are based on the brand promise they are supposed to convey. In addition, a strong brand also paves the way for further marketing activities, as consumers already have a clear picture of the company and its products. The advertising then only has to remind the brand and, for example, associate a new product with the existing brand.
  • Ideally, a clearly defined brand reinforces that too Identification potential the employee with the company, its values ​​and interests ("Employer branding“).

How important Branding is, studies also show:

  • Consistent branding across all communication channels increases sales by an average of 23 percent.
  • 59 percent of buyers say they prefer to buy new products from brands they are familiar with.
  • The brand characteristics that are perceived as particularly important are trustworthiness, creativity and intelligence.
  • When asked to describe a brand to which they are loyal, respondents most often cite the keywords experience, quality, cost and consistency.
  • Around 65 percent state that they have already established an emotional bond with a brand.
  • Customers who have established an emotional relationship with a brand have three times higher lifetime value than those who do not have a corresponding brand loyalty. At the same time, they stay loyal to a brand longer and recommend it more often.

The most important branding terms

Creating a brand goes far beyond just defining a logo and the appropriate tagline. Significantly more processes and considerations should find their way into brand creation. The following terms give you an overview of the most important aspects of the Branding and show the great value that successful branding has for a company.

Brand Awareness: brand awareness

Brand awareness measures how familiar the general public and your target group are with your brand. Well-known and popular brands are known to the majority of the population, although it does not matter whether the products advertised are actually relevant to consumers.

For example, not every German will regularly consume gummy bears, but most of them will be familiar with the “Haribo” brand and its slogan “Haribo makes children happy and adults just as well”. So strong, well-thought-out branding can make your brand widely known.

The meaning of Brand awareness Obviously, people who don't know a brand are unlikely to consider buying their products either. If a grandfather is looking for sweets in the supermarket for his grandchildren's upcoming visit, he'll probably pick up a Haribo bag rather than a competitor he doesn't know.

Brand Extension: Brand Transfer

At the Brand transfer it's about expanding the brand to new products or entire markets in order to diversify product lines, open up new markets and thus generate additional sources of revenue. Under such Brand Extension For example, the introduction of Apple TV +, with which the tech group Apple becomes a streaming provider.

The advantage: Ideally, all positive ideas that potential customers associate with the brand are transferred to the new products, which makes their introduction much easier. However, here is a strong one Branding essential in advance. First of all, there must be a correspondingly consolidated image of the brand in people's heads and, secondly, it must be able to withstand the expansion to new products without being watered down.

Brand Identity: brand identity

The Brand identity is the core of a brand. It describes the values, attitudes and tangible advantages that consumers associate with your brand. It comes from the way you communicate your brand. The identity of your brand is closely related to the brand positioning. The focus is on the following questions: What does the product do for whom? What sets it apart from other competitors?

The brand identity fills your brand with life and ensures that it is more than just a logo. Customers can identify with it and are encouraged to bond.

Brand Management: Brand Management

At the Brand management it's about creating, introducing and maintaining a brand. It thus includes both the aspects that you as a company can directly influence (such as a suitable style guide or the color palette used) as well as points that you cannot control directly. This includes, in particular, the perception of the brand by the public.

A brand always has a certain life of its own that needs to be carefully maintained and handled. The clearer and stronger that Branding is operated, the easier it is to achieve targeted brand management.

Brand Recognition: Brand recognition value

Brand recognition goes one step further than pure brand awareness. This is not just about the number of people who have heard of the brand before, but how many people would recognize the brand - without reading the brand name. At this point, it's about how memorable a logo, tagline, jingle or packaging is and how closely they are associated with the brand.

The prime example in terms of things Brand recognition: Coke. 94 percent of the world's population recognize the red and white logo. A strong brand not only has a clear identity, but also communicates it coherently with memorable elements.

Brand Trust: brand trust

How much is recorded here trust Customers in your brand put. Are advertising promises kept? Are service and sales perceived as trying, attentive, informed and honest?

Gross mistakes and scandals can also damage strong brands, but established brands generally enjoy more leniency here. In 2019, Volkswagen proved to be the most trustworthy automobile brand in Germany for the 16th time in a row - despite the diesel scandal.

Brand Equity: brand equity

All of the aforementioned aspects determine the monetary value of a brand. A high level of awareness as well as a clear identity, good brand management and strong trust in the brand together increase the Brand equity. Apple, Google and Amazon also apply worldwide Brand Equities between $ 109 billion and $ 234 billion as the most valuable brands ever. The most valuable German brand is Mercedes ($ 50.8 billion).

How to create a brand

Now that it has become clear why Branding is essential for long-term corporate success, we will now look at what the process for defining or reinventing a brand should look like.

Define target group

The importance and influence of a brand arise from relationship between her and her customers: Because they are the ones who feel addressed by the brand, one emotional connection build up to her, her trust and stay true. For these effects to occur, however, the brand and the targeted customer group must be an optimal match. As a result, you need to know which audience you want to target before you can target a brand to them.

So analyze what your ideal customer should look like. That can best be done in the form of a Buyer Persona express. Imagine your target group as a concrete, fictional person and answer the following questions:

  • How old is your buyer persona?
  • Where does she live and with whom? Alone, with a partner or with children?
  • What job does she have and how much does she earn?
  • What is she interested in, what hobbies does she pursue and what values ​​does she represent?

At the same time, you can consider which archetype your buyer persona most closely corresponds to. This also helps to adapt the brand to its values, wishes and ideas.

How big they are Importance of the target group is for a brand, the example shows Dacia. A brand was created around the product positioning (a cheap SUV with few frills), which is essentially defined by its target group: "The status symbol for everyone who doesn't need a status symbol."

The meaning of target group for the brand also becomes clear when looking at different brands that sell very similar products:

Both Rolex and Swatch are established Swiss watch manufacturers with several decades of company history. Nevertheless, they present themselves completely differently and communicate fundamentally different Branded content.

Image: Swatch Instagram

Image: Rolex Instagram

No wonder, after all, both brands want to address fundamentally different target groups: Swatch is aimed at a young, sporty, urban target group whose attitude to life is reflected in the brand communication. Rolex, on the other hand, is a luxury brand that wants to convey exclusivity, success and quality to its customers.

Create corporate mission statement

The next step is to develop a corporate mission statement. This represents the Core values, Principles and the Self-image of a business.

Not only can employees orientate themselves to this model in their daily work, there are also employees Brand identity - because this must be able to be brought into line with the company's mission statement.

Conversely, with the help of the mission statement, it is also ensured that the entrepreneurial activities are in line with the Values fits that a brand conveys. The mission statement can usually be read on the website, but is also partly reflected in advertising slogans.

The baby food manufacturer HiPP emphasizes in its corporate philosophy, for example, sustainability in the areas of ecology, economy and social issues as well as an orientation towards Christian values. This mission statement is an essential part of the HiPP brand and is accordingly also reflected in communication. After all, every commercial that promises high quality and care for the child's well-being ends with the famous quote from CEO Claus Hipp: "This is what I stand for with my name."

Define values, characteristics and advantages

As a rule, your company is not alone in the market with its product range, but is confronted with a number of competitors. It is therefore important that your brand conveys what distinguishes it from the competition:

This shouldn't just be about concrete Product features (i.e. Unique Selling Propositions in the narrower sense), but rather about the values and qualitiesthat make your company unique. How do they help your customers succeed and improve their lives?

How exactly these distinguishing features are communicated is up to you. Some of them find their way into the Tagline, are in Values ​​content contributions themed or even represented by the brand name.

For example, the German cosmetics brand frei Öl, whose products are “free of unnecessary, skin-stressing and irritating ingredients”. The situation is similar with the share brand. Here, every purchase means that a product in the corresponding category is donated. This principle of solidarity sharing is reflected in the brand name.

Other companies take up the question of what sets them apart from the competition very explicitly and answer it on their website. For example, the IT consultancy MaibornWolff:

Image: MainbornWolff

Define visual trademarks

Now that the foundation has been laid, the implementation can begin: your brand should come to life. That comes first visual design. Because whether on social media, your own blog or in traditional advertising: All of these channels are visual media.

So develop a comprehensive one Corporate Design, included logo, Color palette, Fonts and other visual components. These pay especially in terms of Brand recognition out. The bitten apple, the golden M or four interlocking rings: you probably don't need more context to know which brands are meant.

Find Brand Voice

Now that the visual component is covered, it's time to look at your brand's voice: what would it sound like if you could have a conversation with it? What sounds abstract is a decisive factor in addressing your target group. Whether casual and young or serious and formal - the tonality Your communication has a decisive influence on the character of your brand.

Against this background, the decision should not be made in isolation. target group, identity, visual appearance and tonality of a brand must necessarily fit together in order to be able to pursue a clear positioning. It is accordingly important that the tonality once defined consistent is preserved across all communication channels. This is the only way to ensure that the image that consumers receive of your brand is consistent and unambiguous.

Start branding campaign

It's done: You have created a comprehensive brand concept that now needs to be implemented. And that is a complex challenge. Because the brand has to permeate every aspect of your corporate presence. Website, Social media profiles, packaging - everything is with the appropriate logo, the Colours and Fonts to be provided as well as in tonality and style adapt to the brand identity.Of course, every form of advertising must also be a reflection of the brand's character in order to bring it closer to the target group.

And finally: write him distribution and service. This step is often forgotten, but it is critical. Because all employees who are in direct customer contact should implement the guidelines of your brand in their dealings with customers. Because a strong brand impresses not only with a pretty design, but above all with a company that embodies the brand identity through its employees.

Branding Tips for Small Businesses

Especially small companies with limited resources perceive an extensive one Branding often as a hurdle. Even the implementation of small tips can significantly support you in building your own brand.

Build a strong image

No matter how well conceptualized and well thought out your brand is, if the communicated brand identity does not match the perception of the public, yours will Branding have limited success.

Nestlé's corporate philosophy, which is committed to sustainability, environmental protection and social justice, is unlikely to impress consumers as long as the food company is primarily associated with the privatization of drinking water and the deforestation of the rainforest for palm oil.

That is why your brand identity must by no means be paid lip service. Make every effort to live up to your values ​​and requirements for the company. This is how you build in strong, positive and authentic An image that matches your branding and thus supports your brand at the same time.

Uniformity in appearance

The biggest mistake you can make in building a brand is arguably Inconsistency. Because if you don't present your brand in the same way in every situation and across all channels, you confuse potential customers and prevent them from developing a clear, unambiguous image of your brand. This in turn is the prerequisite for your brand to be recognized and preferred to the competition.

Define branding strategy

The brand strategy goes beyond brand creation. She comes up with a plan concrete, long termdesigned goals that should be achieved over time with the help of a strong brand.

These goals usually relate to the intention and the purpose Your brand that Emotionswho are connected to her, flexibility, the awareness for your competition as well as the strong ones Inclusion Of your employees.

If you formulate such a strategy, it can help you to derive clear instructions for action from the abstract construct of your brand, which ideally lead to great visibility and success.

Do not imitate other brands

Of course, it is important that you analyze exactly what the Your competitors' brands matters. Of course, you can also be inspired by individual aspects of branding here and implement them in your own way. Under no circumstances should you give in to the temptation to imitate other brands. Because that harms you in two ways:

First, you are missing out on the chance entirely own story Your brand and theirs unique benefits to communicate. Second, that is true Branding to a large extent the Demarcation from competition.

But if your brands can hardly be distinguished from one another, the effect fizzles out and you forego your own, recognizable one Brand representation. Rather, it is new, unique and perhaps somewhat provocative brands that stick in the minds of the target group.

Recruiting with branding

A strong brand doesn't just help to sell your product. She also assists you with the recruitment new workers. Because the product brand and the employer brand are never independent of each other. Is your brand known in the sales market and enjoys a good one there? Image, there is a high probability that this will also attract new, highly skilled workers.

Conversely, scandals in dealing with employees also lead to a loss of general perception of your brand. You should therefore always see your brand as the foundation on which all corporate divisions rest, and use the strengths of yours Branding accordingly comprehensive.

Header image: aurielaki / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Originally published December 4, 2019, updated 03 July 2020

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