Branding Hints for the Uninitiated

The notion of branding is apparent to most businesses seeking to build value through
the establishment of long term stable customers. The idea of establishing a brand, by
definition, means that the company is seeking to create a series of associations with
either the company or its products so that customers can freely establish a relationship
with the brand. It is this relationship that draws customers back. It is the loyalty of the
customer that builds the value.

Establishing a brand is a process that can take a significant period of time. It can also be
expensive. Since we know that Tudog’s readers want results quickly (and don’t like to
spend money needlessly), we thought an article detailing some aspects of branding
would be helpful.

The branding process is guided by concepts that serve to eliminate error and accelerate
results. Some of these concepts are:

Own a Thought
There is the notion in marketing that no two companies can own the same claim in the
minds of consumers. From a positioning perspective, companies are encouraged to pick
their point of difference, their differentiating factor, and stick with it. Similarly, in building
and maintaining a brand, it is useful, and even perhaps necessary, to own a word or
phrase that communicates some intrinsic value the company delivers. Owning a thought
reinforces the brand and focuses on what the brand stands for. Make sure that the
phrase you seek to own represents an accurate representation of what you sell.
Consumers will spot misrepresentations and they will serve to damage your brand. Keep
it honest.

Have a Defined Focus
Brands are best created and endure longer when they revolve around a focused product
or service. Too often businesses try to expand their offering by moving away from their
core competency. This creates confusion in the mind of the consumer and dilutes the
brand because, rather than standing for one great product, the brand is meant to signify
many products. Generally, the brand winds up losing its focus and therefore its power.

Select a Great Name
Some people seem to think that the name of their product or service is not central to
their brand. It is one of the most important elements in defining and advancing the brand.
This doesn’t mean that you need to go crazy with unforgettable names derived from
words made up or foreign languages. But it does mean you need to know that what you
call your product will affect to what extent you succeed in branding it.

Put PR Before Advertising
The notion that you can build a brand through advertising represents a
misunderstanding of what a brand is. When a new company splashes onto the television
screens and billboards they are raising awareness of their name….perhaps, but they are
not building a brand. A brand has character and represents ideas. Advertising can serve
to communicate these…perhaps, but it can’t instill them in the mind of the public.
Advertising is useful in maintaining a brand. PR, because it is backed by the power of
opinion and influencers, is more useful in building the brand.

Pay Attention to Branding Elements
Many companies fall short on their branding goals because they minimize the value that
needs to be placed on branding elements like company logo and company colors. While
these will not be the sole reason your brand succeeds, they could be the only reasons it
does not. Branding elements serve to enhance the consumer association with the brand,
serve as identifying components, and become part of what the brand stands for and
communicates. Without them, or with poor execution of them, you have a weaker brand

Take Your Time
Although during the internet boom it was thought that brands could be built in a matter of
months as long as the budget was there for high profile advertising, the truth is that real
brand equity takes years to build. This means that the mistakes that come with trying to
hurry things along might as well be avoided because there is no way to accelerate how
the public absorbs a brand message. The notion that the public will catch on quicker if
they are exposed to it more often is erroneous. Branding is a form of relationship
development and that means it takes time.

Branding is a process that, when undertaken and stuck to, allows for a company to
capture consumer loyalty because of an inherent agreement that reads; “we, the
consumer will continue to buy your product as long as you, the company, continue to
adhere to the ideals and characteristics you proclaim to be aspects of your product".
Stick with the ideals and characteristics, and your company will grow.