As we share more about branding startups, or brand building, we should lay the foundation of how we define and understand “brand” for businesses and start-ups. As entrepreneurs are embarking a journey of building a strong business, they are also keen on creating a valuable brand that can make their business grow and sustain in our hyper-competitive market.
This article will be our reference for future insights and learning on our blog.
Let’s start by dispelling few myths about what is a brand
Brand is an identity
One of the most common myths that your brand is created with your company logo. The identity is the first step of starting the brand. It is like naming a child and the child’s picture, it does not help us understand who is this child (what is this brand about), what is his/ her personality (brand personality/ avatar), his/ her behaviour (brand characteristics) which needs to be shaped and nurtured over a period of time. Hence, a brand is much more than its logo.
Brand is advertising
A brand cannot be made based on pure advertising or marketing without defining the brand’s core and its characteristics. Advertise, in its literal meaning, is to reach out to a mass audience about its product or service. It means we are advertising a product or service value which the customer should take interest and be willing to pay by using mass media channels.
Marketing as a medium is a set of activities which you extend from the brand core. Marketing uses multiple ideas, multiple channels to communicate about a singular idea of the brand personality, a strategy focused message to the audience. A brand value cannot be created just by pure advertising, but it has to reflect across all marketing activities, company operation, its employees and more. There are brands that sign up celebrities for endorsements in advertising, assuming that would create brand value among customers. With endorsements by various celebrities bombarded all over media, Indian consumers are intelligent enough to judge a brand based on their own experiences (product/ service/ event/ retail). Celebrity advertising only helps create a brand “perception” but the reality is if the consumer experience of the brand is not great, no celebrity can help create brand value which can help the business grow. Example: Shah Rukh Khan for Big Basket or Aamir Khan for Snapdeal, these celebrities can certainly be a brand ambassador or messenger of the brand positioning but not more.
Brand is a product or service
This is probably the most obvious answer to the definition of a brand, its product or service offered to customers. The brand is not just a product or service, as we have plenty of similar products but why does a customer buy a particular product? There are more than 1,780 cameras in the market, but why consumers buy Nikon? There are more than 110 mobile phone brands but why consumers buy I-phone or Samsung? Is the decision based purely on the product and its features or also the experience, brand value? There are several milk products offered on the market, some even tastier or healthier but consumers prefer “Amul” products, is that a brand decision?
The brand is much more than its product or service although a good or innovative product lays the foundation for a solid business. An innovative product helps a brand differentiate amongst competitors; helps create unique brand activities and experiences that hook the customers towards the product or service.
Entrepreneur can build a brand
It is a myth that brands can be built by businessmen and entrepreneurs or sometimes assume they are building the brand. So, entrepreneur is not the brand builder? Well, can an accountant build a business? Can an HR make the product? Can a COO lead marketing of the company? If the answer is NO, then it is obvious that great brands are built by a creative team of brand strategists, designers and marketers. It takes a “village” to build a brand, a collaborative effort which needs the flexibility and resources to create a great brand out of a business, yet the entrepreneur needs to be aligned and in agreement with the brand strategy or positioning that allows the brand team to steer the brand with the business in the same direction. The entrepreneur can bring in PR, visibility but is limited and busy with building the business. Hence, the business needs a strong brand vision and team that works towards connecting the dots across business functions to trickle the brand.
So, what is a brand?
The brand is the gut feeling of a customer about a product or service to be willing to pay X amount for it. Why gut feeling? A gut feeling because people are intuitive, emotional beings.
Because brand is created be people/ individuals. Not by companies, market or public.
In other words, it is not what YOU say it is but what THEY say it is.
Let me explain this with another angle, difference between brand, marketing, advertising in its traditional form of communication:
Scenario 1: Marketing – Check me out, I’m good
When the company spends money to talk about itself. Marketing can be viral, sponsored, and explores multiple channels to make its presence felt which can be subtle or obvious. But this is still paid by the company, unlike brand building. Marketing is also the primary channel to track Return on Investment (RoI) of sales and revenue growth.
Scenario 2: Advertising – Hey everyone, I’m “A” and I’m really good!
When the company advertises its product or service aggressively through mass media channels. This may or may not directly affect the sales or revenue but the larger public gets to know about the company, its product and brand. This is the quickest way of building brand presence, although capital intensive.
Scenario 3: Brand – Check out A, it’s really good
Brand building is successful when others talk about your company, rather than you spending money for people to talk/ market your product/ service. Word of mouth would be the conventional term. This is not just relevant in terms of sales or revenue but also building short and long term brand value.
Why branding startups or businesses ?
- Customers have too many choices and too little time.
- Most of the products have similar feature or quality.
- Customers tend to base their buying decision on “trust”.
Trust = Reliability + Delight
Trust comes by meeting and beating customer’s expectations, every time
Or at least, most of the time.
A great article about why trust is very important for brands and business growth has been articulated here and we have mentioned in our why section too. They touch up interesting points which are relevant to the Indian ecosystem too. A brand consulting firm with such services bring an interesting firm like Brand Trust. On how to build trust with your customers, check out this article.
Founders, entrepreneurs or businesses that are not aware of branding startups, brand building or don’t understand the strategic view of brand then we start from here.
Hope this helped to understand what is a brand, to begin the brand building journey for your business.