Branding and Image?
Branding and image are a strange thing.
They’re often quite hard to put your finger on. The origins of course, lie in the branding as in “burning”. It’s funny how rarely we consider the words we use in everyday language. Marketing types often talk about “branding” with little or no thought to the application of a branding iron to a cow or other farm animal!
However, I digress…
Branding these days is more commonly associated with, “a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s goods or service as distinct from those of other sellers” (American Marketing Association). It’s all that “stuff” that combines to make what we associate with an organisation or business. Being “on brand” is important – buy why? As with much in marketing, we’re trying to stimulate emotions, emotions such as:
- Trust – a recognised and consistent brand, if executed well, will help to build trust in a product. Well executed, a brand identity should create the associations of quality, value, and efficiency your potential clients look for.
- Pride – Staff / employees / team members, whatever you choose to call them, should develop a sense of pride through a well-executed brand image. Something I’ve noticed in several construction firms, is the clear sense of pride people have in their firm’s brand. So much so, that they’re quite happy wearing the company clothing outside of work, and becoming public advocates for the brand.
- Loyalty – again, if done well, a consistent and recognised brand can create loyalty. And it’s a well-known fact that it’s infinitely easier to service customers who return than to try and find new ones.
McKinsey have identified that businesses with strong Business to Business (B2B) brands will out-perform others by at least 20%.
What is it?
In the context of professional services, brand image is built by a broad range of factors. From the logo of your website, to the content you create and the conduct and attitude of your team and business culture. All these factors combine to create a trusted brand.
The aim from a marketing perspective, therefore, is to ensure everyone and everything in the business aligns with the brand image. Also that the brand image is one that inspires the above emotions in potential clients and customers.
This is why, when we start working with a new client, we almost always insist on a detailed examination of their business and culture. This helps us to work out how we should help develop the firm’s brand and position your business most effectively. Most importantly it helps us get the “tone” right – something we’ll talk about another time…
- Mischon De Reya: A law firm to start with – these guys are almost always ‘on message’. Their modern, ‘business but it’s personal’ branding is consistent across everything they do. The staff we know from Mishcon are pretty proud of their business and their brand, and that’s reflected in the quality of their marketing output. The firm also have a brand management firm, so perhaps it’s no surprise their own brand is consistent. Clients who put their trust in Mishcon have included Princess Diana and Gina Miller.
- IBM: You couldn’t have an article like this without referring to IBM. The well-known saying “you never get fired for picking IBM” didn’t come from nowhere. The brand became so synonymous with making a decision that could not be wrong. IBM invested heavily in marketing and messaging to ensure their brand is seen as a safe pair of hands.
- Salesforce: This one pains me a little! However, you cannot deny the phenomenal success of this particular brand. The firm is just over 20 years old. In that short time, it has risen to dominate the world of marketing software across the globe. The brand has managed to appeal to exactly the people who make the decisions in businesses around the world, ensuring their business has risen to an annual revenue of $26bn.
- Microsoft or Apple (or Google?): It doesn’t really matter which of these you look at (from our perspective) – all three are market leaders, each has a loyal following and well known and well respected products. There is, arguably, a significant difference between them, but they all:
- Dominate their respective markets.
- Have strong B2C as well as B2B customer loyalty.
- Have strong brand design and image consistency.
- Invest heavily in marketing and brand image.
- Are seen by potential employees as attractive places to work.
- and much more!
One key point notable here, and something we remind folk, is that people making decisions are not different in business to those who are buying consumer products.
The tech products that are doing the best in business are doing the best in consumer too. The appeals to emotion do not change because someone is working. So when you think about how you sell your business, your service or your brand, consider the emotions you’re creating – or seeking to stimulate.