Today, marketing messages fly at consumers from every direction. Competition for customer attention and dollars is fierce, and product differentiation is difficult. Yet, there are some companies that inspire passionate customer loyalty. Branding is their secret ingredient, but what actually does the concept of “branding” mean?
After reading several articles on “branding,” I decided to concoct my own definition: Branding is the image of a company, product, or service that occurs in the customer’s mind. That image is the result of a combination of marketing strategies. The objective of branding is to create an emotional attachment in the mind of the consumer, with the ultimate goal of creating customer loyalty that results in repeat sales or new sales of additional company products/services.
Bottled water is a really good example because water is … water. So why are customers attracted to one particular brand of water over another? Branding. A quick search on Amazon.com turned up 53 pages of bottled water offerings. You can purchase everyday, bubbly, spring, mineral, hydration, protein infused, flavored, electrolyte, ocean, caffeinated, alkaline artisan, or enhanced water. The water comes in many sizes, with choices of plastic or glass bottles, boxes, sport cap, and more. Which combination of features appeals to your inner self?
Think of a brand as the seller’s promise to the customer. Branding affects how customers perceive your product and what differentiates you from the competition. Where to start? To define your brand, start with the company mission. Your branding must be designed to promote this mission. What is the “one thing” you want customers to think of when they think about your product or service? A consistent and clear brand that delivers a positive brand experience will build loyal customers. This is why travelers often will chose a nationally known hotel chain or restaurant over a local, independent offering.
Elements of a branding strategy include advertising and communications, product and packaging design, pricing, store appearance (whether brick and mortar or online), and the visual identity of the brand. The same elements apply to online marketing as offline marketing, but the level of importance of different elements changes. Instead of your signage standing out on Main Street, online a business needs to be concerned about keywords and standing out in a multi-platform, crowded experience.
Learn more about creating your online and offline branding strategy by attending the August 9 SBDC Network Business Fitness webinar with Erin Archuleta, Seller Advocate at Square. To register, go to /find-training/events/wyoming-entrepreneur-classes/integrate-your-online-and-offline-marketing-efforts/.