Branding is a word that means different things to different people. Typically, it stands for brand building – the journey of building a brand from a product. So, what is a brand really?
A brand is a product, service, or concept that is publicly distinguished from other products, services, or concepts so that it can be easily communicated and usually marketed. However, today, a brand is “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes.” A brand is an experience. In ancient times, branding was a way of marking the cattle with a hot iron stamp. It was to distinguish between cattle that belonged to one individual from cattle that belonged to another. It was a cruel form of establishing ownership of humans over their cattle.
However let’s focus on the ‘act of branding’ – the stamping. Over the years, the term ‘brand’ acquired an inviting, almost glamorous tinge. Ask anyone today – any business owner, new or old, s(he) wants to make a brand out of his/her product or service or idea.
When competition hits the roof and threw some intimidating challenges in the face of the marketing team, branding acquired a golden sheen. When similar products and services flooded the market, branding became important. Because, it was only through branding, that the company would be able to differentiate its offering from competing offerings. Branding would help consumers arrive at informed choices. Branding would create a special place in the consumer’s mind for different brands. Branding would decide how consumers would decide what they bought and what they did not and why. Like Jeff Bezos said, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you are not in the room.” If you want them to say good things about your brand, start building your brand now. Because, brands are not built in a day.
Brand building – demystified
Brand building is simply putting, the process of building a brand from scratch. It is defining the differentiators of a brand for its stakeholders. It is defining the features of the brand. It means defining the ‘Who’, ‘What’, ‘Where’, ‘When’, ‘Why’ and ‘How’ of the brand. These form the 5 golden questions that will help you define your brand.
Whom are you talking to – Who is your Target Audience/Your Customer/Prospect
What is it you want to say – What does your brand stand for? What does your brand offer? What is your brand’s promise?
Where is it going to be said – This is your geographical market. Define what is your market/location/place where your brand will be present
When is it going to be said – This is the time of the message
Why is this going to be said – Why should the customer believe what you promise about your brand. What is his reason to believe? – What is the support /the evidence you offer the customer, so that he believes what you promise?
How is this going to be said? – What is your message going to be? What exactly will you say in your communications/collateral like brochure, website, ads?
Start answering these questions as specifically as you can and half the battle of building your brand is won.
What often goes wrong for a company, is the ‘either’ / ‘or’ phenomenon. Companies need to understand that branding and sales are not arch rivals, who are at war with one another. They are actually comrades-in-arms who take synchronized steps to achieve business goals. You can brand while selling and sell while branding. It means you don’t have to wait till your cash registers start ringing to embark on your brand building journey. Or you neither have to wait till your brand is a brand before you start working on your sales figures. Branding and sales are not silos. Break that invisible wall between these two and see how well you do.
Branding with sales means that your sales pitch, your sales communication, sales and marketing collateral, even your sales force – all of them speaks the same brand language in one voice which is your brand tone. It means your visiting cards, brochures, print ads, uniform, attire, expressions etc. all should reflects the same personality – that of the brand. Your sales message is part of your marketing strategy which in turn is part of your brand strategy. There needs to be an alignment, a relevance, a common thread and a coherence between these three. For all of these to work, you need to define what your brand stands for. Example – Brand Pixamatic stands for ‘Pragmatic decisions, precise actions’; Dove stands for ‘Real Beauty’; Volvo stands for ‘safety’ and so on and so forth.
As entrepreneurs, as business owners in our journey to build brands and build sales, we need to remember that branding and sales are two sides of a door. When you push from one side, it creates a pull from the other. Branding and sales are the pull and the push you need to work on, in tandem.
When should branding come into the picture for a business?
This is a question that hounds a new entrepreneur. Here’s the straight and simple answer -Branding should come into the picture as soon as or while the company is being formed. “When you brand yourself accurately the competition becomes irrelevant”, said Walt Disney and I agree totally. The Brand Strategy needs to be formulated right when you are thinking of a name for your company. Once you have the brand strategy in place, the way forward is clear. Branding should start at the same time your company is being formed or your business is being launched.
The importance of branding for a startup
Startups want funds to push branding to the back burner. Their focus is sales and there is nothing wrong in it. What they forget is that with no branding, their products end up becoming me-too products. Unfortunately, a major chunk of newly launched products and services fail due to lack of proper brand strategy. A business is not built on the dream of netting in profits alone; it is built on an idea, a strategy, a plan and executing that plan within the time period defined.
“If your business is not a brand, it is a commodity”, said Donald Trump.
Brand building needs to be done right at the beginning – at the inception of a startup. This gives the brand a head-start in the market and a clear road map of how to proceed when goals are met and when goals are not met. If you are establishing a new category, branding becomes even more important; because competition will soon be at your heels breathing down your neck, capturing a chunk of the market you created.
Pixamatic has helped many new brands come to life and grow them. One of them is DYNA Filters Pvt. Ltd. DYNA is a 35-year old brand dealing in Air Filters.
The DYNA Filters Rebranding Story
DYNA was into Air Filters, their flagship product. In due course, the company introduced more product lines (Clean Room Panels, Clean Room Equipment and Turnkey Projects) under the same brand name – DYNA Filters. They soon realized that the new product lines being radically different from the original product, could not go under the old brand, as the new introductions were conflicting with the old brand image their customers had. DYNA had come to us for graphic designing work; however, during discussions and conversations with them, we got an insight into their real problem, which was lack of the right brand communication. We recommended that the real solution was to go in for re-branding so that they could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their competition and align themselves to the new changes in the marketplace. It was not an easy task convincing them to change their image after 35 long years but we did. To add fuel to the daunting task, we had to complete the rebranding exercise and incorporate the new brand identity in all the collateral for an exhibition just 10 days away! Saying that we had very little time would be an understatement and we were fire-fighting right from the word go as we had taken on a huge responsibility on our shoulders. But we burnt the midnight oil without blinking and successfully met the criminal timelines. The exhibition went off well and the new brand image was well-received. We had a success story and a happy client in our already-smiling portfolio.
We are focused on working on very real problems that young and old brands are facing in the market today and helping them to solve these problems. We believe every brand is a potential success story. Brands, like trees, need nurturing and tender loving care. Are you giving your brands the love and care they need?