When someone says, “McDonald’s,” likely you have instant associations come to mind – colors, tastes, the big yellow M you see from the highway, the way it feels when you walk into the restaurant, old commercials you’ve seen through the years, and perhaps an all-too-catchy jingle you’ve heard a million times before. All of these associations were deliberately created by the company to stamp – or brand – a specific impression of McDonald’s in your mind.
What exactly is branding?
In a nutshell, a company’s brand is the way it projects and presents itself to its customer base. It encompasses multiple elements of a company’s image, from their logo to their website to their public image and press. Your brand is essentially who you are.
A good brand clearly demonstrates what you offer to your customers and promises that you will deliver. It focuses on specific areas in which your company is strong, highlighting how it differs from competition and stands out.
Why is it important?
Think of the old adage: “image is everything.”
If you are working hard to provide quality products and services, you know image is not everything. And yet, successful branding certainly has made a huge difference in many companies. Branding is a crucial part of reaching new people and expanding your client base. We are naturally drawn first to eye-catching and memorable logos, slogans, and jingles. Likewise, some people care strongly about certain ethical components, like making sure they support companies with environmental initiatives or charitable contributions. These different elements are all things a company can choose to highlight or prioritize in order to make their brand appealing to the market.
Successful branding can increase name recognition of the company. For example, an adhesive bandage for a cut on your finger is almost always referred to as a “Band-Aid.” However, this is not the name of the good itself; it is the branded name of a type of good at one specific company. Their branding has made the name “Band-Aid” synonymous with the good itself, regardless of what company is selling it.
Branding can also help add to a company’s business value. Following the Band-Aid example, a customer may subconsciously find themselves drawn to the actual Band-Aid brand at a store over the generic brand because they have a subliminal attachment to the brand. This can increase business value by allowing companies to charge more money for their products, knowing that they will retain their clientele even at a slightly higher price. Many companies rely on this customer attachment-on cultivating a brand that both entices new customers and inspires loyalty so existing customers keep coming back.
How can I successfully brand my company?
First, the company needs to decide upon the image they wish to present and the message they want to send about their products. It is often best to focus on specific elements that make the company unique, because this helps target clients. Instead of being the jack of all trades, strive to highlight the things that make your company unique. Once you have this message in mind, you can come up with a voice that will help convey it. This voice will be incorporated into your slogan, logo, website, and press. Maintaining consistency across all parts of your company allows you to fully integrate your brand.
Branding can be so transformative for a company’s success, so consider pulling together a team, asking for input, and developing a plan. Whether you are a company getting off the ground and finding your brand or an existing company that wishes to polish their brand, this process can be overwhelming, especially when you have the day-to-day operations to run.