If you are a chocolate lover, you probably do not notice the words or images surrounding the “Snickers, Reese’s, and Hershey’s” brand. And if you are not a chocolate lover [GASP] then you’ll have to run to the closest convenience store and take a peek in the candy aisle to fully understand what branding means in the chocolate bar industry.
The point is, almost everyone recognizes the brands mentioned above because those candy makers have mastered branding. They have leveraged the same name and imagery on their candy bars for years, so people automatically identify their favorite chocolate bars based on the way they look.
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As B2B marketers, we know that branding goes far beyond just looks. Your organization’s brand ultimately represents the “because” of your company, so being consistent across marketing channels is key to maintain a strong brand presence.
What exactly does “brand” mean?
The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.” Your company’s brand is not all about the logo on the lobby wall, it is about the perceived corporate image as a whole. It’s important that you have a strategy around branding your company and products/services so that your business is perceived to be the best and only choice for your customers.
Why is brand consistency so important?
Consistent branding allows marketers to differentiate their product, deliver key messaging, and encourage loyalty by driving authority and trust in their product or business. By keeping a tight rein on brand consistency, marketers can drive customer perception from the onset of the engagement all the way through the buyer decision making process. Marty Neumeier, author of The Brand Gap said, “A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company.” You want your customer to feel good about your product, so if branding encourages a sense of trust from your customer, then it is important to build it into your marketing framework and deliver on it regularly.
What can you do to implement a good brand?
If you haven’t already established a brand for your product or service, make sure that you start by conducting customer perception research to determine what types of messages and imagery resonates with your audience. Map out a strategy to ensure that you build some guidelines around keeping the brand consistent across all marketing mediums. Develop a branding standards document that clearly outlines all of the requirements from a messaging and visual imagery perspective. This document should cover topics such as positioning statements for the company and each product, key differentiators and benefits, color palettes, fonts, layouts, graphical treatments, etc.
Remember, your brand is a representation of your business. It is the corporate image and identity, so it is imperative to maintain cohesion with messaging and imagery for the sake of building a sense of product recognition. Solid branding reinforces your identity, drives positive sentiment, and is essential to ensuring proper representation of your business. Those companies who do it well (imagine Coca-Cola, Starbucks, and Apple) have cornered the market via brand recognition.
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