What Do We Mean by Brand?
Brand building has been an important initiative undertaken by businesses these days to make their offerings standout against the fierce competition in the current globalization era.
A brand is the perception of an organisation and its products and services. It stays alive in the minds of customers in the form of a logo, trademark, tagline or a symbol. Brand enables them to distinguish the product/service from the competitors.
In simple terms, if you are able to identify any logo, or a product without reading its name, then you know what a brand is. Once a consumer can distinguish it from other products, the consumer has perceived a unique brand in his mind. It is an image in the consumers' eyes, an impression that emerges as they hear a name or see any product.
The brand is a story that activates the connection of consumers with the company. This story and connection make a mere product or service a brand. The link evokes emotions, memories and ultimately becomes real, more relatable to the consumers. It makes consumers brand loyal towards the company.
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How Did the word ‘Brand’ Come into Existence?
Brand is actually one of the few words which is overused and yet misunderstood. To know precisely what a brand means, let us try to rewind the past.
The first use of the word Brand was given to a specific product. Use of this word was similar to the word ‘trademark’. Centuries ago, cattle ranchers used icons to identify their own livestock from others. Because of these icons, it was easy to locate the ranches to which the livestock belonged in the slaughterhouses. Slowly, in the 19th century, manufacturers and producers started to imprint a distinctive mark on their packaged goods.
Be it food and beverages or medicines or clothes; every manufactured product started getting labelled.
One such example is Coca-Cola company. In the late 1880s, many soda drinks already existed in the market. So, to stand out in the market and to help consumers identify the product, Coca-Cola brand with a distinct logo and packaging came into existence. People started to recognise that a caramel colored soda drink is Coke, a non-generic product.
A non-generic product is a type of product that resonates with its name.
When Baby Boomers were growing in the USA, marketers started targeting households widely. With impactful advertising, marketers realized that they could create a perception in the consumers' mind.
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Why are Brands Important?
Brands are significant from company’s marketing standpoint as they aid businesses in connecting with the consumer base. There is always an emotional satisfaction quotient because of which consumers buy similar brands time and again, and they develop a unique relationship with it. The brand evokes feelings of trust and confidence. They make their consumers feel proud about being associated with them.
Similarly, there can be some brands that consumers are reluctant to buy because they don't connect with them or identify with them. BMW connects with the customers for its sleek designs and uncompromising performance. Besides, consumers are fond of Apple’s logo and product for being minimalistic and innovative.
The reason these brands are important to consumers is because perception is a powerful process.
Unconsciously we allow our perceptions to be shaped in order to connect in a more meaningful or rational way. Also, as long as our brain is concerned, it cannot differentiate between what is real and what it perceives. So, with branding, customers' perception is changed to shape reality effectively.
By shaping perception, brands influence consumer behaviour in remarkable ways. Compelling stories, carefully narrated touchpoints, and stimulating visuals are the mediums to influence consumer minds in a slow but a steady process.
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How to Create A Brand in Today's Competitive World?
Today, the market is ever-changing amid globalization. The competition has increased more than ever before. If a company comes up with one unique product, within a few weeks, the competitor will come up with a similar offering at a lower price with better quality.In times like these, the need for marketing has grown multifold.
Companies are developing strategies to increase market share and increase client base. The customers have also evolved in terms of their tastes, preferences, awareness and knowledge given the digital era we all live in. People are now well-travelled and well-read. They are aware of various products, significance of quality and competitive products available in the market. They now value convenience, quality, benefits and customer service, somewhat more than prices.
Brand awareness initiatives play an important role to sustain healthy relationship with consumers over a long term.
Marketers strive to come up with innovative ways to build a unique and innovative brand to influence consumers and drive their purchase decisions. Decades back, just a logo or a name was enough to induce a purchase behavior. Today even the unique value proposition may not be enough.
For instance, let us consider a toothpaste product. One company will advertise salt in the product, one will promote it as sodium, and other will confuse the customer even more with potassium chloride in the product.
They all promote products differently, but the truth is, it may have have poor recall and low recognition of the product because all of them are talking the same language. When a customer sees all 5h3 three brands on the store shelf, they will choose the brand they connect within their mind.
Hence, creating a successful brand involves communicating the story consistently and strongly, establishing unique footing amid the competition and targeting the right customer base basis their tastes and preferences.
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What Transforms a Company into a Brand?
Creating a strong brand is a long and tedious process. Healthy identity is converted into an instantly recognizable brand. When consumers notice distinct features about the product, they connect with the message and are emotionally engaged. As a result, the brand is retained in their mind. Below are some of the success mantras on creating an attractive brand:
- Distinctive: Standing out from the competitors and staying in the mind of consumers with a strong and unique logo, trademark, symbol or a tagline plays an important role in brand building.
- Authentic and business ethics: Studies have shown that the brands which accurately and authentically represent their mission, vision, & core values can connect more with consumers. Authenticity is important more than ever before, as there are tons of brands in the market offering similar products.
- Memorable: Brands with easy names which can be easily pronounced, spelt and searched online, are easy to remember.
- Reputation: Brand reputation can be built and destroyed. So, it is a critical aspect brand always consider.
- Brand Marketing: Marketing the brand over different platforms, sponsored events, print and electronic media, hoardings and launch events are some of the crucial ways of sharing the brand with the customers and enhancing long term relationship.