Brand and branding are standard terms that you hear in the marketing community. Everyone has heard the term before, but what does it mean? How does branding affect a startup? Does it improve its sales value on the market and popularize the startup? And what role does branding play in sustainable enterprises? Let’s answer these questions down below.
What is Branding?
A company’s branding is what it takes to cut through the noise and get the attention of your ideal consumer. It’s what turns indifferent customers into brand enthusiasts and turns first-time consumers into lifetime customers. It’s what is required of an organization to stand out, create an impression, and propel forward.
People’s impressions of an organization are referred to as brand perception. However, branding refers to the efforts you take to build a brand. In other words, although your brand is a noun, a house name, branding is a verb which implies that it is made up of a progressive team effort. It’s branding when you create a logo.
Likewise, when you develop social media content, it’s all about branding. Same goes for a company logo and a theme sound, to mention a few.
Branding has a broad meaning, but to put it simply, it is a marketing process that involves actively shaping your brand. The term branding could also refer to the process of creating a unique voice for an organization. When a marketing team come together to plan an ad campaign, such is branding.
The evolution of branding
You may be wondering, how did branding become what it is today, and will it continue to evolve?
The word “Brand” has changed significantly over the years. At some point, it referred to the practice of leaving a mark on anything to indicate it was yours, like a horse, a book, or a guitar.
It soon spread to incorporate patterns or stigmas applied to offenders or those in public ridicule. Branding indicated that these people were outcasts in society, either because they had done something wrong, segregation or just born into different circumstances.
Italians began using unique watermarks on paper as early as the 1200s. This may have been the beginning of the branding that we are familiar with today. According to the American Marketing Association, it can be defined as a “name, word, design, symbol, or any other element that differentiates one seller’s goods or service from that of other sellers.”
As the years went on, the word “trademark” was added to branding in the early 1900s. According to Wikipedia, many companies claim to be the inventors of the world’s first trademark, some of them dating back to 1731.
During the Industrial Revolution, the evolution of branding reached an all-time new high. This was because factory production was a growing startup at the time, but factory-made goods were not really trusted by locals who preferred those handcrafted and provided by local vendors. It was a classic example of how we will continue to patronize those who we have tested and trusted.
Company owners realized they had to gain the respect and trust of consumers in order to persuade them to buy their goods and drive consumers to their doorsteps instead of local producers.
Therefore, they learned to develop products–consumer connections by using marketing. They would market their brands to families and gain household brand loyalty.
Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s cereal, and Campbell soup are examples of brands that merely represent certain items. If I asked you to think of a soda, the first thing that comes to mind would most likely be Coca-cola.
Certain factors such as the lack of regulated food health codes such as quality controlled to developing a keen eye. You see, consumers found it relatively easy to identify superior from inferior goods in those days, all you had to do was just take a look or drink, and you immediately knew this was trash or gold.
This even became a trend among some successful brands who, through experimental comparison, demonstrated that their products were of high quality and superior to their competition.
Several products were just invented or seen for the first time, an example is Soda pop. This gave them what is known as a Unique selling proposition (USP), where consumers rushed to buy them not because they trusted the brand but because they are new products and everyone wanted to try it out because of their uniqueness and popularity.
Pretty quickly, the number of new product and invention possibilities dwindled, and manufacturers began to make their versions of already existing products. As companies started to fight over identical products, the advantage of the USP era began to wane. Companies had to adapt their strategies and start advertising products using a new system called the emotional selling proposition (ESP).
Marketers took advantage of the consumers’ brand loyalty and emotional bonds. Rather than the goods, the BRAND became the selling tool. startups were able to effectively ensure that customers would choose a particular brand over the multitudes of rival products by strengthening the emotional bond with the brand.
Furthermore, as new products were launched under that brand name, companies noticed that consumers had an emotional connection, trust, and brand confidence in trying out a new product.
Customer recognition evolved from brand names to the overall companies due to the brand name/customer connection. As companies became the most crucial factor in customer awareness, ESP began to give way to the Organization Selling Proposition (OSP). The corporate image or organization began to take precedence over a single brand or product name in the broad scheme of things.
Customers can now communicate directly with companies regularly because of the popularity of various online channels (websites, social media, review sites, and so on). As companies nurture brand recognition and loyalty through specific consumer experiences, today’s brand evolution—the Experience Selling Proposition (XSP)—has had an impact.
The more consumers can interact with and participate in the activities of their current favorites, the higher their brand loyalty. In the same vein, companies must constantly adapt to change and embrace new approaches to draw consumers to their brands as technology continues to evolve at such a rapid pace. As a result, the fascinating path of branding evolution will continue.
The role of branding in a sustainable startup
Many startup owners make the mistake of overlooking branding efforts because they think of their startups as just that – startups; however, this isn’t the case. A sustainable startup requires adequate branding to stay afloat. If people do not know who you are, they will not trust you enough to try you out.
The key to successful branding is staying on people’s minds, and it is essentially out of sight, out of mind with branding. Therefore, branding is vital for all startups, in all shapes and sizes, because it gives the company a direction, increases your value, and connects you to new customers.
Here are five reasons why branding is essential for your startup
- Trust is built through branding.
Customers will feel a lot more comfortable investing their hard-earned greens in a company that displays itself in a dignified way and has social proof that its products and services are of high quality. You wouldn’t throw a thousand dollars into something that you have no guarantee of yielding results, would you?
- Branding keeps you on people’s minds.
Out of sight, out of mind – that is how branding works. Your logo should be unique, but it should also convey the ideal impression of your startup so that when people see it, they immediately think and feel the way you want them to. When you look at Apple’s logo, how do you feel? The brand itself should speak to people in your absence.
- Branding boosts your marketing efforts.
Your brand’s marketing strategy is crucial. The platforms and channels you choose and the demographic you target all contribute to the development of your brand. If your marketing emphasis is too restricted, you risk becoming “pigeonholed” and losing your potential to grow into other areas. On the other hand, a marketing focus that is too wide may result in your company’s failure to establish a distinct image in customers’ eyes.
- Branding motivates and gives your employees direction.
Anybody can hire people, but only an excellent brand can encourage motivated employees to achieve your vision and goal. When your company is proud of itself, so are your employees. Employee morale and productivity are dependent on having a great brand.
- Branding brings in new revenue.
One of the most effective methods to generate recommendations or word-of-mouth for startups is branding. This is why it’s critical that your logo, marketing, and image all work together to leave a lasting impression on customers’ thoughts. Consider this: you won’t be able to tell your friend about the fantastic place you ate last night or the amazing guitar you bought if you can’t remember the name of the brand.
The role of branding in a sustainable startup cannot be overstated, which makes it an essential growth driver. This article considered branding, what it means, and how it has evolved over the years. Hopefully, this article guides you to become a bigger and better brand.