Your brand is not what you think it is! It is what your customers think it is; its brand image, personality and its value to them.
I was lecturing at Miami University a while back on brand image and personality. These are two vital elements of branding. They need to be clear and consistently represented in all your communications.
If you’re having issues with your own brand in either of these areas, then you’ll find the following article both interesting and valuable.
Why We Buy Brands
According to Wikipedia, a brand is:
“a set of marketing and communications methods that help to distinguish a company from competition and create a lasting impression in the minds of customers.”
Although this definition in my opinion, is a little sterile for something as exciting as branding, I do like that it mentions customers. However, for me, a brand is created in both the minds and hearts of its customers.
There has been so much said about the importance of emotions and resonating with the customer, that we should no longer forget them. And this is where image and personality play vital roles. They are both more or less created in the heart, rather than in the mind of the customer.
We often buy brands without even knowing ourselves why we buy them. We can, of course, provide a clear, reasoned answer if asked, but explanations come from the mind. The heart is what makes us buy.
A brand is made up of a number of components, with which people learn to identify and recognise it. These include its logo, colour, pack, shape, taste, aroma, sounds and feel. There may also be other things which are directly associated with the brand, such as a celebrity, an event or a cause it supports.
A brand needs to have a clear image, personality and equity in the minds of its customers. These come as the result of these branding elements as well as the customer’s own personal experience with it.
All these factors must be respected in order to build a strong brand with which customers can identify themselves. If they’re not, then the brand is at risk of not developing correctly, or even worse, of becoming just a commodity.
It is vital for marketers to know and understand what their brand means to customers. Not just what it means for their organisation. And then, of course, to follow it over time through regular measurement.
Brand Image Essentials
A brand is associated with many statements or attributes. These are what current and potential customers think or feel about it. They may have resulted from exposure to its communications, as well as from their own personal experiences.
These elements are usually grouped into three types: the rational / functional benefits, the subjective / emotional elements and the cultural / relational factors.
The third group was added by David Armano of Edelman Digital almost ten years ago. I like his additional idea because the relationships a brand builds with its customers have become vitally important in today’s world of social media. Continue Reading