WHAT is branding all about? What is it for? Quite simply, branding is about delivering confidence in a product or service, and is for securing customer loyalty, to enable business growth and sustainability. It is versatile enough to be translated in diverse ways across all borders, including cyberspace.
Branding is personal as well as corporate, traditional and electronic. The reality is, your brand is being delivered to every one you come into contact with whether you are aware of it or not.
The conscious part of branding to create awareness is approximately 20% and is visible – the physical touch points of appearance (logo, jingle, corporate colours, smiles, clothes, tag lines).
The subconscious part of branding is the 80% that secures confidence and loyalty that’s delivered via the service touch points – the warmth, accuracy, timeliness, sincerity, and willingness to keep promises made and to solve problems or offer solutions.
“Employees bring a brand to life. You have to make sure that processes reinforce what you’re trying to do with the brand internally,” noted Ian Buckingham, head of Interbrand Inside, in Internal Brand Alignment (August 2003, brandchannel.com).
“Alignment is about encouraging employees to behave in certain ways. And that means dabbling in psychology,” Edwin Colyer, science and technology writer, said in the same article.
Steps to securing confidence
Providing a positive experience is what brings customers back, regardless of the competition.
“The potential of the sincerity factor may explain in part why several brands have turned to genuineness or authenticity as a core identity.
“One motivation for going ‘genuine’ is to draw on a strong brand heritage and capture the reassurance and emotional links that such a heritage provides,” said David Aaker in Building Strong Brands, 2002.
The good news is, you can decide what the experience promises to be via the 20% (physical touch points) – your formal or informal advertising campaign. That’s the area that conveys awareness of your message.
Steps to gaining loyalty
The other 80% is the behaviour that delivers the promise of your message, and makes you the first choice (or not) in the customer’s mind.
This works with employees too and secures their commitment to meeting your objectives. Internal and external customers experience whether promises are kept, how crises are managed, how damage is controlled, and how you protect their interests. Their experience of your promise – matched against their expectations – is how decisions for staying loyal are made.
“The work of Montague and other studies prove that branding goes far beyond images and memory recall. Something clicks, and we are more likely to buy,” said Edwin Colyer in The Science of Branding (March 2004, brandchannel.com).
Colyer commented on the applications of neuroscience to business, with particular reference to a brain scan conducted on volunteer tasters who were given Pepsi and Coke by Read Montague, Director of the Human Neuroimaging Lab at Baylor College of Medicine.
When the volunteers didn’t know which brand they were drinking, they declared a preference for the taste of Pepsi. But when they were told which brand they were tasting, they said they preferred the Coke.
The scan images, however, recorded higher responses in the brain’s reward centres when they tasted the Pepsi. They preferred the taste of Pepsi, but the experiential image of Coke! Montague said, “You’ll never get rid of psychology and behavioural studies – that’s your ultimate end.”
The ultimate purpose
Customers aren’t just the buyers or staff – they are your business partners too. Anyone connected to you has the potential to promote, ignore, or demote your brand. Their loyalty secures your business strategies and increases your organisation’s market capitalisation. Their loyalty keeps you viable.
“The search for new ways to boost earnings is now under way. For many CEO’s, weathering the economic downturn demanded a focus on improving operations and supply chains and on reining in costs. But now that markets are starting to improve, companies are again looking to grow. For many, growth means breathing new life into existing brands.
The planning of your branding lies in assessing who and where your customers are and what they want, before deciding what you wish to deliver.
The experience of your Brand is projected by your people who answer customer’s phone calls, direct them to parking lots, open their doors, serve them, write letters and e-mail to them, as well as those who attend corporate meetings, seminars, make presentations, deliver legal and financial services, etc.
How can it be translated through every layer of performance?
Quite simply by being clear about what you can do, whom you are going to do it for, how you are going to do it, and how you are going to deliver your objectives, i.e. having a relevant mission.
Over time, this plan – if delivered consistently – will translate into how you and your brand (personal and corporate) are perceived, wherever you are, effortlessly. Then you can focus your energies on business expansion without unnecessary distractions!
“What separates you from others with similar skills and abilities is your unique promise of value. Communicating that unique promise through all that you do enables you to stand out and greatly expand your success. But if you send messages that are incompatible, those around you will not know what you stand for or what to expect from you.
“When you are known for something, you can expand your target market or extend your offerings with ease,” noted William Arruda in Don’t be Changing when You should be Saming (July 2004, brandchannel.com).