Branding: polishing and crystallization

branding

First of all, branding is about choices and decisions.

In marketing and communication there are infinite possibilities in which you can communicate a brand. But how do you choose what and how you communicate? And who is taking these decisions? These are questions I face daily in companies I work with or from marketing professionals I know.

The most frequent symptom is that situation in which an agency delivers a piece of ”creation” (in any form it may be, video, visual, static, etc.) and the client is not satisfied. The sentence ”I don’t like it” is by far in the top of the sentences stated by clients that annoys people from agencies. The client cannot tell why he/she doesn’t like it; the agency doesn’t know what was wrong. And all this because there is no well-defined brand platform, to guide the arguments and eliminate the subjectivity. Because it’s not about us, it’s about the brand. If the case.

But first things first. Branding is the process in which a brand achieves distinctiveness, memorability and meaning – imagine that these would be the 3 most important facets which sustain each other. Let’s see them one by one.

  1. Distinctiveness:

Distinctiveness (or clarity) is achieved when the respective brand is expressed and looks in a special way, different from others and if possible, unique. This feature can be measured through the clarity of the associated attributes – the more the ones perceived are closer to desired ones, the clearer the brand is. Provided that those desired are well defined. For instance, if we have a brand selling shoes, we can desire that the brand is associated with design and quality. But there are high chances that other shoes sellers “bid” for these two desired attributes, too. So what we do then?

The magic of branding stays in the possibility to create various personalities and “expressions”. But with responsibility and commitment, because as I said, branding is about decisions and choices. Business decisions, not only marketing ones. Let’s go back to our shoes. For whom are they? For more sophisticated women or for some high-school girls (not to be interpreted that high-school girls cannot be sophisticated, they surely are, but in a different way)? What kind of design do they have? Are they classical or more nonconformist? Do we have a retail store or do we sell online? Based on a thorough analysis of the business model and of the targeted consumers, one can define the brand’s personality features, so they reflect the business and resonate with customers (or customers to resonate with them).

  1. Memorability:

Once we defined the brand’s personality, it is good to elaborate also its expression or “implementation” rules, so that the brand expresses itself in a unitary manner in all its possible interactions with consumers. If a brand is joyful and friendly, it will express itself as such, which, for instance, could mean using an informal and funny language and clear images, full of light. It would be weird if for such a brand one would see on YouTube a dark, dramatic video, don’t you think?

No matter how creative marketing and communication teams would be, it is for the best that they use their creativity on the brand personality’s sake, and not otherwise. And in order to become memorable, the recipe is so simple, that many companies easily ignore it. As an old saying states, practice makes perfect. This is true also for branding: do not hesitate to repeat, even if in different stories, the same forms of expression you have defined. A brand that is joyful and funny, will be like that always, no matter the story it tells or the specific message it delivers. The more consistent is in its expression, the more memorable and recognizable it will become. Sometimes even in a fraction of a second. And it is proven that this recognition helps preference and purchase. We, as people, are sometimes lazy and we often choose what is more convenient or what comes first into our mind. Do you see yourself in this pattern?

  1. Meaning:

The last and maybe the hardest part in branding to be achieved, ignored by many, is building a meaning or significance. In a world in which we are bombed every hour with tens of messages and information, people have developed a series of automatic filters of selection for some or ignorance for others. So, a brand that communicates exclusively in a commercial manner in terms of product benefits, for instance, could not be relevant enough anymore. A brand with something to say, with a point of view and looking for a tension, or an aspiration, or a desire less obvious for the clients, to whom it replies, has much more chances to create emotional connections and go up in the top of preferences.

A manufacturer who uses recycled materials helping this way also the environment, a furniture brand that knows in a woman’s kitchen there is never enough space and offers her some resourceful solutions and ideas, an online courses brand that knows its prospects are those who never stop learning and provides them extra homework and cases also after the purchase is closed – these are just a few examples of building a relationship beyond the immediate product or service, based on knowing and understanding those we wish to attract as clients.

As a conclusion, a brand that manages in the same time to be distinctive, memorable but also to create a significant bond with its audience, has all the chances to go up into the top of preferences. We have set the foundation, but we still need something. And what’s that exactly? Awareness – in its original meaning referring strictly to how well a brand is known quantitatively, without any significance or other qualitative nuances. For awareness we usually need exposure and reach, which means, more practically speaking…budget.

So, the first time you hear a conversation about “I like / I don’t like the commercial”, remember to ask (yourselves) if it complies with the brand line and how well does it manage to do it, contributing to its distinctiveness, memorability and significance.

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