Business Branding 101

By Jacki Kilbride - Published on March 19, 2020
A Brief Explanation About What is Branding

Think about this: a consistent brand image across all platforms can boost your revenue by up to 23%(1). If you already have a solid branding strategy in place, numbers like those are no doubt music to your ears. But what if you don’t?

Simply put, you are missing out on potential customers. With a little bit of planning, however, you can easily integrate branding into your overall marketing strategy.

What is Branding?

One simple definition of branding is that it is the act of establishing your brand. Any actions taken in support of your brand constitute branding. This could range from creating a logo to sponsoring a community event. One example that occurs during the holidays when some companies air season’s greetings-themed commercials that have little to do with their product.

Importance of Branding

  • It helps your business receive recognition from potential customers. We’ll go over some examples of this later, but for now, just consider the red background and white writing of a can of Coca-Cola.When you see that combination– the red and the white with that distinctive font– there is a strong probability that your brain automatically recognizes it as a Coca-Cola product. This is because of the company’s effective branding strategy.
  • The revenue-boosting abilities of branding provide a tremendous value to your business. In many cases, your efforts more than pay for themselves.
  • It helps you stand out. For example, it’s easy to tell Burger King and McDonalds apart, as they have different logos, tones, and colors associated with them.
  • It tells people about your business, what it’s made of, and what it cares about.
  • Through your brand, you are promising a consistent experience to your customer.
  • A consistent brand experience can create trust within the marketplace.
  • The trust inspired by branding can help generate referrals and positive word-of-mouth– something that is invaluable to an organization.
  • Strong branding also provides staff with motivation and direction, helping to support a thriving company culture.
  • It can even support your advertising, allowing you to spend more time on your message and less time on establishing trust with the consumer.
  • It help customers know what to expect. You always know what that cup of coffee from Starbucks is going to taste like.
  • Your branding strategy helps guide your company actions. Part of staying consistent as a brand is making sure everything you do is supported by your brand’s mission.
  • It serves as a foundation for your advertising campaign. If you have a well-established brand, you can focus more on your message and less on earning trust.

Also read: Benefits of Branding for a Successful Business )

Types Of Branding

  • Product Branding and image

    Many product manufacturers establish a solid brand, with the ultimate goal of dominating a given category. Examples of this include Xerox and Kleenex– both brands whose names have become literally synonymous with the products they produce.

  • Personal Branding

    In an election year, it’s easy to think of examples of personal branding. Each candidate must create their own personal brand, and whoever appeals to the voters more wins. Celebrities, bloggers, and TV personalities are all examples of people who may establish a personal brand.

  • Corporate Branding

    Corporations also participate in order to establish goodwill in the marketplace. An example of this is the company Quicken Loans, which has sponsored many community improvements in the Detroit area, where the organization is headquartered.

  • Geographical Branding

    Entire geographic locations can become branded, as well. State tourism campaigns are one example of this. Utah, for example, brands itself as the place to go to visit national parks. Michigan, meanwhile, capitalizes on its proximity to the Great Lakes.

  • Retail Branding

    It can be tricky because there are two primary goals: a retailer wants to differentiate itself and its own line of products while also promoting other, potentially competing products. Consider the retailer Target, whose retailer-brands such as Up & Up and Archer Farms directly compete with other products in the store.

  • Co-Branding

    It occurs when two or more brands gear up to brand themselves together. This can easily happen when two brands are used to create one product– such as a Dell computer with an Intel processor inside or Taco Bell serving Doritos tacos.

Elements of Business Branding

  1. Brand name

    One element that can’t be ignored is the brand name. When marketed well, a brand name can become synonymous with a product, as in the examples we mentioned earlier of Xerox and Kleenex.

    A well-established brand name can receive instant consumer recognition– when you see an ad for Nike, for example, you know it’s an ad for athletic apparel. They don’t need to waste time establishing their brand– it’s already well-known.

  2. Logo

    Equally powerful is a recognizable logo. Going back to Nike, you could just as easily see their trademark swoosh logo in an advertisement and know it’s an ad for athletic gear. That’s because the swoosh is widely associated with Nike. A few other brands with recognizable logos include Target, Pepsi, Apple, and Mercedes-Benz.

  3. Website URL

    Another, often-overlooked element of branding is the company’s website address. This can easily become a part of a brand’s identity, and it’s a huge benefit to the brand if it does.

    Having consumers recognize your URL can lead them to your website, providing you with an opportunity for interaction. Some brands with well-known URL’s include Google, Amazon, and Hotwire.

  4. Color

    Although difficult, some brands have succeeded in integrating colors into their brand identity. Think Coca-Cola red, Tiffany blue, and the golden arches at McDonald’s. These brands have, through advertising and presence in the marketplace, made sure that the average consumer associates those colors with those brands, and with a huge payoff– color increases brand recognition by up to 80%(2).

  5. Theme line

    Also known as a tagline, this can be a useful element of branding if done well. A tagline can become ingrained in consumers’ minds, which can be highly advantageous for a brand. Let’s go back again to Nike, this time focusing on their “just do it” tagline.

    Having that tagline allows them another way to connect with consumers, who are in turn more likely to buy from a band that “gets” them.

  6. Shape

    The shape of a product can become a part of a brand’s identity, as well, particularly if that product has a distinctive outline. Some brands will even go so far as to trademark a given shape, which should tell you how valuable an element it can be.

    Brands with distinctive shapes include Crocs shoes, Volkswagen buses, and Mrs. Buttersworth syrup.

  7. Graphics

    A brand’s graphics are another important element of branding. The images your brand uses on social media and other websites can help enhance your brand’s identity. They set a tone not only for your company’s culture but also for the way people perceive it.

    What’s more, graphics allow brands with an opportunity to connect with consumers. Look at GoPro, who has over 16 million followers on Instagram.

  8. Vision

    Your company’s vision for itself plays into branding in a big way. Take REI, whose #OptOut campaign and Black Friday closures buck tradition while supporting the company’s corporate vision and mission. Consumers responded positively, and the brand experienced a 23% increase in online sales(3).

  9. Sound

    The more senses you can engage with, the more memorable your brand would be. Sounds that are catchy and easily repeatable are memorable to consumers. State Farm’s “like a good neighbor, State Farm is there,” jingle is one example of sound in branding, as is Kit Kat’s “give me a break” song.

How to Brand Your Business Online?

  • Find your purpose

    To build a brand, you first need to determine what it is that your brand is trying to accomplish. Let’s say you run a donut shop. Is your purpose just to make donuts? Or is it to make the best donuts around while supporting your community? Consumers are much more likely to support a brand inspiring to do the latter. Figure out what it is that makes your brand tick.

  • Scout out the competition

    If you want to successfully position your brand in the marketplace, you need to know who already exists there, what they are doing well, and where there is room to grow. You don’t want to try and brand yourself as a fast-food restaurant in an area where Burger King, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s already dominate the market.

    Rather, you could position yourself as the place to go for a gourmet burger fast– scouting out the competition allows you to differentiate yourself from them.

  • Pick a target demographic

    You can’t please everyone, and for that reason, it’s best if you figure out early on who you want to target with your branding. Coffee giant Starbucks, for example, targets men and women ages 18-44, because they comprise almost half(4) of the retailer’s customer base.

    The NFL, on the other hand, gears its branding more towards the male 50-55 crowd(5). Knowing your target demographic allows you to better focus your branding and advertising in general.

  • Draft a mission statement

    Consumers want to know what your organization stands for, and they tend to resonate better with companies whose mission statement is in line with their personal values. If you aren’t sure how to come up with a mission statement, consider what things are important to both your brand and your target demographic.

  • Determine your strong suit

    What is your brand good at? What are the things that make you stand apart from the competition? These are your brand’s strengths, and they should be at the heart of any branding campaign you do. Pick the one or two things your brand does best, and run with it.

  • Set a tone for your brand

    One brand that has done this exceptionally well is Nadia’s Cakes, a Minnesota bakery with a solid social media presence. This is a brand that lets its personality shine, with great results– the bakery has over 225,000 followers on Facebook alone. Find a tone that resonates with your followers and stay consistent with it for the best results.

  • Broadcast your message

    Once your brand has something to say, it’s time to spread that to the world. Share your brand’s story and its message, and feature it in your advertising campaigns. Some brands will opt to share their story on their packaging (think snack foods that share how the recipe came to be within a certain family), or on social media. However you share it, just get your story out there.

  • Integrate graphic design and advertising

    Once you’ve built up the meat and potatoes of your brand, you can start to consider the graphic design aspect. What do you want your logo to look like? Do you want to have a slogan? Design something that matches the look, feel, and culture that you want to be associated with your brand.

  • Make sure your culture reflects your values

    Everything your brand does should be a reflection of your mission statement. If your brand’s mission is to make a difference in the community but you don’t take part in any community events, consumers may begin to doubt your commitment to your mission.

  • Be consistent

    Don’t use one logo in one advertisement and a completely different one the next. Once you decide on your branding strategy, stick with it. You’ll gain consumer recognition much faster if you put forth a consistent image.

Also read: Brand Awareness: Everything You Need To Know )

Examples of Business Branding

Before you dive into your own branding strategy, it may be helpful to look at some other companies that have successfully branded themselves.

  1. Apple

    Apple has been successful in creating a lifestyle brand. Apple focuses heavily on emotion in its branding strategy, making the buyer feel empowered to be creative and imaginative. As a result, Apple enthusiasts are often fiercely loyal to their brand.

  2. Coca-Cola

    Branding is a part of the very core of Coca-Cola. The company’s advertisements typically feature polar bears and have little to do with the product itself, but the very presence of the red and white logo elicits recognition from consumers.

  3. McDonald’s

    The key to McDonald’s success as a brand is its consistency. You get the same experience at every restaurant, and that’s the sort of thing that establishes trust with consumers. They know when they visit the golden arches, they can get the same meal in Toledo as they can in Los Angeles.

  4. ZARA

    Clothing retailer Zara established its brand by providing consumers with up-to-date fashion trends in stores– something that most other retailers are unable to keep up with, setting Zara apart from its competitors.

  5. Uber

    Uber is a company that has rebranded itself multiple times over the years. Although it has struggled with a tarnished reputation in the past, the company has overcome that and remains a popular rideshare option.

  6. Amazon

    Retailer giant Amazon set itself apart from its competitors by offering more of a selection at a better price. While speed may have been a drawback compared to brick and mortar stores, the online retailer increased its delivery speeds to be competitive while offering consumers the convenience of staying at home.

Difference between Branding and Marketing

Branding is who you are. Your brand represents your organization’s values, its culture, its mission statement. Marketing is how you bring awareness to your product, service, or organization. Your marketing strategy should support your brand.

Final Thoughts

If you don’t currently have a branding strategy, you are missing out on potential customers. It helps bring recognition to an organization, and it’s something that, if done well, can directly translate to increases in revenue. Consider going through the steps to create a brand for your organization, and watch it grow.

Jacki Kilbride

Jacki Kilbride | Jacki Kilbride is a freelance writer and marketing nerd who recently earned her MPA. When she’s not writing or diving into research, she can usually be found hiking or traveling with her family.

Jacki Kilbride

Jacki Kilbride | Jacki Kilbride is a freelance writer and marketing nerd who recently earned her MPA. When she’s not writing or diving into research, she can usuall...

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