A brand is often thought of as the name of, logo for or symbols used by a business, product, service or person. But branding is actually much more than just the visual representation. A brand includes all the experiences consumers have with and perceptions they have of those companies, products, services or people.Logos
Certain images immediately bring to mind the brand associated with them. Do you know what each of these pictures represents?
What do the following words mean to you? Jell-O, Kleenex, Netflix? Are you imagining a bowl of colorful gelatin, a box of facial tissues and a red envelope with a DVD inside? If so it is because each of those words is a powerful brand name. Many brands further reinforce their name with their logo through the use of specific typeface and color. For example, Jell-O, Coca-Cola and Netflix use red. Google and eBay use multi-colors.Taglines and Slogans
1. All the news that's fit to print.
2. When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.
3. Have it your way.
4. The ultimate driving machine.
5. Finger lickin' good.
6. Let your fingers do the walking.
7. Just do it.
8. Good to the last drop.
9. Breakfast of champions.
10. Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.
11. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
12. Be all that you can be.
Each of these famous advertising slogans not only reminds you of the brand they are advertising but also some of the features, benefits, experiences or emotions associated with the brand.Brand Essence
This is the fundamental or core nature of the brand. It guides all marketing efforts in that it provides a consistent standard that consumers should expect to experience every time they interact with a brand. One of the simplest and clearest examples of a brand essence is Volvo's: safety. Whether you are viewing a television commercial about Volvo cars, entering a showroom for a test drive, checking out the features, noticing any price premiums versus similar cars, having yours repaired after an accident or contemplating whether or not you would purchase another one the value of safety should be communicated and experienced.Brand Experience
What is it like (or what would you imagine it would be like) to stay in a W hotel, a Sheraton, a Four Points, a Westin, a St. Regis or a Le Meridian? How would those experiences be similar and how would they be different? Where would you find each of these hotels? How much would it cost you to spend the night? What would you find on the room service menu, the in-room snack bar or on the cocktail menu in the bar or restaurant? What kind of merchandise would you find in the gift shop?
I imagine you would have a very different set of expectations for what you would expect to experience with each of those hotel brands. Each of those brands is owned by the same company: Starwood. Through the use of different brand names, logos, essences and other branding elements they are able to effectively market hotel, resort and meeting space a wide variety of market segments. The hipsters who want the club music in the elevators, a Bliss Spa and the condom kit in the mini-bar W boutique hotel experience are different than the seekers of the high end, 5 star, destination resort experience the St. Regis offers. Branding allows Starwood to offer each of those consumers the experience they prefer.Personal and Blog Branding
It is not just your business that can benefit from branding. You can as an individual, as a writer and as a blogger. In 1997 Tom Peters wrote a now-classic article for Fast Company magazine titled "The Brand Called You" in which he discussed how you can use branding principles to manage your career. James Patterson is a former advertising executive turned blockbuster best-selling author who has deftly used branding techniques to reach the top of the charts time after time. Broadly, Kalyn's Kitchen, The Pioneer Woman and Simply Recipes are three blogs that cover food. Yet each offers a clear, unique differentiated experience. You know what to expect when you visit those blogs because they are well branded.
Branding is a huge topic and I've given you a broad overview. Please chime in with questions or comments. I'd love to hear about your branding experiences or challenges, as well.Homework
Write a mission statement or brand essence. This can be for yourself, your blog, your business, a business you are dreaming of or an existing blog or business that is not your own just to get a feel for how to write one.Previous Chapters
Laura Lake at About.com Marketing: What is Branding and How Important is it to Your Marketing Strategy?
Dan Heath at Fast Company: How to Write a Mission Statement That Doesn't Suck
Image credit: New York Yankees logo
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