Discussion Questions For Wal-Mart The High Cost Of Low Price The Importance of Branding and Identity

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The Importance of Branding and Identity

When you hear the word “branding” it brings to mind a rancher putting his brand on the skin of his cow. Well, product branding is less painful, but it follows the same principle. You want your brand image to be “burned” into the consumer’s mind.

Some examples of recognizable brands include the red, white and blue “smiling” logo of Pepsi, the infamous Nike “swish”, the elegant L-oval of Lexus and the golden arches at McDonalds. These icons represent the constructed and embellished images in our minds.

So what is the difference between a logo and a brand? Some may call the above examples logos while others may call them corporate brands. So what’s the difference? Logos are images or symbols that represent a person, place or thing and are used as an identification of a product or service in most cases. It can be equated to an individual’s “signature”.

Brands, on the other hand, can be like the “character” of an individual – it is who you are, what you are and what you value. A company’s brand is nothing different, it is literally the company’s personality, it reflects the personality of the owner, board of directors, shareholders or even the corporate culture.

Branding takes time, it’s not something that can be achieved overnight. Not even the advertising Gods could make that happen. And it takes repeated exposure to gain success. Logos, the visual symbol of the brand, bring immediate awareness of what the product or service offers and what the company’s reputation is.

A definition of what branding can be in the context of marketing can sound like: “Branding is a long and continuous attempt to express an idea, concept or emotion in a person’s mind.” Or put another way “The brand identity should help build a relationship between the brand and the customer by creating a value, a function, an emotion or a form of self-expression.”

There have been many studies conducted in the last two decades to examine brand awareness and brand exposure.

Depending on which study you refer to, the average person is exposed to consumer brands and commercial messages anywhere from 300 to 5000 times per day, depending on individual habits. Just think about your drive to work this morning, how many billboards did you pass? What about commercial vehicles with signs? What about the businesses you pass and their signage?

Branding is important because the stronger the brand the easier the communication. It’s like a snowball rolling down a hill…it gets bigger as it rolls faster.

It is the constant repetition of an idea, product or service, which eventually leads the customer to recognize your brand by association. Kleenex is after all a brand, but we use it as a generic term! Google is another example; You don’t search for things on the web, you “Google” them.

So how does this relate to your company’s brand? Well, as you can see, it’s more than just a nice looking logo; it gets your brand out there and communicates effectively and consistently. The main goal of a strategic marketing plan for your brand is to create name recognition and positive opinions about your product or service so that your target audience will think of your company when they need your services. It’s all about how your brand is perceived. If your product or service is perceived negatively, your brand risks losing ground to your customers and future customers. On the other hand, if your brand is perceived positively … business success is likely to follow. Your brand must convey a sense of value and provide an emotional experience to the audience you want to reach.

Let’s look at some examples of perspective. Wal-Mart is considered a low-cost leader and value retail store while Macy’s “star” projects a higher image and higher-priced, quality merchandise. The Lexus LS sedan is considered a luxury car while the Ford Taurus is considered lower in cost and quality. Each of these examples appeals to the desires of the target demographic.

These examples illustrate how brands can target selected groups of people and effectively communicate their messages. Each is perceived differently and each conveys a different emotion.

So how to create a strong brand that becomes a household name? One word… consistency. Many companies use tricks, games and gimmicks. And that’s good. Engaging and entertaining your customers is fine, however, if it serves the purpose of increasing brand awareness and ultimately sales.

In closing, think about your company’s brand and answer a few questions… how do you believe your brand is perceived by your customers? Does your target audience recognize it? If not, what changes do you need to make to make sure it does?

Whether it’s from scratch or your brand is already established, branding your product or service is important. It requires persistence, consistency and a lot of patience.

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