Brand and branding – what does each one mean?

Brand and branding – what does each one mean?

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Because we love Romglish (mixing Romanian and English) so much, especially in advertising, we also adopt these trendy English words in day to day conversations. Brand and branding or rebranding are a few such examples used by many and understood by few.

If you’re wondering what a brand is and you want the stripped-down version with no headaches attached to it, if you’re confused by terms such as visual identity or brand identity and you’re obviously too lazy to skim through a branding manual that’ll tell you exactly how everything’ve come to the right place.

If, however, you got here by mistake and you’re wondering – why in God’s name would I need to know anything about brand and branding, here’s who this extra knowledge could prove helpful to:

  • Advertising enthusiasts who want to look cool and learn some extra Romglish
  • People who already work in advertising or seeking to get employed in this field or other adjacent, creative industries (copywriting, online marketing, brand management etc.)
  • Everyone with a product or a service (entrepreneurs, companies, independent individuals, legal entities) looking to sell more, position themselves on the market and differentiate their offer from that of the competitors

Without further ado, let’s proceed...

Brand and branding – everything you need to know

Not any product is also a brand. For example, the nice lady on the 8th floor can knit socks and sell them in her spare time but if the nice lady on the 8th floor hasn’t registered her business as Fluffy Knitted Handmade Socks LLC. and doesn’t offer symbolic benefits to people, all she has is a product.

To clearly understand what a brand is, I’ll just go ahead and let Robin Landa say it better than I could: „a brand is the total sum of the functional and emotional benefits of a product, service or group that differentiates them from the competition.”

Walter Landor, another cool guy that I’m about to quote has an even clearer way of putting it: “Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.”

In short, a random product becomes a brand when it has a copyrighted name, a registered brand name and characteristics that differentiate it from the competition (visual identity, logo, slogan, values it upholds).

Moreover, it needs to offer functional or symbolic benefits to its consumers. What do I mean by that?

For example, associating with expensive, high-end brands such as Chanel gives any buyer status, wearing Chanel says something about a person. In other words, Chanel’s brand identity is so powerful it manages to transfer image capital to its end user. These are what we call symbolic benefits.

The functional benefits, on the other hand, refer to the level of quality offered by the Chanel brand, to the function of the products themselves (they make our lives easier, they help us carry our favorite accessories with us at all times, they help us maintain class and style).

But perhaps the most important characteristic of a brand is its ability to create unique associations in the mind of the consumer. Have I lost you a little there? I promise it’s a lot more simple to understand than it seems, just bear with me.

If I asked you what’s the first thing that pops into your head when I say Coca Cola, you’ll most definitely have an answer, whether it’s childhood, polar bears, a soda bottle or even the color red. These are brand associations.

Random products do not generate such specific associations/connections.

A random product is just a consumer good. A brand is a complete experience that we are offered as consumers.

Branding vs. rebranding

Branding is the process through which a product or a service becomes a brand, thus gaining a well-established and easily recognizable brand identity.

Branding is obtained through the large scale distribution of a product, through establishing certain quality standards (for example, corporations such as McDonalds or Coca Cola have clearly defined quality standards that apply irrespective of the geographical location) and investing in a unique visual identity.

Last but not least, when doing branding for a product you own, it’s important to also define the following:

  • Mission (what you’re looking to offer to your consumers since the launch – short and medium-term objectives)

E.g: you offer gold-plated sunflower seeds, you want to create a demand for this type of product and increase the level of notoriety of gold-plated sunflower seeds on the market.

  • Vision (your future plans/perspectives, what you aim for your brand to become)

E.g.: 25 years from now, you want to be recognized as the undisputed king of gold-plated sunflower seeds on the Romanian sunflower seeds market (screw you, Nutline, you know nothing)

Rebranding, on the other hand, is the action of changing the identity of an already created/established brand on the market, through different tactics (name change, a new visual identity etc.)

Rebranding’s purpose is re-positioning the brand on the market but it can also be a clever PR move through which a company evades negative brand associations from the past.

An example here would be Dunkin’ Donuts – they have recently changed their name to Dunkin’, as well as some elements pertaining to visual identity.

How can I use brand and branding knowledge for my business needs?

If you have a product or a service, you can differentiate yourself and build a true brand only if you understand that people are no longer looking for simple goods meant to be consumed, that they want experiences and benefits, reasons to choose you that go far beyond the product itself.

Most importantly, don’t neglect the emotional component of a brand – it’s not all about bright, flashy colors or the most expensive and „deep” logo’s, it’s about the things you offer and the competitors don’t.

Whether you sell a watch or a transport service, you need to understand how the consumer thinks and make sure that your brand lines up with that, that your brand is the answer to a pressing need that the client has.

All of the above will help you build a brand from scratch, not just a product or service.

Good luck!

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