I recently had two conversations with two different people about branding. One of them thought branding was about the logo and it was astonished to discover that there was more to it than that. The other saw branding from a much more academic perspective and was interested in:
- Semantics – the meaning behind the brand
- Syntactics – the way the brand is described
- Pragmatics – the effect the brand has on the customer
Talk about two completely opposite ends of the scale!
Branding can happen by accident and it can be planned and developed – but it can’t be sustained if it’s only ‘skin-deep’. A company that creates middle of the road products, reasonable quality at an affordable price, cannot suddenly launch a high end product credibly. That’s why Toyota created a new company and a separate brand when they made Lexus to compete with the Mercedes end of the market. They had a bit of an uphill struggle to gain market share, but Lexus has (20 years on) established itself in the upper end of the vehicle market, although, perhaps, not with the market share they would have liked!
Branding starts with the organisation. It is established as a combination of many elements including:
- The vision of the organisation’s leader
- The beliefs and values that form the company’s culture (how we do things here)
- The approach to quality and service
- The images and colours chosen to represent the company and their individual products or services
- The presentation of the service or product
- The messages that come along with that service or product
- What other people say about the company and what they deliver (reputation)
This is just the tip of the iceberg, there’s a great deal more – but these are a good place to start looking at your own brand.
Did you develop your brand deliberately or by accident (in other words, it evolved over time)? Do you have a clear picture of all these issues in relation to your business or organisation?
If you want to improve your marketing being clear on these things would be a great place to start!