Branding is being confused with marketing by many people who does not fully understand what branding really is. As a result, they perceive branding as a vague and not relevant concept that they should not be concerned with. So let’s look at what branding really is and why you should care about it.
First, things first – to understand branding, it is important to distinguish between brand name and a brand. Think of a big brand let’s say, Mercedes. I am guessing that you not only know its logo but also that you associate Mercedes with luxury cars, famous for their reliability and design. In this case, the brand name is just that- a name and a logo, but the image that springs to your mind and how you ‘feel’ about Mercedes cars is a brand. It’s the perception of the company and its products. Even if you never had a Mercedes car and even if you don’t plan on buying one, you know that Mercedes cars stand for luxury and reliability.
You probably have some sort of an image when you think about other companies like Starbucks, Coca-Cola etc. How we ‘feel’ about different brands is just a perception. A carefully planned and executed branding strategy.
As you can see branding is much more than just creating a company logo. It is about differentiating from competitors, building a reputation and successfully promoting it. Success is achieved when consumers associate your brand with the values that you stand for. (Mercedes = reliability and luxury cars, Ryanair = cheap flights). Creating such image requires a lot of careful planning and deliberation. It requires an understanding of the market, but also defining company’s values and committing to them.
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”~ Jeff Bezos
Branding vs Marketing
In that sense, branding and marketing are not the same. Branding is the overall strategy of image building. As such it comes before marketing activities like TV adverts – those just contribute to the strategy and help to build a strong brand. Successful branding makes use of marketing, but also requires other elements like customer care, quality control, business strategy, website, logo, uniforms etc. to follow the same coherent strategy aimed at building a strong brand.
In short, branding is about building the image of the company and planting it in the mind of consumers.
Image credit: Designed by Freepik