What Is Branding?

Unsure about the meaning of “branding”? Don’t worry! Branding is one of those marketing concepts that is a bit vague and can quickly become confusing, even for people who have studied marketing.

Today we are going to take a look at “what is branding” and try to provide a clear answer with simple words and examples!

In order to understand the concept of branding, first we need to know what products and brands are. Let’s go!

Product definition:

“Broadly, a product is anything that can be offered to a market to satisfy a want or need, including physical goods, services, experiences, events, persons, places, properties, organizations, information, and ideas” (Kotler & Keller, 2015).

This means that a product can be anything from a hotel stay, a flight, a language course, to clothes, food, a toothbrush etc.

Brand definition:

“A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers” (American Marketing Association).

You can consider a brand as the idea or image people have in mind when thinking about specific products, services and activities of a company, both in a practical (e.g. “the shoe is light-weight”) and emotional way (e.g. “the shoe makes me feel powerful”). It is therefore not just the physical features that create a brand but also the feelings that consumers develop towards the company or its product. This combination of physical and emotional cues is triggered when exposed to the name, the logo, the visual identity, or even the message communicated.

A product can be easily copied by other players in a market, but a brand will always be unique. For example, Pepsi and Coca-Cola taste very similar, however for some reason, some people feel more connected to Coca-Cola, others to Pepsi

Branding definition:

What is it?

“Branding is endowing products and services with the power of a brand” (Kotler & Keller, 2015)

Branding is the process of giving a meaning to specific organization, company, products or services by creating and shaping a brand in consumers’ minds. It is a strategy designed by organizations to help people to quickly identify and experience their brand, and give them a reason to choose their products over the competition’s, by clarifying what this particular brand is and is not.

The objective is to attract and retain loyal customers and other stakeholders by delivering a product that is always aligned with what the brand promises.

Who does it affect?

  1. Consumers: As discussed above, a brand provides consumers with a decision-making-shortcut when feeling indecisive about the same product from different companies.
  2. Employees/shareholders/third-parties: Besides helping consumers to distinguish similar products, successful branding strategies are also adding to a company’s reputation. This asset can affect a range of people, from consumers to employees, investors, shareholders, providers, and distributors. As an example, if you don’t like or don’t feel connected to a brand, you would probably not want to work for it. However, if you feel like the brand understands you and offers products that inspire you, you would probably desire to work for it and be part of its world.

How can it be done?

Companies tend to use different tools to create and shape a brand. For example, branding can be achieved through:

  • Brand definition: purpose, values, promise
  • Brand positioning statement
  • Brand identity: name, tone of voice, visual identity design (which includes the logo design, color palette, typographies…)
  • Advertising and communications: TV, radio, magazines, outdoor ads, website, mobile apps…
  • Sponsoring and partnerships
  • Product and packaging design
  • In-store experience
  • Workspace experience and management style
  • Customer service
  • Pricing strategy
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