Branding, Democratized.

When you hear the word “brand”, what comes to your mind?  Many people automatically think of brand name like “Nike”, “Apple”, “Macy’s”, “BMW”, … we often mistake a “brand name” with “brand,” which is the end result of “branding.”

Today, thanks to the internet, brand-marketing is increasingly substituting traditional marketing.  Due to the leveled playing field online, brand and branding as a powerful tool of getting messages out and retaining clients is democratized and available to all players, including small and mid-sized companies.  Brand is no longer solely reserved for brand-name companies.  

Think of the word “phone”. It no longer has the same definition as 20 years ago, with all the additional features that make it more than a phone, such as GPS, word processing, video, photo, Apps, IoT, etc.  The same is true for the word “Brand” – as a concept, it too is evolving, if not being revolutionized.

The modern definition of branding’s is less than 100-year old. The word literally and physically evolved from burning a cow’s hide with a hot iron to mark ownership, to trademarking a class of goods.

Here is a more recent definition of “branding”: “The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumer’s mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.” (http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/branding.html. Underline added.)

I define the concept of “brand” like this:

A brand is the heart, soul, mind and body of a business.  It starts with the DNA blueprint of a brand’s core values and belief:  What does my brand stand for? A successful brand can have many offsprings, even grand children, but its DNA remain unmodified. A brand can evolve and expand, but its DNA does not change.

For example, “Apple Computer” evolved into just “Apple”, with I-pod, Apple Watch…The Apple brand always stands for, among other things,  (1) We believe that we are the challenger of status quo, we are in a class of our own, we don’t play by other’s rule such as Microsoft’s; (2) We prioritize design over engineering, we value the ease of user experience. We believe we are the best.  No matter how the Apple brand evolves and expands,  its heart, soul, and DNA remain the same, and they dictate how the exterior “body” will look and feel, to coherently and consistently speak for the internal essence.

Brand-power does not exclusively belong to a power-brand like Apple. ALL businesses can hone their own unique, authentic and powerful brands.  It takes vision, belief, and expertise from those who master the multi-disciplinary process of branding, which is both a science and art.

(to be continued.)  © Joanne Tan, CEO of 10+ Visual Branding, 7/17/2017.  All Rights Reserved.