The terms brand and branding are not new. The origin of branding can be traced to ancient times, when craftsmen put their mark on the items that they made – this is effectively the beginning of a modern-day trade mark. The branding of farm animals to avoid theft by identify them as belonging to a particular person is also an ancient tradition dating back to as long ago as 2700 BC. In both of these examples we can see a direct connection with the use of brands in the modern day – to differentiate the products and services of one company from those of another and also to identify and protect the ownership of products and services.
Today the terms ‘Brand’ and ‘Branding’ are more commonly used to identify features that distinguishes the products and/or services of one organisation from those of its competitors. These features most commonly include logos, product or company names and slogans but can also include shapes, colours and smells, all of which can be used as part of a company’s branding package.
Somewhere along the line, the word “branding” got mixed up with “logo”. A logo is part of a company’s brand but it is not the brand in itself. Brands are far more than the graphical representation of the company and its products and services. A brand is the way in which a company represents it’s Corporate Identity to its customers, employees and other stakeholders and they drive the understanding of value in a product or company, and, perhaps most importantly, customer loyalty.
This means that the Brands Visual Identity and the Corporate Identity must be closely linked and must support each other so that the experience that consumers receive when dealing with a company and its products and services meet or exceed the standards that the brand communicates. For example, a ‘brand’ might promise high quality products combined with excellent customer service. The actions of the individuals within the company who make the product or deliver the service will ultimately determine if the promise made by the brand matches the expectations of the consumer.
The reputation of a brand in the marketplace is, therefore, not created overnight – it must be built over time and is the result of a lot of hard work firstly in creating the Corporate Identity which is the powerfully held beliefs of the company, then creating the Brand to communicate that identity and creating a culture within the company to deliver the promises made by the brand in a consistent way.
Finally, it is important for a company to ensure that the brand evolves as it develops and expands into new products and/or markets.