A brand is a perceived image that provokes an emotional response. It’s hard to define because it’s intangible. The brand is the image attached to a name, design, symbol, or some other feature of a company’s product.
Here’s a better definition offered by Seth Godin:
A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter, or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection, or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.
What’s important to understand about a brand is that it has nothing to do with the actual product. It exists in the minds of customers only. As mentioned in the definition, a brand is a perceived image.
Brands are often confused with logos and identities. A brand identity consists of the image or design motifs. The logo is just one design that communicates the brand. Both are involved in communicating the brand’s message, but a brand is much bigger and more encompassing than that. It also includes the images or feelings that the design or logo invokes.
In his definition, Godin mentions ‘value.’ The importance of a brand is that it offers a unique perceived value that a customer doesn’t get from your competitors. In other words, the brand is the reason your customers choose you. A good brand tells customer that this is not only the best choice for them, but the only choice that offers the unique solution they’re looking for.
From the point of view of your business, your brand is the promise you make to your customers. It precedes and underlies all of your marketing and, if done well, every contact the customer has with your company.
Because of all of this, branding is one of the most important considerations for businesses. It all too often gets forgotten among the many other things that go into launching a business. But brands are powerful. They outlive the products they sell. It takes a great deal of thought and consideration to create a winning brand.
Elements of an Effective Brand
Brands come in all shapes and sizes, but there are a few common elements you’ll find in all of them.
Clarity. A good brand communicates the intended message clearly. Communication is very important. It’s also important that you communicate the intended image you want customers to perceive, rather than giving them the wrong message.
Memorability. In order for a brand to work effectively, it needs to be memorable. It needs to stay in the customer’s mind.
Uniqueness. Your brand tells people what makes your offering unique among your competitors and the most ideally suited for them. As I said above, it’s not that you’re the best but that you’re the only option that fully and adequately meets the customer’s needs. This aspect of uniqueness also means you don’t have to appeal to everyone.
Emotional Connection. All good brands make an emotional connection with their target audience. People identify themselves through the brands they like. It’s just as much a part of a person’s identity as their political or religious affiliation. If your brand gets inside your customers’ heads and elicits an emotional response, they’ll identify with it and remain loyal. This is what motivates the buyer to buy.
Credibility. A good brand is consistent. It never strays from the customer’s expectation. Like an old friend, it’s always there giving them the same message. In this way, your brand establishes your company’s credibility in the customer’s mind.
Timeless. The best brands are timeless. They endure and stay relevant for years or even decades to come.
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