MANY people believe that the word "brand" relates simply to
the visual identity of a particular company, product or organisation – in other
words the organisation’s name, logo and general look and feel.
In truth, a brand is all of these things and a whole lot
more. Essentially, your brand represents all of the valuable and desirable
qualities of your product or service to the consumer, while the term corporate
identity relates to all the physical elements of the brand – such as the logo,
signage, website look and feel etc.
The two are very closely linked, and both
need to be in place and managed if you are to get the most out of your marketing
and brand development efforts.
Think of a famous brand like Red Bull. Sure, we can all
recognise the logo and visual aspects of the brand, but more importantly Red
Bull have been very successful in creating an identity for their brand that
transcends the product and its visual elements alone.
By aligning themselves
with extreme sports such as cliff diving, motor racing, base jumping and
surfing, Red Bull have managed to create a perception in the marketplace that
they are the energy drink of choice for extreme athletes everywhere – and
naturally this has filtered down into their general target market, who may not
be extreme athletes themselves but either aspire to be, or at the very least
find this lifestyle appealing.
This relates in more awareness, customer loyalty
and ultimately, in more sales.
Another example of clever brand management is Nando’s. They
have used humour in their advertising and brand positioning since day one,
instead of focussing merely on their various product offerings, which is what
most of their competitors do.
The result has seen them associated with fun and
cemented as a household name, making them one of the most visible food brands
in SA and, increasingly, internationally as well.
What these examples demonstrate is the value of a strong
brand identity. A brand identity, or brand image is all the attributes one
associates with a brand, how the brand owner wants the consumer to perceive the
brand - and by extension the branded company, organisation, product or service.
A brand’s identity is created by a combination of clever
management of the brand name, the logo, the corporate ID and all supporting
material and activities, including website, public relations, press and media,
marketing materials, competitions and sponsorships, staff, brand spokespeople
and so on.
It does not happen overnight, and some brands have failed dismally
in their efforts to create the desired perception - think of the millions that
BP spent trying to position themselves as the "green" oil company, and how that
was wiped out by one highly publicised oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Positioning the brand
From my own perspective, brand identity has a special
significance. When my two partners and I started Streetwires, we realised very early on that careful positioning of
the brand was absolutely crucial to our success.
We had hundreds of
competitors in the wire and bead game, most of whom could offer similar
products at a cheaper price, so our strategy was to focus on what we could
offer customers that many of them could not – such as capacity, reliability,
in-house design capabilities, association with a successful job creation
In other words, we had to create an identity for our company that
transcended the products alone and highlighted all the benefits of doing
business with us. This we did by careful management of our PR and media,
customer service, corporate identity and all other elements associated with the
So the question you need to ask yourself is how do people
perceive your brand, and is it the way you want them to see it, or do you
need to give more thought to your brand identity and how it is managed?
course, this statement makes the assumption that you actually have a brand and
corporate identity in place – because in the absence of this, yours is really a
hobby and not a business.
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