Prior to launching an advertising campaign or developing a marketing strategy, it is crucial that you determine your brand’s identity. Simply put, a brand’s identity is its singular “personality” that serves to identify a company or business and distinguish it from its competitors. Although “branding” has become a buzzword popularized by entrepreneurs, many people still have trouble grasping what the term means.

So what is branding, exactly? Branding is successfully creating a brand identity that will not only make your business more appealing in comparison to your competitors, but it will also convince consumers that in a sea of prospects, your business is the only one capable of satisfying their needs. Many different components can go into developing a brand, including eye-catching designs and a unique name; however, a brand encompasses more than just a logo. It’s what clients take away from the experience of working with you. It’s what your company stands for and is known for within your market. Coming up with a brand means coming up with what your company promises to deliver, whether that’s perfectly seasoned gourmet pizzas or impeccably tailored shirts. Branding includes the overall style of your company and the meaning it has to clients. Ideally, it would motivate people to buy your products or use your services.

If you don’t define your brand, you create the possibility that someone else will do it for you, including your competitors. Defining you brand allows you to control—or at least influence—how others perceive you. An effective brand marketing strategy minimizes your company’s chances of fading into the background and solidifies your reputation as a veritable force to be reckoned with. Strong branding demonstrates that a company aspires to something greater than just business as usual. By raising your status from a basic commodity to a brand, consumers will be willing to pay a premium for your services or products.

Ultimately, branding is perhaps most essential because it increases the chances that people will remember you, even as the battle for consumers’ attention (and money) rages on. A fully-developed brand identity will push your business to the forefront of consumers’ minds, making them more likely to recognize you, enlist your services, and remain loyal long after the conclusion of your professional relationship. It takes a lot of time to build (and maintain) these valuable customer relationships. Let me give you a few examples of successful branding:

–          Coca Cola: The majority of people instantly recognize this brand. Their logo, the Christmas songs, TV commercials, ads and cans are a part of the Coca Cola branding strategy. This brand has been around for decades, allowing its message to go from generation to generation, and all of Coca Cola’s efforts have paid off. Wouldn’t you agree it is quite hard to imagine a world without Coca Cola?

–          McDonald’s: Remember when you were a kid and going to McDonald’s was a treat? Of course you do! This is why you will probably take your (future) children to come and have a quick bite here every once in a while. McDonald’s introduced Happy Meals for children, including a small toy in every meal box. A smart move, given the fact that competitors soon offered similar deals. Furthermore, they incorporated the word “Mac/Mc” into their product names, like “McNuggets” or the famous “Big Mac.” These decisions have had major influence on the way customers perceive the brand.

–          Apple: Apple has found a way to become one of the most popular brands in the world by branding themselves successfully. Mac computers aren’t for just anyone, nor are the iPad or the iPhone. The late Steve Jobs was known for his way of presenting new products to the public and used his black turtleneck sweater as part of his strategy. Even the use of putting an “i” in their product names is all part of Apple’s branding strategy. The designs of the products, the campaigns and product launches are all in sync with Apple’s style and its branding.

You can say that these companies have become experts in business branding, based on their successes. Branding could be perceived as part of marketing or as a separate component, but it is definitely closely related to marketing. Before you start diving into concepts to market your business, make sure you have determined a brand identity and are aware of all the aspects that come with brand management.

Do you have a branding strategy? I would love to hear some creative tips! Please leave a comment.