Branding - more than a logo

Written by Monica McInnes.

Back in the olden days, before computers and mobile phones, branding referred to that stamp you marked your cattle with, but today it is much more than a stamp on your business and the colours you use.

The video above really illustrates how profound and multifaceted a brand can be in the minds of customers and potential customers.

At the very basic level, all businesses will have a brand consisting of one or more of the following – name, sign, symbol or design to differentiate themselves from their competitors. These are the tangible assets of a brand – what people can see, and touch.

But at its root, branding is much more intangible, and often very difficult to describe. Essentially, how a business acts and what it says builds an identity in the minds of its customers and potential customers. Branding is a business identity and personality. It is how people feel and think about a business. If people feel good about the business, they will return and possibly tell their friend about it. But if they have a bad experience, they probably won't return and will more than likely tell their friends, possibly even on social media. Branding can help build a strong reputation. Conversely, if a business does something illegal or has some bad dealings, its reputation and brand could fall into disrepair.

So, how do you build a strong and reputable brand for your business?

Put simply – you need to be authentic.

• You need to be authentic about your product or service, after all, people what a product or service they can depend on.

• You need to be authentic about your business. Always do business by the book. People want to see that you believe in and value your business.

• You need to be authentic in what you say and do. Be truthful and honest always. If you promise something, deliver.

At the end of the day, branding is always about the customer. So when talking about the business, reframe your messages to incite positive feelings. After all, no one likes people who only talk about themselves!

Over time, through interactions with a business, people will attach meaning and significance to the brand. These interactions won't always be when they conduct a business transaction. Interactions can also be when people see or hear an advertisement about a business, when they notice a logo on the local football team as a sponsor, when they hear a business representative speak at a community forum, when they see business branded car drive down the street, or when a friend tells them about an experience they had with a business. All of these interactions help people build up a profile about that business – what it stands for, and how they feel about that. It is the job of the business owner and marketing team to help create a positive brand and ideas about the business through how the business operates.

And, just remember, a brand will almost always outlive the products and services offered under that brand. So brand your brand wisely!

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