Branding is not marketing.
Let me be clear at the onset.
There’s a great deal of confusion out there in the global business.
Interestingly, both these terms are used widely in the business circles.
THEN WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
In this article, you will gain some crucial insights into:
+ What is branding?
+ Branding in marketing
+ Advantages of branding
+ Origins of branding
+ Why is branding important?
Let’s get started.
WHAT IS BRANDING?
Brands sell like hot cup cakes.
You might have observed this phenomenon, especially in the supermarkets and your nearby departmental stores.
We are very familiar with the some of the names such as Google, Disney, Instagram etc.
But what exactly is branding?
According to the Business Dictionary
Branding is a basic expression of the essential values of an organization’s products or services.
It is the exterior face of the organization which prevails over all the business processes and systems in force.
This face is created using several resources like:
+ employees etc.
A noticeable feature of a good brand is its trademark which guards it against its imitation by rivals.
A strong brand represents a company with high credibility with respect to its products and services.
The cornerstone of branding lies in the brand logo (logo design), the brand website (website design), the essential graphic designs, the catchy taglines etc.
The tricks of branding create a long lasting impact on the minds of the consumers.
No wonder well known brands like Apple, Xerox, Coca Cola etc have become household names.
WHEN DID BRANDING BEGIN?
The word ‘Brand’ itself is derived from the Old Norse ‘brandr’ which means to burn.
The roots of branding can be traced back to the 17th century where the cattle were burn marked by their owners as a mark of ownership.
However, fine traces of branding can be seen in the cave paintings wherein the cave men conveyed messages via visual representations.
Image Credit : Creativebloq
In ancient Babylon, merchants would use pictorial symbols to attract customers and generate sales.
The ancient monuments, from The Eiffel Tower to the Taj Mahal, all are epitomes of pre historic branding.
Such monuments are unique in their existence, convey a distinct set of values through their inscriptions and put forth a valiant promise to cast a binding spell on the consumers.
Thus there is no clear picture as to when was branding introduced to humankind.
The 19th Century saw a rise in trade in Europe. With greater trade came a greater need for marking the goods.
By that time, these marks had become the emblem of high quality, strong credibility and unmovable trust.
Over time, the concept of registered trademarks, logos, design etc. came into existence.
Today, branding by itself has turned into a million dollar business.
From mom and pop shops to the corporate giants, branding has become to a company what breathing is to a body.
BRANDING IN MARKETING
Here’s the catch:
But branding and marketing are one and the same, right?
Following is a summary of the differences between these heavy terms:
|1||Branding is the cause
|Marketing is the effect|
|2||It constitutes the firm’s internal elements.
e.g. logo, design, values etc.
|It is concerned with the internal (price, place, product) as well as external (customer base, distribution networks) elements.|
|3||It makes the promise
|It delivers the promise|
|4||More visibility in the masses
|5||Often defined as an intangible asset.
|Seen more as an expense in business parlance.|
|6||Focuses on promising the best to the customers.
|Emphasizes on reaching to the maximum population.|
Branding is the message, marketing is the messenger.
There’s a wide misconception that branding is a temporary process while marketing goes on and on.
If you observe carefully, brand equity is not controlled by the head of the firm. The general masses ride the brand horse.
It’s only through marketing that the promise gets delivered to the consumers who return the favor via word of mouth marketing.
To cut the long story short,
+ Branding process starts with putting up the brand logo, brand website, etc.
+ The baton passes to marketing who advertises the products and delivers the promise.
+ If products are of good quality, consumers retain/ enhance the brand value via word of mouth marketing.
+ Or else if found defective, your brand value falls instantly since the negative word spreads among the masses.
It’s difficult to determine whether branding is a subset of marketing or vice versa.
However, in my experience, branding and marketing complement each other.
Thus it’s very important for any business firm to maintain a balance between branding and marketing strategy
However, the basis of both branding and marketing lies on the concept of ‘Marketing Mix’.
A Marketing Mix, commonly known as the 4Ps of marketing, is a business technique used commonly while framing strategies.
The 4Ps include:
However, in modern business, the concept of Marketing Mix is extended to 7Ps which includes People, Processes and Physical evidence.
ADVANTAGES OF BRANDING
+ BOOSTS BRAND IMAGE
Brand image refers to the perception of the public towards the firm’s products and services.
During the pre branding period, you shall see your firm witnessing normal profits, having regular customers, living the same old fashioned business life like trillions of shops in the world.
Post branding, you are bound to witness a sea change in the firm’s overall health.
Branding weaves such a strong web of quality, trust and honesty in the minds of the consumers that the latter are mesmerized by it.
A prudent firm focuses on brand positioning to stay ahead of its competitors in the industry.
+ PRICE PREMIUMS
Price premium is the additional revenue collected by the firm for its brand value in the market.
Once your firm is developed into a full fledged brand, there’s no looking back.
As illustrated in the above diagram, a normal firm would see a decline in demand as soon as they increase their prices.
On the other hand, your brand will see an increase in demand if the prices are soaring.
Because customers are so mesmerized by your brand magic that they seem willing to shell out more bucks to buy your goods.
All this is possible in today’s times, thanks to branding.
+ LOW MARKETING INVESTMENTS
I must confess that the initial branding expenses might be heavy, depending upon the industry.
But as a brand is built, we have observed a sharp reduction in the total marketing costs.
Marketing is done to remind the consumers constantly of your promise to meet their requirements.
But once your brand name is registered in the minds of the masses, they see no other product or service other than yours.
Your solutions become a household name over time, thanks to good product/ service quality, word of mouth marketing etc.
And thus, savings set in!
+ REPEAT SALES
There’s very little doubt that branding boosts sales.
But the best part is when brand loyalty sets in.
Brand loyalty is the habit of consumers to buy products/ services of a particular firm again and again and again.
The first time users come repeatedly to purchase your firm’s products.
What happens next is crazy:
Repeat customers spread the good word and bring more customers, who also over a period of time, become repeat customers!
And the process goes on and on and on…
This is the power of an effective branding strategy!
Again! All this depends on how you model your branding strategy and put it into effect.
Every business guns for consistency so that their day to day operations are not affected.
Regular fluctuations lead to irregularities in the functioning of the firm.
A stable environment gives them a wide scope to think with cool heads and draw future plans.
Branding invokes a sense of trust and maturity in the market, which makes the consumers believe that your products are of supreme quality.
As a result, even in times of adversities, your brand continues to enjoy the masses’ support.
As mentioned in the price premiums point, irrespective of your pricing and volume creation, your sales will not be affected.
TYPES OF BRANDING
- Product branding
Product branding is a basic form of branding which involves mixing the consumers’ ideas and opinions of a quality product with the actual manufacturing and delivering the same to the market.
Image credit : topnews
It denotes how a product interacts with its consumer audience by means of design, logo, graphics, values etc.
A branded product is what stands tall in the consumer.
The others in the race seem peanuts when brought face to face with a brand giant, thanks to product branding.
- Service branding
Fortunately, the basics of branding products and services are similar.
Service branding is the same as product branding, except that the subject matter involved is a service.
Such kind of branding is prone to several challenges such as invisibility, excess dependence on human labor, pricing etc.
Nonetheless, such challenges can be overcome by training the staff, commodifying the service, working on its brand logo, design etc.
- Personal branding
Personal branding , as the name suggests, is the process of creating a brand out of the person by promoting his/ her values and beliefs for which he/ she stands for.
Donald Trump: A living example of personal branding
It is the ‘productization’ of the individual’s core value systems which in turn appeals to a section of the population.
Personal branding is one of the most popular marketing tools in the 21st Century marketing era.
It’s a raging hit among businesses revolving around an individual, especially among the world’s well known personalities.
The whole organization stands associated with the person’s identity, for better or for worse.
In personal branding, the value system of the person at the epicenter of branding is studied carefully.
Once they are minutely analyzed, their positive aspects are transferred to the business enterprise.
What this means is that the consumers buy such products based on the person’s goodwill in the society.
- Corporate branding
This type of branding is an activity conducted on a much wider scale, since it involves the whole organization.
It refers to making a sincere promise to the consumers that their products/ services, their operations, their commitment is pro – public and that it delivers to this promise with utmost integrity.
Image credit : digitaladexperts
Unlike product branding where only one line of product range is carved into a single brand, corporate branding envisages each and every product offered by the firm.
Advantage: The new product rides on the popularity of the brand waves of the firm, thus getting a solid start.
Using the principle of corporate branding, a brand can spread its tentacles to new sectors and gain momentum in its overall growth.
A unique case in large MNC’s is the concept of brand architecture, wherein different brands are structured in the organization in such a way that they stay differentiated from each other.
- Nation branding
Nation branding is bringing about positivity in the world about a particular nation with an aim to alter the global perception to its advantage.
In the era of nation – states, this is a well planned attempt to build a strong reputation of the country in the global platform.
This strategy can be applied to lure MNC’s, attract FDI (Foreign Direct Investment), increase trade, give a boost to tourism etc.
FutureBrand publishes the CBI (Country Brand Index) by taking a set of 75 countries annually by taking into account various factors such as the country’ perception in world affairs, the strength of their leaders etc.
- Celebrity branding
Celebrity branding is a type of branding wherein the celebrities are roped in by business houses to use their brand value to promote their solutions.
Famous personalities, particularly actors, sportspersons etc. are roped in by the organizations to promote their products and services to the audience.
The public starts drawing similarities between the ambassador’s values and that of the firm.
Plus being smitten by the promoter’s charm, the audience prefers to listen to the promoter’s advice and eventually ends up buying products.
Such type of branding has become very common in today’s times.
Smart businesses devise a mix of branding strategies and try to carve a brand which stands differentiated from the herd.
WHY IS BRANDING IMPORTANT?
+ Builds credibility
A strong brand commands respect in the global market.
Credibility breeds trust and integrity on the shoulders of the firm.
Thus the firm garners massive support of the consumers who stay loyal to its products/ services.
Interestingly, even the rivals don’t mess with your firm since they know that any wrong move of aggression might suffer a severe backlash from the consumers.
+ Barriers to entry
A startup firm thinks a thousand times before entering an industry with well known brands.
If it ventures into the field, it is bound to face an eventual shutdown.
image credit : nealwiser
The reason is strong brands enjoy economies of scale and possess massive marketing mechanisms.
To add to this, they may also resort to predatory pricing to drive the new entrants out of the race.
Though the chances of brands pursuing the latter tactic are minimal, a safe distance from brands is preferable for the newbie.
Brand expansion remains high on a well established firm’s priorities.
As a matter of fact, a brand takes years of efforts to develop.
It’s a perfect recipe of resources, patience, determination, right strategies, optimum time etc.
As it turns into a corporate giant, it will naturally look to venture into other industries.
During such adventures, the brand, though a new entrant enjoys the brand equity of its parent firm and finds it relatively easier to settle as compared to other average firms.
+ Competitive Advantage
Who doesn’t want an edge over rivals in the brand race?
In an age where customers remain perplexed regarding the choice of right solutions to meet their needs, being a brand clears the air for them.
A brand is a symbol of trust, integrity and quality.
It beholds the promise of delivering the right solutions to the customers and taking a high moral ground for the values and ideals they believe in.
It’s obvious to see the public flock to the brand’s products and services.
+ Leverage in B2B marketing
B2B (Business – to – Business) marketing refers to the process of marketing of products/ services from one business to the other.
This kind of marketing is on the rise given the need for every firm to gain momentum in the race to the top.
Being a brand gives a very strong bargaining power as a seller since its offerings are ensured of top quality and high volume.
+ Maintains customer base
Economic problems such as depression, inflation etc. have very little impact on your customer base.
This is because branding helps in captivating the imagination and the aspirations of the users and synchronizing it with your offerings.
Skeptics believe that branding might fade off as more and more firms turn into brands in the coming years, and that marketing might be the only thing which would stay in the long run.
Whatever might be their predictions, be assured that branding and marketing are here to stay.
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