There are many who misuse the term of branding to equate to their advertising plans.
But branding is a separate, significant strategic process that incorporates considerable research, assessment and planning. Once completed, a brand strategy should be consistent and ongoing, but should occasionally over time be put through a “re-branding” process to maximize sales or gains.
Review is more necessary than in the past thanks to rapidly changing digital approaches to brands. Whether your organization makes products or offers services, brand mistakes can be costly in terms of lost opportunity costs or actual costs.
Types of branding
Overall, a brand is intended to stimulate recognition and to help develop the personality and reputation of a product, service or business. Product branding at first glance seems easiest to examine. For example, the Under Armour brand, thanks to its logo and strategic and ongoing campaigns, is highly recognized worldwide and stands out in the ‘battle of the mind’ for sports brand recognition. Choosing up-and-coming athlete stars has helped create a brand for this company as the go-to products in diverse sports.
I recently witnessed proud youngsters and their parents wearing UA logo products in two international airports. This bodes well for the brand across generations and continents, but will take continuing focus in this competitive arena.
Personal branding is an important approach for authors, professionals, politicians, etc. Public relations efforts and focus help define the individual’s brand and hoped-for status in the chosen field. Think of a well-known author, lawyer or a politician who shows up on CNN, etc., or writes op-eds for newspapers and online publications. These individuals focus and consistently work on creating their brand and image.
Again, only a few individuals can receive brand recognition in a given field. You want to be known as the best lawyer or physician for specialty x, y or z. Thoughtful current branding efforts are usually far more effective than the alternative of paying an exorbitant fee to be included (and buried) in a published list of practitioners.
Corporate branding is essential in this era of social media. Businesses need to develop and maintain an image in the marketplace. Corporate culture and community service are integral parts of this process. If a problem arises, the corporate brand reputation can help sustain the business, or the company may need to develop a completely new image for its brand. United Airlines is no doubt still grappling with that issue now.
Cultural branding and geographic branding are useful for the tourism business. Florida sunshine (at least pre-Hurricane Irma), New York cultural activities, California wines etc. help to develop a brand image based on location.
New approaches are key
How are companies focusing on renewed branding efforts? Renegade, a Hunt Valley-based but nationally focused integrated marketing and advertising communications firm, is at the forefront of helping businesses and organizations grow with a “strategy-first” branding approach. Chris Beutler serves as Renegade’s chief vision officer. His very title tells you the approach used when starting on a project with Chris and his team regarding brand positioning and development.
Renegade helps established brands re-think their pre-internet approaches. Chris comments, “This is a great time to start with an audit of current practices and tactics and determine where best to apply funds and efforts.” He adds that, “We are in an era of expanded market segmentation opportunities through brand sentiment and content, not just one voice to all but identified distinct approaches to reach age, gender and other product or brand target groups.”
According to Renegade, use of just standard branding approaches alone would leave businesses behind in this digital age. This current thought process is another key insight for personal branders as well as for service organizations choosing to be successful over time. Brand carefully, consistently and with an ongoing eye for the changing marketplace.
Glenda LeGendre is principal of Strategic Marketing and Communications and can be reached at email@example.com.