Coca-Cola, Nike, GE, Disney, Ford, IBM, and Microsoft. All powerful, vibrant properties that command a premium price – primarily because these brands are recognized and aggressively managed as potent business tools. Their corporate leadership understands that a powerful corporate brand can weather crisis more easily, slow market share erosion and rally employees. Powerful brands influence customer preference, strengthen the bottom line, and can even boost market valuation. Yet for many companies, the brand remains an uncultivated business asset.
Branding, very much a buzzword today, is often confused with “corporate identity” or “corporate image.” They actually have very different meanings.
For positive branding to occur, a company must consider every way it touches prospective and current customers – including: advertising, public relations, and customer service. All elements of a company’s marketing must mesh seamlessly for a new or reinvigorated brand to break through the clutter.
Originally, “brand” was defined as a mark burned on the skin with a hot iron. In the marketing industry, the term has evolved to mean the enduring emotional association one has with a particular company or product. With the glut of products and services out there, many of which have no discernible difference the only way a company or product can stand out is by creating a unique emotional connection with the customer.
Creating a brand identity doesn’t happen by chance. It requires a process, or “road map.” A clean plan to lead you through the branding process, with built-in checkpoints to keep everyone focused. Without a plan, you run the risk of straying, which translates into compromised, unfocused brand identity.