The Importance of Branding in Marketing
There was a time when we talked a lot about brand. This was before social media, websites and online ads absorbed our marketing time and dollars. While brand may have moved out of the spotlight, it has never diminished in importance. Regardless of what other kinds of marketing you’re doing, your brand is at the forefront. It’s your value in the marketplace, the way consumers perceive your product or service. It transcends your logo, tagline or messaging. It’s about your reputation, the way you treat your customers. The quality of your product. All of this contributes to the importance of branding in marketing.
“Marketing managers spend 70 hours a week thinking about whatever product they are marketing, but the consumer is spending seven seconds,” says Professor Ravi Dhar of the Yale School of Management.
Seven seconds. That’s all it takes for your brand to be trashed
Think about a crappy review on Yelp or your Google Business Profile that’s totally unwarranted. We’re all vulnerable here. Every small business has unhappy customers that may be angry for reasons over which we have no control. This is especially concerning now when reviews have become so important—people don’t seem to buy or do anything without first checking reviews. While companies can try to shape their brand image with slick marketing campaigns, tag lines and influencer reviews, ultimately, a consumers’ perception of a brand is something they create themselves.
What is brand in business?
Or how to brand yourself professionally. It takes time. You have to prove your ability to consistently meet deadlines, provide deliverables and earn the trust of your customers. Consider your brand in terms of performance and imagery:
- Performance defines how well your product meets your customers’ needs. It’s based on how well your product performs–things like product reliability and durability, its serviceability and effectiveness, efficiency, design and price.
- Imagery refers to how well your brand meets your customers’ needs on a social and psychological level. This is where it gets visceral; it’s a matter of how it’s reaching us on an emotional level. Your brand can meet these needs from your own experiences with a product, from targeted marketing, or by word of mouth.
The experiences that your customers have with your brand come as a direct result of your product’s performance. To build loyalty, your product must meet/exceed their expectations of your customer.
From brand recognition to brand equity
A well-known brand that has multiple products and has become a household name carries higher brand value, or equity. Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, the big TV networks, etc.—these are brands that have high brand equity. We recognize these products and are more likely to choose them when getting ready to make a purchase.
Brand equity example
Brand equity at work: Remember that brands with high brand equity also have high sales volumes. These are the products that we know and trust, that have cache. A great example? Who’s seen the lines at the Apple store when they release a new version of the iPhone? There are lines around the block for a product that’s likely full of bugs and overpriced.
How to build brand equity
Build brand equity by fostering positive feelings and judgments. Think about how you want your customers to feel and think when using your products. Visualize a happy customer. That’s brand equity. That brand equity is also going to pay itself forward.
What are four elements of brand equity?
- Brand awareness. Being aware of what the brand stands for (unique selling point) can provide a level of familiarity and transparency that can influence purchasing decision. For example, knowing the ins-and-outs of an iPhone and the Apple product range would provide more certainty and comfort when getting ready to make a purchase. While brand recognition is about features, brand awareness is about knowledge, values, and beliefs.
- Brand Attribution. Brand attribution assumes that people draw upon their past experiences with your brand. Those prior experiences will influence future purchasing decisions. Apple can make me crazy with its Genius Bar and fast-talking Geniuses, but I continue to buy iPhones. I’m familiar with the operating system and the functionality. I have an iPad and a Mac. I like the synergy.
- Perceived quality. This is your customers’ opinions of your service and ability to meet expectations. It may have little to do with actual quality and service; it’s based on what the customer perceives—it’s our challenge to change or meet that perception!
- Brand loyalty. Brand loyalty is based on brand awareness, brand attribution, perceived quality, and previous experiences. It’s also influenced by individual preferences—these are the personal prejudices that can make it difficult to change brands. I remain loyal to Apple products. I’ve been using them for more than 20 years.
Brand perception: The key to brand equity
Brand perception is what customers believe a product or service represents–not what the company owning the brand says it does. We can look to Keller’s Brand Equity Model, whose concept is simple: In order to build a strong brand, you must shape how customers think and feel about your product. You have to build the right type of experiences around your brand, so that customers have specific, positive thoughts, feelings, beliefs, opinions, and perceptions about it.
With strong brand equity, your customers will buy more from you, they’ll refer more people to you, they’re more loyal.
Why is personal branding important?
Whether you know it or not, you have a personal brand. It’s how you, as a person, present yourself to the world. We’re now a gig economy, changing jobs frequently, or working as freelancers or contractors. Building and managing your personal brand has become an important component of career growth.
Google yourself and look at what pops up on your SERP
Unless you’re a recluse, when you Google yourself you’re probably looking at links to LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media sites. You may have links to your website, to sites where you volunteer or are engaged in your community. This is your online reputation—or your online brand. It’s the combination of skills and experiences that differentiate you. Just as we do with our business’ brand, effective personal branding is how we build trust with prospective clients.
Developing a great personal brand doesn’t happen overnight. In the same way we build a brand for our company, we build trust and credibility personally. We want people to know that they can trust us, that we are reliable and will deliver a consistently high-quality product.
Examples of great personal brand
- Can’t get any better than Oprah. You don’t have to be a fan to appreciate what Oprah has accomplished. She’s stuck to her core competency: Challenging millions of viewers to live the best lives possible by understanding their potential. She’s inspired millions to be their best selves—to read, to try new things, to set goals and succeed.
- Nesha Woolery. Her website greets us with “Hey designer lady!”, speaking directly to the audience she hopes to reach. Skilled in project management and organization, Nesha offers online courses, videos, and articles targeting female designers. She has a specialized service for a specific demographic and a light, breezy design that complements her own personal brand aesthetic. She’s fabulous.
Think of other people whose style you admire. They may be actors, media personalities, a neighbor, family or friends. If you think about why you like them, it’s because they have strong personal brands—built over time on trust and the way they conduct their lives. This is what brand is all about.
If you need help developing and executing your business or personal brand, contact