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What is Branding

What is Branding

Table of Contents

Introduction

So what is branding? I have started so many businesses in my life. I have also been so many things: I have been a deejay, I have operated a cyber cafe, I was a graphic designer, a farmer, a software engineer, a mental health advocate, a political blogger, a professional photographer, sold T-shirts, a web developer, a digital marketer, a computer technician, a pianist, a teacher, a writer, sold photo frames & mounts among many other things. In all these, I tried to ‘brand’ myself but I failed miserably. This is because I never knew what branding was. I thought that branding was having your business on social media or just having a good logo or website and damn! I did tons of them!

Businesses I Have Started & Failed Siloma Stephen

I have been a failure for the longest and lucky for you, you do not really need to fail. Learn from my mistakes. This is why I have personally written this FREE E-book for you who desires to build something meaningful and impactful.

5 Money Murdering Mistakes No Web or Graphic Designer Will Dare Tell You E Book Cover

So let’s dive right into the article and let’s learn what branding is all about.

What is A Brand?

Most people think that a brand is all about having that fancy logo or website. Branding is more than that. Some think that it is about being active and vibrant on social media. I constantly ask the question, “If the social media you use to market your brand goes down or you are hacked, will your business still survive?”

Investopedia describes a brand is simply the identity of a company. It is the intangible value that makes one company/person stand out from another company/person selling the same products or services. Products are made in companies but brands are made in the hearts and minds of people.

What is Branding?

Branding is the process of influencing people’s perspective over a company, or an individual by creating an identity or a story behind the entity. This process involves crafting the company or individual’s core purpose, personality, message and visual identity like a logo, website etc.

Marty Neumeier states in his book, The Brand Gap, that a brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company. In branding, we try as much to influence our target audience’s gut feeling about us.

“A Brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product or service or company. Its a gut feeling because we are all emotional, intuitive beings despite our efforts to be rational.” ~ Marty Neumeier.

Branding vs. Marketing

Branding is often confused with marketing. This is because they are somewhat connected and overlap in most cases. Branding is the identity of a company/individual while marketing are the tactics and strategies that communicate the identity to the outside world. Let’s say for example you want to start a hotel business, of course you will start by knowing why (purpose) you are starting it, where (vision) you see your hotel in a few years and how (mission) you are going to achieve your purpose and vision.

You will then get to know who you are selling to (audience), who your competitors are, how you will be different. You will then go into the intricacies of what you want to be known for and how you want your employees to behave. You will then have your logo to uniquely identify you and a website to automate your business processes. This is what branding is all about.

Marketing on the other hand will involve communicating the brand to the target audience so that guests can come experience your hotel (brand) and in turn helping you make profit.

Branding Vs Marketing Hubspot
Branding Vs Marketing Source: Hubspot

What Are The Different Types of Branding?

There are different types of brands. The way you will brand a person will not be the same way you will brand a product or a company. The following are some of the common types of branding.

1. Corporate Branding

Corporate branding involves creating and managing the overall image or identity of a brand. This involves shaping the perception of the entire company among stakeholders, clients, employees, investors and the public.

2. Personal Branding

Personal branding involves shaping the identity and reputation of an individual. Thanks to social media, this process has not only become easy, but has also made personal brands relatable and accessible. People can now personally relate with Founders of huge companies, get to interact with their personal lives and get priceless tips from them, as a result of personal branding.

If you want to elevate your career, then you should consider building your personal brand. In whatever profession you are in, a personal brand identity helps you stand out and shows your target audience who you are and what you care about. In this era of social media, anyone can build a personal brand and showcase prowess in their field.

3. Product Branding

Product branding is the strategic process of defining and promoting the unique identity of a product majorly to make it different from the competition. It involves communicating the product’s benefits and its value proposition to deliver a positive brand experience to the clients. Ths is vital espescially in digital marketing.

Digital marketing and product branding go hand in hand. They are both used to create a positive image of a brand so as to attract customers to your site.

What Are The Elements of Branding?

1. Brand Heart

The brand heart or the brand essence is the core of your brand. It is an intangible feeling that defines what your brand stands for serving as a foundation for its consistency and authenticity.

It entails purpose, vision, mission and core values.

The term “brand heart” refers to the core essence or identity of a brand. It encapsulates the values, beliefs, purpose, and personality that define a brand and resonate with its target audience.

The core is the part of your brand that embodies its purpose, values, and unique identity, serving as a foundation for its consistency and authenticity.

It represents the heart and soul of a brand. It’s an intangible marketing strategy that makes up the DNA of a brand identity. It’s a feeling that defines what your brand stands for, invoking a particular emotion, feeling, or thought. All of these intangible feelings are succinctly defined like a tagline.

2. Brand Positioning

Let’s assume, that you are in the supermarket buying a few household items. At the top of your mind, you already know the spesific brands you will buy, right? Reason is, the brand(s) you prefer have positioned themselves in a certain way to their target audience by showcasing value in their brand marketing through various marketing strategies that made the brand stand out to you.

So, basically, brand positioning refers to the unique selling points and the value or promises that a brand presents to attract customers. It is a creative marketing strategy that brands come up with to enable them establish their brand identity while conveying their brand message to the audience.

Brand positioning solely depends on brand memorability. When customers can relate to your ads, or even remember your catchy tagline, or even just by a glimpse of your brand color pallete, clients can differentiate your brand from the rest, then that is brand positioning. For instance, when i mention ‘Just do it’ you will know that i am refering to Nike shoes.

Brand positioning does not happen overnight. It takes brand marketing on many platforms as possible, having creative strategies that captures the audience attention, memorable taglines, having unique selling points, appealing graphic design, digital marketing, and so much more. 

3. Brand Character

Often times, when customers choose brands, they rely on their affinity with the brand and how it makes them feel rather than focusing on the service or the product itself.

So what is brand character? you might ask. Well, Brand character, also known as brand identity is a set of characteristics and attributes that define a brand. It is a set of unique selling points or propositions (USP) that shapes the brand identity. Unique selling points is the soul of what makes your brand have character and an identity that makes you stand out amidst competitors. 

In digital marketing, communicating your unique selling points clearly is vital especially in gaining traction to your site. Basically, brand character/ brand identity answers the question(s): What is my brand best known for? Is it competence? Does it evoke feelings; feelings of excitement, wholesomeness? Does my brand show loyalty and sincerity? Does my brand show elegance and sophistication? Does my brand solve the needs of my target audience? and so forth.

4. Verbal Expression

In branding, words matter. Verbal expression or verbal branding is the weapon that builds your brand voice. It helps everyone tell the same story about your services, how you do it and why your personal brand matters.  It encompasses:  images, illustrations, taglines, copywriting and the language used to potray your brand.

Verbal branding is the most important aspect in marketing strategy. You might have the best logo but using poor wording as your brand message will wash away the essence of your brand. Part of your brand identity is to use language that resonates the with your target audience through how you communicate your ideas, how you use language to evoke emotions and the promises that create value and differentiation.

5. Visual Expression.

Visual expression refers to the visible representation of your brand. It is made up of many factors such as logo, graphic design, color pallate, brand message, animations used and imagery, typography, use of white space, balance and readability. These factors must be uniform across all social media platforms, website, packaging, billboards, flyers, digital and print ads even in email marketing to enable customers relate with your brand. 

Not only does these aspects play a key role in enhancing your brand design, it also brings about brand memorability in the minds of the audience.  

What Are The Benefits of Branding?

1. Customer Recognition & Loyalty

Effective branding helps your brand become more visible and helps you gain traction on your site. Through consistent visual elements, brand message, brand marketing, and overall brand identity customers become familiar with your brand and can easily recognize it among competitors.

Recognition is essential for attracting and retaining customers and this is done by ensuring consistency across all customer touchpoints, whether is your website, social media, packaging, or in-person interactions. Consistency builds trust and it reinforces your brand message and brand voice hence strengthening the bond between your brand and customers.

2. Reaching A Wider Target Audience

In a nutshell, branding enables companies to reach a wider target audience by increasing visibilility through consistent brand marketing, establishing credibility and trust and credibility by delivering top notch content. Having a unified brand voice on all customer touchpoints is vital to deliver targeted messaging, having brand associations, constantly improving your brand design, differentiating from competitiors and facilitating product promos.

By inversting in branding activities that align with business goals and audience needs, companies and even a personal brand can expand their reach and drive growth in both existing and new markets

3. Builds a Culture

In a corporate setting, strategic brand partnerships and affiliations can help companies reach new audiences by capitalizing on the existing customer base of partner brands. Mostly, this is done through email marketing.

By associating either through paid partnerships or collaborations with well known brands or aligning companies with complementary products or services, can build a culture of fostering community relations especially in marketing campaigns. This enables companies expand their reach and tap into new markets. 

4. Increased Sales

Branding builds equity over time as customers associate positive experiences and perceptions with your brand. Brand equity translates into a higher perceived value  for your brand, enabling you to command premium prices for your products or services.

Furthermore, a growing brand can leverage its reputation and brand equity to introduce new products or expand into new markets and demographics. Customers who are loyal to the brand are likely to try its new offers, providing additional revenue streams and opportunities for sales growth.

Strong branding forters customer loyalty by creating emotional connections and positive associations with the brand. When customers have a favourable perception of a brand and trusts it products or services, they will most likely become repeat buyers and tell others as well (word of mouth refferal) about your brand, leading to increased sales over time.

Examples of Successful Branding

1. KCB Bank

In 2020, when The Covid-19 Pandemic sent shockwaves through the  global economy, KCB swiftly adapted its branding strategy to meet the evolving needs of its customers by enhancing various customer-centric approaches, that aimed at providing relief to affected businesses and individuals. 

Through targeted social media campaigns and community outreach programs, KCB reinforced its commitment by building brand equity. The bank’s empathetic branding resonated deeply with customers, fostering a sense of loyalty and trust in their services. 

The launch of KCB M-Pesa app as a personal brand under KCB marked  a significant milestone in the bank’s branding journey showcasing its ability to adjust its brand design to adapt  to changing customer preferances and technological advancement. 

After the succesful app launch, KCB Bank embarked on a nationwide brand marketing campaign, through traditional and digital channels to promote the apps benefits and feautures. Through captivating storytelling and strategic messaging tactics this enhanced their brand voice and possitioned KCB M-pesa as the preferred choice for convinient, secure and reliable banking services. 

KCB Bank Branding. Source The Business Wiz
KCB Bank Branding. Source: The Business Wiz

2. Home Apparel

Home Apparel 254 personal brand is a vibrant clothing brand that has established itself as a leading player in the Kenya’s Fashion scene. With its roots deeply embbeded in Kenyan culture and lifestyle, the brand capture the essence of contemporary fashion.

One of the key reasons behind the Home Apparel 254’s success is its commitment to quality. Their brand marketing strategy majorly focuses on highlighting the brand’s rigorous standards  and dedication to excellence of each outfit has earned Home Apparel 254’a reputation for reliability and durability among its customers.

Moreover, the brand has a keen understanding of its target audience. By staying attuned to evolving fashion trends and consumer preferences, the brand continuously innovates design to stay ahead of its competitors. Whether is casual wear for everyday outings or elegant attire for special occasions, Home Apparel 254 offers a diverse tastes for its clientele.

The brand is actively involved in digital marketing by consistent engagement in social media and also through strategic marketing campaigns, the brand has fostered a sense of community among its followers hence cultivating loyalty and advocacy.

In essence, the brand’s success can be attributed to its unwavering focus on elegance and good quality, strong brand identity and customer-centered approach on their website and social media platforms. 

Home Apparel

3. Safaricom.

The brand has positioned itself as Kenya’s leading telecommunications company. Over the years, Safaricom has undergone significant transformations in their brand marketing strategies to become the better brand.

Here are some of the ways Safaricom achieved brand success.

  • Innovative products and services: Safaricom has continuously introduced innovative products and services tailored to meet the ever evolving customer needs. For example, M-PESA, Safaricom’s mobile money app, revolutionized financial transactions in Kenya and beyond, providing a convinient and a secure way for people to send and receive money, pay bills and other financial services.
  • Brand communication and marketing: Safaricom has effectively communicated its brand vision, mission, and through strategic marketing campaigns and brand innitiatives. The company’s marketing efforts  focus on storytelling, connecting emmotionally with consumers, and reinforcing its position as a trusted brand in the telecommunications industry.
  • Through partnerships, sponsorships and collaborations; The brand has signed meaningful strategic partnerships and collaborations with other organizations both locally and internationally. These partnerships enable safaricom to leverage their expertise, resources and build networks to deliver more value to its customers and stakeholders.
  • Finally, Safaricom upholds ethical business practices. It upholds high standards of governance, integrity, ethical and professional practices. Part of their brand voice is to remind its customers that the company is commited to transparency, accountability and compliance with regulatory requirements, hence positioning itself as a credible brand.
A pedestrian walks on a sideway outside the Safaricom mobile phone customer care centre in the central business district of Nairobi, Kenya, November 10, 2021. REUTERSMonicah MwangiFile Photo
A pedestrian walks on a sideway outside the Safaricom mobile phone customer care centre in the central business district of Nairobi, Kenya, November 10, 2021. REUTERS | Monicah Mwangi | File Photo

Conclusion.

In conclusion, branding goes beyond just having an appealing logo. 

Branding is about creating meaningful connections, fostering trust and leaving a lsting impression. It is the art of storytelling, the science of differentiating your brand from other similar brands, and the strategic merge of emotions, perceptions and experiences. Ultimately, branding is the soul of your business, guiding its trajectory, shaping the brands legacy and ofcourse, defining its place in the hearts and minds of people.

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