By Rohi Mhere
HAVE you ever wondered what Branding really is, I get the question “what is Branding” more often than normal from my clients, it seems that the continuous abuse of terminology has left many Entrepreneurs young and old confused about what the term Branding really means.
Most of them think that branding is just having a couple of stationery tools designed and their Company Car wrapped in their logo and having their employees wear the company’s corporate wear. However, company branding is one tiny piece of a bigger puzzle.
To better understand the concept first let’s describe what a Brand is? The term brand has for many years been described in many ways by different scholars due to their level of engagement with different businesses in different industries, but the best definition of a brand describes it as an experience that comes as a result of the engagement that a consumer does with your business, Brands live and are created in the mind, they are an intangible experience.
Just like Jeff Bezos said, “A Brand is what other people say about you / your company when you are not in the room.” This perception of your business by the customer is what we describe as a Brand, customers create brands in their minds, every single customer you have has a different brand(perception) about your business. Now that we have understood what a Brand is let’s now describe what Branding is.
Branding now is a process of shaping the consumers perceptions towards our business. Branding has the power to shape our perceptions, like it or not our perceptions are very malleable to being shaped and influenced. Our minds are constantly trying to find something to relate with hence we present ourselves as vulnerable to being influenced.
One might ask why I am valuing perceptions so much, get this, in business, perceptions certainly don’t go out and buy a product but they most certainly influence a consumer’s behavior to buy this product over that product, so the fact that perceptions are a very powerful tool to influence behavior is why I value them so much as a Brand developer. The power of Branding hinges a crucial truth about perceptions.
Psychologically speaking as far as human brains are concerned, there’s no practical difference between perception and reality. What we perceive is what is real to us. This is where we see the real power of Branding. If branding can shape our perceptions, and our perceptions are our reality, it follows that Branding has the power to shape reality. The power to architect a consumer’s reality lies in Branding, this is why big companies like Amazon, Nike etc. spend millions of dollars on it because they know just how effective it is.
Its only us small scale entrepreneurs who disregard Branding because we have not yet grasped its power and what it can achieve for our businesses, this is a tool that only wise entrepreneurs can wield in order to take their business to another level.
There are 3 important elements that are considered when Branding your business, these include Brand Positioning, Brand Architecture and Brand Experience.
- Brand Positioning
Brand positioning is very critical because it tries to communicate your business’s unique value to your consumers. When you position your brand, you define the position it occupies in the minds or lives of those you serve (consumers), what position is your brand taking in their lives, how are you different from your competitors, are you a luxury brand or a budget brand are you conservative or provocative.
Brand positioning shapes customer preferences, dictates buying behaviour, and serves as the basis for customer loyalty. The world’s strongest brands are positioned in ways that feel timeless and intrinsic.
By first understanding what you represent, your values, your mission and vision, your goals, your competition and your Unique value proposition you can ensure that your brand is positioned as distinct, valuable, timeless and impossible to forget.
- Brand Architecture
Brand Architecture is the visual identity of the brand it is the coordinated system of visual elements of a brand that include names, colours, symbols, imagery and the visual language that defines your brand. Superior brand architecture is highly intentional and intuitive, it is founded on the research of the customers experience, needs and wants.
An intuitive brand architecture is the best way to bring your business’s range of offerings (products/services) into focus, letting you better cross-promote them and gain control over how your brand is perceived by consumers.
- Brand Experience
Brand experience is how the customer can experience your brand; this is a well thought out process that needs time for you to develop something that your consumer can relate with emotionally. This ranges from how your brand looks, sounds, feels, smells and taste. From your marketing to your in-store experience, website experience, social media experience and product experience and everything in-between.
The best brand experiences are those born from a purpose that is meaningful, memorable, authentic and, above all, consistent very consistent. Cultivating an effective brand experience is the most powerful way to engage your customers senses and emotions in order to define a specific perception.
As we have seen, brands are ultimately perceptions and when you understand how integral branding is to influencing consumer behavior, you see that it’s more than just a tactic it is a long-term strategy that can yield measurable returns throughout the life of your company and it is something that we as African entrepreneurs certainly need to embrace well if we are to present ourselves as Market leaders.
Rohi Mhere is a Pan-African Brand Designer, Consultant, Strategists and Manager with a demonstrated history in the industry, he is also the founder of Drop Studios a Brand Design and Consultant Agency based in Marondera. He can be reached on email@example.com or on his WhatsApp number: 071 682 0699