I have always loved brands. When I was five, I couldn’t stop looking at the nine-lives cat on the side of the 9-volt EVEREADY battery. The simple silhouette of the feline with its electrified tail as it jumped through the loop of the number 9 was captivating. It was all the push I needed to insist that my parents buy the “cat batteries” whenever one of my childhood toys lost its charge. I was bought in. People fall in love with brands, and often, companies profit from their brands. But what is it about effective branding that creates authentic loyalty and drives success?
People fall in love with brands. And how we perceive brands affects their success.
Branding is a Promise
Your brand is more than just a logo. It’s a promise. A brand communicates who a company is, what they do, and what customers and employees can expect. A strong brand identity gives businesses a competitive advantage by ensuring customers remain loyal to a product or service. Conversely, a poorly represented or bad brand experience will directly impact a customer’s loyalty.
Whether a business is actively seeking to build a strong brand identity or ignoring it altogether, they are still presenting an image to their customer that will make or diminish trust. When brand identities are left to chance, companies lose the opportunity to shape the narrative and keep a customer returning. After all, marketing is the reason someone first buys, but branding is why someone continues to believe.
Branding is the Why
When explaining the difference between branding and marketing to partners, I often say that the brand we build will be like an exceptional engine. Without an adequately built engine, stakeholders waste precious marketing resources by pouring gasoline directly onto the ground. The opposite is also true. No matter how nice we build their engine or how much time we spend developing their brand’s mechanics, it will never run on its own—it needs fuel. For companies to succeed, they need to know how to tell their story in a way that resonates with their target market, which requires strategy, and they need to know where and when their audience prefers to listen, which requires a tactical effort. In many ways, marketing is the how, while branding is the why. Unfortunately, many companies overspend on the how and forget that the average customer cares more about the why.
Branding is Long-term
If you have spent time in the marketing world, you have heard expressions like “I just need someone to run some ads for us” or “Can you help us with SEO?” These services aren’t a problem, but companies should not mistake short-term returns for lasting success. A brand legacy can take a lifetime to build and can be destroyed in only a moment through misdirected marketing tactics and misplaced performance marketing. Years ago, we were approached by a medical company that asked us to develop a campaign to increase employee hiring and retention after they had seen a successful project we worked on for another brand.
After talking with their leadership team, I realized that this project was dead on arrival. I told them that while I would love to help them, the project they were proposing would be a poor investment because while they seemed like a fantastic company, they had only ever invested in short-term marketing and, as a result, had no recognizable image. They had no brand equity. In the end, they agreed that focusing on developing a compelling brand was a better long-term investment and more profitable than simply developing a hiring campaign. If businesses want to thrive for a century and not die in a quarter, they need to know that branding is just as important as short-term performance marketing.
A brand legacy can take a lifetime to build and can be destroyed in only a moment through misdirected marketing tactics and misplaced performance marketing.
Branding is Worth the Investment
In many ways, a brand is a company’s most valuable asset. Millions of people buy into brands every day—most of us have had an EVEREADY moment or two in our lives. If a company truly wants to connect with its customers, they need to consider investing in its brand. After all, branding is a promise a business makes that reinforces why a customer emotionally connects with a product or service and buys long-term.
Build a brand that people will fall in love with. You won’t regret it, and your customers won’t forget it.