If the explanation of branding was simple, there would not be so much ambiguity and dissonance regarding the concept. Still, for the most part, a strong understanding of branding requires a decent grasp of business, marketing, and even (human) relational basics. Branding is such a vast concept that a correct definition that truly encompasses everything that it represents would not bring too much clarity to the subject just by itself. But, for the sake of lowering the propagation of obsolete, incorrect, and incomplete information about branding, we offer a more complete definition
a company’s physical, verbal and symbolic presentation of its corporate values, intentions and products (Cattell, 2005) Without further ado, here’s what all of that signifies: a design-led conception of the ideal consumer (Cattell, 2005) a comprehensive business strategy that addresses the unique attributes and goals of the market it serves (Kuhnbrodt, Loeffler, & Lyons, 2007) a strongly held vision that minimizes commoditization (e.g., the company’s desire to produce goods and services that are low in cost) (Taylor, Marriott & Santos, 2008) a set of understandable, authentic, and compatible brand attributes that are universally appealing (Cattell, 2005) let’s dive in! Let’s take a brief detour and talk about concerns and objections that we, as consumers, might raise in relation to a company’s potential brand image. Aside: Given that we’re in the era of wellness culture (a world with its head so far up its own ass that it’s about time I would get in on the fun), I wouldn’t be surprised if “anti-aging beauty” or whatever wacky bullshit she’s selling with that damn bottle is considered scarily close to blasphemy! (Don’t google it; I’m too old for my own good!) There’s something inherently alarming and off-putting about a company’s goal to sell you things that will positively affect your physical appearance. Certainly, people with legitimate, well justified concerns about the firm’s ability and/or intent to responsibly produce its products and/or adhere to safe working procedures and protocols regarding ingredients used in its products should speak up. But, I’m just as uncomfortable voicing concerns about the firm in terms that are meant to derail the brand and influence people traveling outside of the brand’s target demographic… After all, what’s more important than keeping our mouths shut and purchasing more of their worthless crap? (I’m of the mind that the general public is catching on to the fact that many of these toxic products are made by women who have little understanding or experience with the products they are peddling.) Let’s follow the money: After establishing a firm’s target audience and differentiating itself from the competition, the process begins. Someone needs to be in charge of creating the firm’s identity and establishing the visual vocabulary (image) associated with it (Cattell, 2005). Such an individual/entity is typically referred to as a brand’s “face” (neither Mary Kay Ash, nor L’Oreal they’re not enough for you?) and allows the company to distinguish itself among the rest of the plethora of faceless, faceless capitalist entities built over the centuries. Look around you and try to identify a small bar, coffee shop, supermarket, department store, restaurant, etc.
Business Model: A business model defines the ability to generate profit and how that profit is distributed among the owners and the various stakeholders involved with the company. A business model, therefore, is a grounded structure that defines the investment opportunities available to the owner/operators of a specific business into the entirety of their business's advantages, not just some of them. The Structure: The marketing efforts that surround a specific business’s business model are those that affect the business’s ability to generate profit and its overall success. Within a company management structure, brand initiatives are therefore: Programming: Marketing efforts that promote the company, its products or services, its brand and its reputation, and the overall visibility of the brand in the marketplace. Managing: Marketing efforts that benchmark the efficacy, efficiency and quality of the company, its products or services, its brand and the reputation of the brand. Reporting: Marketing efforts that collect, compile, process, analyze and display information about the business, its products or services, its brand and the reputation of the brand. Ownership: The visibility and influence that a business attains as a result of its efforts toward marketing its brand. Examples: McDonald’s has committed to the example of Mr. Argento, a former professional ice hockey player. The company has made it its business to give back to the community. The team has become known in the local community as “Argentine Destroyer”. McDonald’s has adopted all the team’s marketing and branding practices. According to a recent Forbes article, McDonald’s recorded a 23.1 percent increase in new daily foot traffic from home. Burger King is famous for its #WhoDidRollOut campaign, in which celebrities are featured in commercial spots and social media posts promoting a date night for kids. United Fruit’s image uses hip-hop lyrics and a cartoon mascot to create kind reminders of American values while inviting people to share their own culture and beliefs. In the Blackberry corporate branding, the company presents itself as: Thriving Black-owned company providing technical and strategic leadership to advance the Black-owned technology and software field and to help Black-owned-companies achieve profitable growth third from last in the world by revenue. In addition, Blackberry owns the entire pervasive realm of social networking, where the company creates and promotes communities that protect and promote Black culture and self-identity.
Banding is the unmatched ability of a consumer/customer to relate to a brand in a way that both fundamentally and emotionally makes them part of that brand. The brand is that strong emotional connection that draws customers into buying decisions instead of customers choosing brands. Banding is the emotion that connects brand and customer. It defines a brand’s purpose, ethos, values, personality, and distinctive expression. Complementary to the intangible, the brand is made up of thoughts, ideas, emotions, impulses, practices, and stars. It is a classic symbiotic relationship between the brand and its consumers, or more specifically, it is a relationship that satisfies the consumer longing for belonging and belongingness. The branding process begins when a brand is first established by a creative professional. In other words, the creation of a brand starts with a unique vision, a brilliant way of describing what the brand stands for, and a compelling value statement that makes a customer believe in its substantial and positive impact on their lives. Sooner or later, that belief in the company starts propagating to every member of the audience. Individuals belonging to the target audience begin to form associations with the company that serve as a sort of charitable organization for the whole population. The brand fans them even further by selling them products that their everyday lives require, like shoes, clothes, unique home decor or even food. But the thing is — it doesn’t stop there. Now, every other brand in history has had eminent crises where even its loyal fan base started criticizing the brand. Even though these bearers of mentality are indeed part of the brand and the brand’s publishing, gathering, and reproduction are intertwined, their opinions are not a form of translation of the brand into life itself. On the contrary, since the emotional aspects of branding are identified during the conceptual stage, opinions expressed through the lens of being a part of the brand or its collective identity are quite different than those shared by users who may feel neither a direct social relationship with the brand nor the remarkable experience of being part of it. In reality, they have mixed feelings but no deeper emotional bond to the brand because, according to Brand Theory, brands do not create their own emotional world. Instead, they rely on feelings shared among those who created the brand’s synthesis, and — naturally — between those persons. They form a brand community, the affinity that makes it possible to sell one, unique product after another.