What is Branding and How Important is it to Your Marketing Strategy?

By Laura Lake, About.com Guide

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See More About: company branding what makes a good brand Sponsored Links Strategic MarketingWeb based business simulation for advanced marketing courses.www.Marketplace-Simulation.com Free Advertising For 1500Start Running Your Own Ads Here. Fill Out the Form & We'll Help You!www.Google.com/AdWords Brand enhancementSecure your brand and create direct link with your consummerswww.prooftag.net Marketing Ads BrandingMarketing StrategyBrand MarketingMarketing PromotionOnline Branding Awareness The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a "name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.

Therefore it makes sense to understand that branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but it is about getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem.

The objectives that a good brand will achieve include:

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Delivers the message clearly Confirms your credibility Connects your target prospects emotionally Motivates the buyer Concretes User Loyalty

To succeed in branding you must understand the needs and wants of your customers and prospects. You do this by integrating your brand strategies through your company at every point of public contact.

Your brand resides within the hearts and minds of customers, clients, and prospects. It is the sum total of their experiences and perceptions, some of which you can influence, and some that you cannot.

A strong brand is invaluable as the battle for customers intensifies day by day. It's important to spend time investing in researching, defining, and building your brand. After all your brand is the source of a promise to your consumer. It's a foundational piece in your marketing communication and one you do not want to be without.

A strong brand is invaluable as the battle for customers intensifies day by day. It's important to spend time investing in researching, defining, and building your brand. After all your brand is the source of a promise to your consumer. It's a foundational piece in your marketing communication and one you do not want to be without. In this first week's lesson we will discuss and lay the foundational concept of branding, what it is and what it is not.
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How To Define Your Brand This is the first step in the process of developing your brand strategy. By defining who your brand is you create the foundation for all other components to build on. Your brand definition will serve as your measuring stick in evaluating any and all marketing materials and strategies.
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Determining Your Brand's Objectives Critical to effective brand management is the clear definition of the brand's audience and the objectives that the brand needs to achieve. How do you go about defining those objectives and putting a plan into place that will help you succeed in meeting them.
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Focusing on Your Target Audience The power of your brand relies on the ability to focus. That is why defining your target market will help to strengthen your brand's effectiveness. Learn how to define your target market in this week's lesson of the Developing Your Brand's Strategy course.
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Discovering and Crushing Your Brand Barriers When creating your brand strategy for a product or service it is important to perform a careful analysis to determine principal barriers that you may come in contact with. These barriers are also known as market conditions that can keep your product or service from achieving success. In this lesson you will learn where you can do the research to find your specific brand barriers.

Branding is perhaps the most important facet of any business--beyond product, distribution, pricing, or location. A company's brand is its definition in the world, the name that identifies it to itself and the marketplace. A model may be beautiful, but without a name, she's just "that girl in that picture." Where would Norma Jean be without Marilyn Monroe, or who would imagine Coca-Cola as just a soft-drink manufacturer? A brand provides a concrete descriptor to customers and competitors alike, a name for a product or service to distinguish it from anything else. Bob may run a hobby shop, but trying to advertise as "The hobby shop a guy named Bob runs down the street a ways" is financial suicide. Each customer will have to describe the shop, who Bob is, and what the shop does every time someone asks about it. This makes the process of recommending a good hobby shop too much work for the average customer, and far too much work for a user looking for hobby shops on the Internet. A customer looking up Bob's hobby shop will have an easier time of it if he or she knows to refer to it as "Bob's House of Hobbies," and the customer can then refer others to Bob's hobby shop by name, increasing the potential advertising exponentially. Developing a brand involves more than just picking a catchy name and placing an ad in the newspaper--a brand is more than a unique string of letters denoting a particular product; a successful brand is a mnemonic trigger that makes a consumer feel a certain way when the brand is thought of. For those who drink cola-flavored soft drinks, which is more appealing on a hot day: a cold cola soda, or an ice-cold Coke? Coca-Cola has spent 100 years developing their particular brand of cola-flavored soda as a refreshing beverage and a seminal representation of a market segment. Coca-Cola has used a combination of direct marketing, give-away techniques, and multi-product cross-branding to achieve maximum brand recognition and visibility in not only its immediately competitive market, but in markets as diverse as Coca-Cola branded race cars and housewares. Brand loyalty is an integral part of building a brand, as consumers usually have a choice of products in the same market segment, and so a successful company will come up with a way to keep consumers re-buying their product or coming back to their location rather than going to a competitor. These brand loyalty-building efforts may come in the form of coupons, incentives such as many grocery chains' technique of "grocery discount cards" or "loss leaders," meant to draw consumers into the store, where they will hopefully buy products along with the discounted fare at a higher profit ratio. In exchange for these discounts and grocery cards, many companies collect information about buying habits and average spending amounts, the better to tailor advertisements and better-focus future promotional efforts. Once a consumer is hooked, brand loyalty tends to result in higher sales volume, as well as loyal customers being less sensitive to price

changes of their favorite brands (within reason, of course), as well as less sensitive to competitors' incentives. Studies have shown that it takes 5 times as much money to gain a customer as it does to retain one. That's 5 times as much money as could have been spent on other things. A brand is who your company is, and what it is selling--it is as important as naming a baby, and should require the same amount of effort to develop it, but if done well, can mature into a successful and profitable adult. As consumers, we don't really think about the importance of branding. We just seem to go with the flow of brand names that have become synonymous with our daily living. But the impact of a name reinforces the importance of branding when we promote our business. Think about one of the world's most popular athletic shoe companies, Nike. The importance of branding is exemplified by the fact that when you hear Nike, you think athletics and "Just Do It." A great brand name and association has catapulted Nike to the top of its industry. When you are considering the name of your company, you need to remember the importance of branding. Deciding on a name is not a fluke, but instead is a well thought out process and analysis of names and meaning. The importance of branding begins with creating a simple name for your company. Consumers remember simple. Also, making sure your name can be associated with a positive value, characteristic, or position is part of the importance of branding. Consumers like products to which they can associate positive qualities. Another aspect of the importance of branding is that your name must be different and unique. If your name is too close to another company's then people are likely to mix you up, which reduces revenue. Also, the importance of branding needs to be voiced to your employees so that your message is clear to all of your employees and the public. If you have a vision or goal statement, then you need to voice the importance of branding here also. Employees need to understand the importance of branding so that it is communicated in the office and to consumers every day. The message you are trying to get across in branding depends on your employees putting it out there to consumers. Still don't think there is any importance of branding as it applies to your company? Well consider that brand name recognition can increase your profits by between 10 to 20 percent. If you are looking to increase your profits, then you may come to understand the importance of branding. Analyze the importance of branding and determine how you can use your name to promote positive qualities. Encourage your employees to learn about the importance of branding and to put the branding message out to the consumer. Believe in your brand name, what it means, and consumers will follow.
From Essential & Effective Marketing for the Specialty Coffee Retailer, a Bellissimo Coffee InfoGroup Publication A number of years ago, a friend of mine was preparing to open a small, but very unique, Mexican restaurant in Eugene, Oregon. He asked me how much I thought he should spend on developing a logo. He told me he had two good friends who were "part-time artists" and that he was considering having one of them create the design. One said he would charge him a few hundred dollars, the other said he would trade him a design for some free meals. I told him using either person could be a tragic mistake, one he would regret for years. I recommended a skilled designer in town who quoted him a price of $1500 for the job. After some discussion, he went with the professional. The friend I'm referring to is Ed Arvidson, the co-founder of Bellissimo. Ed told me several years later that initially he felt he had spent too much on branding, but finally came to realize that the logo was worth much more than the $1500 he'd spent on its development. He told me that during the years he owned his business, many customers had complimented him on the logo, describing it as "cool" and "cutting-edge." Ed used his logo in his television advertising as well as on hats and T-shirts. Ed's logo became a well-known symbol in the community.

What is Branding?
Branding is not only your logo but also your business name. Great names evoke intrigue, savvy and class, and tell customers a lot about who

you are. When you begin the branding process, think first about your name. Next, envision an image that works with that name. Finally, create a byline, which is a short sentence that describes who you are or what you stand for. Here's an example. I named of one of my first coffee bars "Caffe Primavera." In Italian, "Primavera" means springtime. For my logo I used a Corinthian column with a floral theme at its base, surrounded by two renaissance angels. The byline I chose was "Coffee delivered from heaven." There are many examples of expired branding in the coffee world. Let's look at Seattle's Caffe D'arte (Italian for "coffee of art"). Its simple logo incorporates the company name and a cup in a design that uses traditional Italian colors. Its byline, "Taste the Difference," tells you a lot. It indicates this company has traditional Italian coffee and suggests it is a high quality product. Another Seattle coffee company with impressive branding is Caffe Vita. Its logo features an Italian clown holding a cup. The image is classy, whimsical and reminds me of Carnival in Venice, reinforcing the link to Italy, the Mecca of espresso. The company uses its name and branding in fun and unique ways, probably more so than any other company in the industry. Recently the company gave away black hats with an embroidered logo that simply said "Caffe Vita." But for the younger crowd, as a very creative and unique promotion, the company created cheap black and white foam baseball hats that from a distance read "VITA SUCKS." Upon closer inspection, you could read small print that said, "VITA is great! What SUCKS is when you can't find any!"

Your Byline
You can't underestimate the importance of a great byline in your marketing program. In addition to the bylines noted above, here are some fictional examples: Albany Coffee: "Your Hometown Roaster," and Anchorage Coffeehouse: ""Hot Brews for a Cold Day." Remember, your byline should tell your customers what your mission is in one easily remembered concise statement.

Why Branding is Important
Your brand is more than a series of words; it is your corporate identity. Your name and logo should tell people who have never been to your establishment something about you. Your brand should be strong enough to convey a message and a feeling in an instant. When you run a small newspaper ad, besides a Website, phone number and address, your logo may be all someone has by which to judge your business. If your logo looks professional, it alone may be the reason that someone decides to visit your coffee establishment for the first time. When you are developing your identity, first define your target or niche market and make sure your branding speaks to those groups. For example, if you are located close to a university or college, your branding should appeal to the young adults who will probably be your main source of income. If your operation is in a downtown district, it would be wise to create branding that will be attractive to office workers and business people. If you're in a suburban shopping mall, you will probably want to develop an identity that will engage mothers, shoppers and area residents. Properly executed branding can set small chains and independent retailers apart from the big chains. World Cup Coffee & Tea, a small chain in Portland specializing in organic, shade-grown, fair-trade and relationship coffees, has created branding with thematic ties to its niche marketcoffee consumers who are interested in the social issues surrounding coffee. So its branding is colorful and fun, with an International and ecological flavor, suggesting an affinity with the environment and sustainability issues. I have seen many small companies make the mistake of choosing an identity too quickly. Sometimes when Bellissimo arrives to train retailers on-site, the first thing we see is a sign with a poorly designed logo. We do our best to explain how to use these ill-conceived logos, but to be honest, if the identity is not professional, do you want to see it everywhere you look? A good rule of thumb is to have as many people as possible look at your prospective logo before you invest any money in it. Garner the opinions of people whose taste you trust. Taste may be subjective, the law is less so. From a legal standpoint, it is extremely important to check with your attorney before finalizing your name to avoid copyright infringement. Every state has different laws regarding business names. A client of mine in Arizona wanted to register the name "Caffe Paradiso," but because there was already a "Paradise Café" in the state, my client was unable to use the name. In other states, the name may have been acceptable. Make sure you follow the proper registration procedures in your state so you will not have to change your name years later because of an infringement violation.

Options are Endless
If you have a great logo and brand, you can add another profit center to your business by selling retail items. The sale of retail merchandise can put additional dollars in your till each and every day if your brand is visually appealing and cool.

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Logo items you can sell include: T-shirts / Sweatshirts Mugs / Coasters Thermal mugs Branded pre-sold coffee cards Hats Chocolates Even Frisbees! These may cost a little bit to produce, but remember that selling retail merchandise emblazoned with your branding amounts to free advertising. To soften the blow, many establishments sell this type of retail item at a small markup. Even if you only make a dollar on a Tshirt, the true value lies in the marketing bang you get by having people promoting your product outside of your store. Paper to-go cups with your logo that employees take back to an office are great advertising. If you can't afford to have them pre-printed, use stickers. The point is: always think of the residual effects that your branding can have on your business. If you are a new operation, hire a professional to help you conceive and execute your branding program and assist you with your marketing. If you are an existing establishment and feel you made poor choices when developing your brand, you may want to consider re-branding.

However, this can prove costly, and may not make sense, especially if your business is well established. Many companies choose to re-brand from time to time if their name and logo has a dated and worn look or feel. Branding and identity are two of the most important parts of your overall marketing program. Your marketing materials, your menu board and your signage will all incorporate its elements. Think hard, take your time and if need be, hire a professional.

The Importance of Branding...
Branding Basics By John Williams What exactly is a brand and what does it do for your biz? These simple insights will help you develop your own.

Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small, retail or B2B. An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in mean? How does it affect a small business like yours?

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates yo are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.

Are you the innovative maverick in your industry? Or the experienced, reliable one? Is your product the high-cost, high-quality option, or the low-co all people. Who you are should be based to some extent on who your target customers want and need you to be.

The foundation of your brand is your logo. Your website, packaging and promotional materials--all of which should integrate your logo--communica Brand Strategy & Equity

Your brand strategy is how, what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering on your brand messages. Where you adve part of your brand strategy. And what you communicate visually and verbally are part of your brand strategy, too.

Consistent, strategic branding leads to a strong brand equity, which means the added value brought to your company's products or services that al products command. The most obvious example of this is Coke vs. a generic soda. Because Coca-Cola has built a powerful brand equity, it can cha The added value intrinsic to brand equity frequently comes in the form of perceived quality or emotional attachment. For example, Nike associates emotional attachment from the athlete to the product. For Nike, it's not just the shoe's features that sell the shoe. Defining Your Brand

Defining your brand is like a journey of business self-discovery. It can be difficult, time-consuming and uncomfortable. It requires, at the very least,

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What is your company's mission? What are the benefits and features of your products or services? What do your customers and prospects already think of your company? What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?

Do your research. Learn the needs, habits and desires of your current and prospective customers. And don't rely on what you think they think. Kno

Because defining your brand and developing a brand strategy can be complex, consider leveraging the expertise of a nonprofit small-business adv Once you've defined your brand, how do you get the word out? Here are a few simple, time-tested tips:

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Get a great logo. Place it everywhere. Write down your brand messaging. What are the key messages you want to communicate about your brand? Every employee should

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Integrate your brand. Branding extends to every aspect of your business--how you answer your phones, what you or your salespeople Create a "voice" for your company that reflects your brand. This voice should be applied to all written communication and incorpora friendly? Be conversational. Is it ritzy? Be more formal. You get the gist. Develop a tagline. Write a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand. Design templates and create brand standards for your marketing materials. Use the same color scheme, logo placement, look and Be true to your brand. Customers won't return to you--or refer you to someone else--if you don't deliver on your brand promise.

Be consistent. I placed this point last only because it involves all of the above and is the most important tip I can give you. If you can't d

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