Think about a Brand. A company that sells computer and other things tech is creative, innovative, expensive, adored, and has a clean and cool design.
What brand comes to your mind?
Yes, you got that right. It is Apple.
I can read your mind. Jokes apart!
But think about it. You have been silently programmed to associate all the above-mentioned words with Apple, one of the most valuable brands of the world. Welcome to the world of frenzy marketing called Branding.
Branding has been around for ages. Ancient Egyptians are thought to be the very first ones to have used branding as a way to differentiate one trader’s livestock from another. How did they do it? Cruel enough, they burned their distinctive symbols (logo) in the animal skin.
Branding seems to have never looked back ever since. From visual identity creation of Coca-Cola brand to bungee jumping off the hotel by Richard Branson to celebrate the first flight of Virgin America, every brand is now involved in some sort of branding.
Contrary to popular belief, SMEs do not need big pockets to do branding. They need brains to come up with creative ideas that can elevate their brand.
Let us learn some valuable lessons from the best players in the game.
1.Strong Brand has a Catchy Name and an Awesome Logo
Can you analyze the repercussions of a wrong name selection of a newborn baby?
It would cost FedEx billions of dollars to now change its name. The cost will be too high that it can even be wiped out of the industry.
Great brands take their time to come up with a unique name that is catchy, easy on the tongue and has a connection to what they do and stands for.
When Jeff Bezos came up with the name Amazon, he deliberately tried to connect it with the world’s largest and most exotic Amazon River. What do think about “Twitter”. Twitter means a short burst of information and chirps from birds. This is what twitter actually is all about. Isn’t it?
What about the logo?
Imagine if Apple had to carry its crappy logo from 1976 till today. It would have lost its cool before the death of Steve Jobs. Today, Apple customers love the logo so much so that they proudly wear custom patches t-shirts of the logo at every IPhone launch event.
Logo is the brand’s strongest visual connection with its customers. Make sure you come up with a creative logo that resonates with the brand.
To do this, ask yourself.
- Can my potential customer figure out my product/service just looking at my logo?
- Does the logo portray the ideology of my company?
- Is it simple yet creative enough to raise eyebrows?
- Does it carry meaning and is it recognizable?
2.Craft and Communicate Brand’s Purpose and Values to Employees and Customers
Great brands stand on a strong, and clear mission, vision, and values. In fact, it is deeply infused in an organization’s culture, products/services, advertising, and marketing efforts.
Starbucks website says they believe that giving back to the community is a business responsibility. They do mean it. New York Times says Starbucks in 2015 pledged to curb unemployment by hiring 100,000 unemployment-affected youth in US alone.
Also, great brands know who they are, and they stand for it.
Take Southwest Airlines as an example.
Southwest is known for their distinct flight experience, especially the way their attendants explain safety procedure by cracking jokes on themselves.
One of the passengers didn’t like it and wrote multiple letters to complain about the crew’s non serious behavior. One of the letters was forwarded to Herb Kelleher, CEO and Founder of the company.
“Dear Mrs. Crabapple, we will miss you. Love, Herb.”
This is a classic example of crafting a vision and values for the brand and then live and die for it.
3.Position Yourself Away from Competitors Through Memorable Stories
Positioning is the closest synonym of Branding. There are millions of brands and counting in the world right now. Each brand carries multiple brand extension, product, and services.
If you fall short of positioning your brand to stand out from your numerous competitors, it will be lost in oblivion forever.
Your product must be different from its counterpart. This is why you launched it in the first place – tapping the unmet need of the market. Tell that to the world.
Even if it is a cut-throat competition and the difference is just a thin-line, try to create a perception of difference.
Remember, the perception is stronger than reality.
Basically, you have to tell your story through advertisements, endorsements, movies, innovative products, slogans, events, partnerships. Anything.
There is a (real or fabricated) difference between Coke and Pepsi, UPS and FedEx, McDonald’s and KFC, Gucci and Luis Vuitton, Nike and Reebok and lot others.
Coke has spent millions of dollar to strategically distance itself from Pepsi through advertisements. It creatively positioned itself as a happy and edgy brand that is constantly pushing the message of “love” between humans.
They have literally tried to humanize the brand by launching custom made patches of their brand logo.
Nike’s slogan of “Just Do It” makes you do something that is beyond you. Following suit, they hooked up with the basketball star Michael Jordan in 1997 to create a famous “Failure” commercial.
Read these lines by Jordan in the commercial. You might still get goosebumps:
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Did you get that? Nike is trying to position itself as the best sporting footwear brand for athletes.
Branding is way more powerful than marketing. It will get more people talking about you, help you skip the deadly price wars, and increase the bottom line of the business.
These branding lessons should inspire small and medium-sized businesses to turn their products/services into a brand without spending much money.