Here are three branding questions for you:
- What do you stand for?
- What does your company stand for?
- How do you make sure that your audience knows what your company stands for?
The answers to these major questions are all wrapped up in the branding process.
Ideally, branding should be the perfect representation of your company or corporation. This means that a viewer should understand your company, its goals, and its messages from your branding.
That’s a lot of weight to hang on a bunch of visuals — but, of course, there’s a little more to it than that.
So what exactly does corporate branding encompass, and why is it so vital to growth and identity? Read on to find out.
Why is branding important?
Branding is an important concern for any company, large or small. But the bigger the corporation, the more important branding becomes. It can also be said that the bigger a business wants to become, the more important branding is.
There’s no such thing as passive branding. It’s a definite action that needs to be taken. For every action, there’s a reaction — good branding pays the company back in a lot of ways.
As marketing expert Ashley Friedlein puts it, “Brand is the sum total of how someone perceives a particular organization. Branding is about shaping that perception.”
Branding feeds back into the reputation of a company. As the study Reputation and the Corporate Brand shows, there are numerous hard-hitting examples of large corporations that suffered greatly when their reputations were damaged. With the damage of those reputations, the visual portions of branding also suffered a loss of credibility, leading in many cases to huge rebranding efforts.
On the other hand, as you build a good corporate reputation, the visuals you use in your branding will come to reflect more and more of those positive qualities.
Branding is a valuable tool for companies of any size and purpose. Corporate branding gives you the chance to cross-promote across different sectors, so it’s ideal for both companies with a narrow focus and companies with a wider product range.
Technology, healthcare, retail, restaurant — really, any type of corporation needs excellent branding in order to control marketing and messaging, reach customers effectively, and promote engagement and improve net promoter score.
Ultimately, regardless of what sector you operate in, corporate branding can be leveraged to bring at least five big benefits to your company.
What your branding can do for you
Effective branding isn’t just in the eye of the beholder — there are definitive ways to gauge results. Here are five key benefits to effective corporate branding.
- Good branding exposes your business to both old and new customers.
- Good branding promotes loyalty.
- Good branding targets your ideal customers.
- Good branding helps to increase market share.
- Good branding helps you plan for the future.
Let’s dig into some of the specifics of these key benefits.
Good branding exposes you to new customers
“If you don’t give the market the story to talk about, they’ll define your brand’s story for you.” -David Brier, branding expert and author of Brand Intervention.
If you don’t take control of your branding, it sends a message that your company doesn’t care enough to have a personality. Branding solves this problem by creating a unique perception of your company.
At its core, branding is a matter of identifying your brand. Branding experts recommend establishing a branding style guide, including the color palette, fonts, graphic styles, and other elements that all contribute to a harmonious visual style. The visuals of your brand are like the uniform that identifies the company.
But it’s more than a uniform — it’s closer to a unique outfit. Hand-picked to tell the world exactly who your brand is and what it’s about.
Your brand identity includes aspects other than the visuals, like goals, mission, and values. It’s basically the sort of person your brand would be, if it was a human being.
And just like you can tell certain things about a person the first time you meet them, your brand is sending out signals and messages to new customers, too. And this is true whether you give attention to corporate branding or not.
Taking an active role in your branding enables you to send a clear message that continues to draw new customers in, even after their initial encounter.
Good branding targets your ideal customers
Part of drawing new customers in includes knowing how to target your key demographic. And branding can do that, too.
Think about what demographics tell us about consumers. They tell us who is more or less likely to go shopping, what stores are more likely to appeal to a certain demographic, and what the best way is to reach those sets of consumers. Time constraints, income constraints, availability of products, access to online retailers — all of these play a part.
With solid demographic knowledge under your belt, you can design branding visuals and a branding message that appeals directly to your consumer base. Keying in specifics such as location and geography, lifestyle, socio-economics, age and gender, and other demographics, gives you the building blocks you need to create visuals that leap out at your target audience, from the logo to the marketing materials. That cuts down on some of the more broad-ranging marketing efforts that you might have expended otherwise.
A great example of this is the Tatari logo (pictured above). Last year’s logo redesign had some people scratching their heads, but that isn’t the only branded visual that the corporation has. A key aspect of the visuals is a focus on people and media — and every part of the visual is carefully chosen to draw in not only the clients for the brand studio but also to sustain its advertising agency logo as a brand image.
Good branding promotes loyalty
“If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.” -Howard Schultz, former CEO of Starbucks
Everyone wants loyal customers — they’re the base for growth and success for any company. So how can corporate branding help in this field?
It falls along the same lines as identifying your brand to new customers — good branding also involves identifying your brand to your existing consumers, too. Familiarity with branding is often a big part of what spurs us to make a purchase.
If you’re not sure what I mean, just think of the last time you took a road trip and only got off the highway because you saw the green Starbucks sign. You knew what that green meant, and you knew you could trust the store to provide what you expected, even if you had never been to that particular location before.
That’s excellent branding.
In the same way, good branding creates a dialogue between the consumer and the brand, even if that dialogue only happens on an emotional level. After the first good experience with your brand, your customer forms more of an attachment to the company. After that, they’re more likely to seek out further interactions or make further purchases. Good branding facilitates that, and makes it easier for a customer who wants to be loyal to actually follow through on that loyalty.
Good branding reflects the values of the corporation behind it. Those values are seen in the messaging in the branding, such as the style of the visuals and the taglines and slogans that accompany those visuals.
Image source: Medium.com
One classic example of excellent messaging is Audi. The car manufacturer uses the slogan “Advancement through technology,” reflecting a brand that prides itself on being cutting-edge, always moving forward, and a smart choice for consumers.
That messaging gives your audience more incentive to identify with your brand, and more reason to remain loyal.
Good branding helps increase market share
Good branding leads to loyalty, which leads to company growth — which leads to expanded market share.
Establishing a good brand for your corporation makes it easier to launch your products, either brand new ones or to bring them into new areas. That branding has already created a good foothold. Basically, your reputation precedes you.
Even if your new consumers haven’t had personal interactions with your company, if they’ve heard of your brand, they’re more likely to invest in a first-time experience. That familiarity can be the tipping point for the average consumer to make a choice between products.
A well-known example of this would be the concept of store-brand products. Take Walmart as an example. Their corporate branding is simple, memorable, and ubiquitous; the store brands, like Great Value, follow the corporation’s lead. Great Value lists hundreds of products, a list which is ever increasing, and has striven to establish itself as a reasonably-priced alternative to other well-known national brands. As the brand continues to stretch to new products, the clear branding — and the reputation behind it — will help it to remain a contender for consumers.
Good branding helps you plan for the future
Throughout the life of any corporation, rebrands are inevitable. Just look at the history of some of the biggest companies still around today, and observe how their logos and visuals have changed over the years.
What’s really fascinating is that, sometimes, we don’t even remember that the branding was ever any different. I have vague memories of when Starbucks first emerged as a company, but I don’t recall the logo being any different from what it is today — and yet it has gone through three major changes since its original logo in the 70s.
Consistency in good corporate branding
Establishing an identifiable, on-message brand now will make it easier to adapt that same brand later on. It also makes it easier to retain your loyal customers and continue to build your brand without losing ground when you make changes to your visuals.
Make the commitment to a future-forward branding effort now, knowing that you may need to adapt later on. It not only makes the switch much less painful — it actually benefits your company in the long run.
You can do this by not making your branding overly specific. You may have a major product that is the feature of your company this year, but keep in mind that your product line may change over time, and new ones may be even more popular.
Focus on overall corporate branding, rather than on anything too specific. Choose logos and visuals that will encompass new interests and focuses — and, above all, make sure to harmonize your brand with the personality and goals of the corporation.