branding

What strikes you first when you think of the word ‘Branding’? Is it the logo OR brand’s look and feel OR the product packaging OR is it your perception about the brand? Every entrepreneur is amused by the concept of ‘Branding’. However, many of us have struggled to get the right extract of it. The crux lies in understanding the concept as a whole and integrating it into your strategies.

What’s in there?

The concept of the brand is exhaustive! No, not really.

Often people tend to get confused and mix it with various terms such as marketing, promotions, positioning etc. Let us put it this way, marketing starts from market research, identifying the need, ideating the product, product development etc. Once the product is ready the real task begins, the task of connecting the product with customers. Don’t get confused here with the market research term. Yes, the product came into existence post sighting its need in the market but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the product will ‘Sell’. A lot depends on the ‘Branding Process’ we are discussing in here.

Get. Set. GO.

So the product is ready but the challenge is what you call it? Remember, ‘Action without a name, a who attached to it is meaningless’. How you dress it up to make it look more appealing? Here comes the role of Branding in play. Let’s call this stage ‘INITIAL BRANDING’.

Under this stage, we’ll give our baby (product/service) a name and will make sure that it looks nothing less than ‘Perfect’. It should grab eyeballs & communicate the purpose of its existence with its audience.  At this stage only, we may rope in other interactive points such as marketing collaterals, website, and social media handles where the audience can connect with your baby and can collect relevant information. Remember, a good baby (product/service) will have good values & proper guidelines in forms of color, fonts, taglines, key messages etc. We call it ‘Brand Manual’.

LEVEL 2.0

Your ‘Baby’ is all set to storm the market. But wait a second, ‘Product doesn’t sell on its own’; remember? The second stage of branding consists of your promotional strategies. You need to be ultra-conscious here with your budget constraints, TG picking, Selection of Promotional Tools, Ideation & Execution & Post-execution analysis.  With all columns ticked, you pick your promotional tools such as PR, Advertisements, Digital Marketing (Social media marketing, SEO, Influencer & Content marketing), BTL or Trade Marketing.  The selection of right promotional tool has four major components:

– Right Media

– Right Message

– Right Audience

– Right Feedback

The aforesaid components will define your product and ‘POSITION’ it in the heart/brain of the audience or market.

An Idea alone can’t change your life as the power lies in the ‘execution’ of it. Be strong with ideation and super strong with its execution. Learning comes in the form of feedback and you need be smart enough to integrate it in your next steps.

What’s next?

There are enormous examples showing the importance of positioning into the market. It means how do people recall or remember your brand. Maggi as an instant food, Maruti Suzuki as a fuel-efficient car are few examples of it. How do you want the audience to remember your brand is called as ‘Positioning’. The better the positioning, the better the chances of your brand to survive in the ocean called market, may it be smooth water or high tides. Positioning Statement is an integral part of your Branding Strategy and thus you should pay proper attention to it. Pivoting happens and that is absolutely fine but do keep a close eye on the statement as well.

Good Times/Bad Times

Yes, that’s the truth of life. Your product/baby will go through this as well. But your planning in the form of Branding Strategies will ensure that it sustains the rough times. Establishing constant feedback channels should be in place to make sure you listen to your customers.  Your ‘Problem Solving’ product/service may not continuously excite customers. Thus, you need to contrive continuously to keep their interest alive. That does not necessarily mean upgrading your product or service but it could also be in the form of various ‘messages or communication’ you do with your audience.

Takeaways

Money that you put on the ‘Branding’ is another form of investment. An investment which will make sure that your brand competes well in the furiously competitive market and stands firm in tough times. Of course, affordability and aspirational value of products are other sales determining factors, but a robust branding strategy will ensure people take ‘interest’ in your brand.

Remember branding is not just about the Name or website design or promotional strategies or the message you want to convey. It’s a perfect blend of all above. It’s a holistic process through which every leading ‘Brand’ across the globe has gone through. And most importantly, ‘it’s not done overnight’!

Author:
Atul Pratap Singh
Co-Founder & Director
V Spark Communications (First fully integrated branding agency)

Branding Decoded: Understand the Concept
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