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Crash Course on Branding

Submitted by on Tuesday, 28 October 2008One Comment

So…. what is a brand?  And why does it matter?  This blog will cover LOTS of branding stuff, so lets get started with the basics.

Before we even get into “what” a brand is, let me prove to you (as there are some doubters) why branding is important.  Lets talk coffee…. when you think of Dunkin’ Donuts – what do you think of?  What feelings, thoughts or ideas pop into your mind.  Now think of Starbucks.  Essentially, both are selling you caffeine, but with very different approaches.  Now, think about the in-store experience of each.  How does that align with your feelings and ideas about the brand?  Starbucks and Dunkin have very different branding.

Not a coffee lover?  Look at Heavy.com, Youtube.com and Vimeo.com.  All three sites are essentially video sharing sites, yet each has a unique brand and brand equity that it is trying to portray.

According to Wikipedia

A brand is a collection of images and ideas representing an economic producer; more specifically, it refers to the descriptive verbal attributes and concrete symbols such as a name, logo, slogan, and design scheme that convey the essence of a company, product or service. Brand recognition and other reactions are created by the accumulation of experiences with the specific product or service, both directly relating to its use, and through the influence of advertising, design, and media commentary. A brand is a symbolic embodiment of all the information connected to a company, product or service.

Hmmm – long explanation, so really, what is it?  A Brand is what a company stands for.  It’s “what you are all about”.  I would disagree slightly with the wikipedia description in that the “verbal attributes and concrete symbols” and not really the Brand, but how you bring the brand to life.

Another key concept related to branding is brand equity.  Again, according to Wikipedia:

Brand equity refers to the marketing effects or outcomes that accrue to a product with its brand name compared with those that would accrue if the same product did not have the brand name.

Brand equity is essentially what you stand for in both the minds and emotions of consumers.  What does this mean….. Say Starbucks – in your mind it might stand for the best coffee, most choices, or some other tangible benefit.  Emotionally it may stand for a break from the day, time away from the office/family, an escape.

Think about a brand that you “love”.  What do you associate with the brand on both a functional or benefit perspective, and what are the more emotional feelings that you associate with it?

Starbucks (despite recent stumbles) has been considered a strong brand and here is why.  Everything about a Starbucks is consistent with their equity.  The price of the coffee (seriously, who thought that people would pay $5 for a coffee????), the look of the interior, the “Baristas”, the fancy pastries, the music…. everything that you experience when interacting with a Starbucks is consistent and related to their desired brand equity.

So…. this is The Marketess Crash Course on branding.  Look for more articles covering how to build and maintain a strong brand.

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