Branding, one of the most important segments of businesses, that if done well, can mean success even during the worst of economic times, and that if a company fails to do, may struggle even in the best of market conditions. Branding is so important that 89% percent of the top brands and marketers say that Branding and brand awareness is their top goal. While 80% of the brands spend a lifetime building their Brand Image and Brand Identity. Why is it so and why are companies so much after Branding and most importantly, what is the major difference between the terms “Brand Image” and “Brand Identity”.
If we were to look closely into this topic, we’d first have to understand what a brand really is and why should a company even think about “Branding”. A Brand is essentially a product, service or an intangible concept that helps people and customers identify and distinguish a company, product, service or an individual publicly from the rest. Through Branding, a company builds three things for a customer, Connection, Trust, Confidence. These are also the three reasons why an individual customer would prefer to buy from one company over another.
To really understand a Brand and Branding, let’s take a real-world business example of a Hair Salon business. The Hair Saloon that is always successful is the one that provides excellent service, great customer experience and value to their customers. However, the business excels even further, if the owner and the staff build an emotional connection, trust and confidence with their customers. This is also the reason why people always go to the same Hair Salon, even if there are better options out there. The reason being people trust the brand image that the business has built over the course of several years and this is exactly what the top companies of the world are after.
According to recent data from Smallbizgenius.net, 73% of consumers love a brand because of helpful customer service, while Coca-Cola spends an average of $4 billion on branding each year. Branding in its core can become really complicated and this is the reason why many companies blindly fail even if they have a great product at hand.
This comes down to understanding the two types of “Branding”, one is called Brand Image and the second one is called Brand Identity.
Many companies have no clue as to what Brand Image and Brand Identity really is and this can be detrimental for the business if the company fails to understand what each really means. To really understand what Brand Image and Brand Identity really is, in the most simplest business terms, Brand Image is the result of the work done by the business owners on building their Brand Identity.
This means that Brand Image is completely an external factor that the business and company owners have no control over. The reason why customers choose one brand over another is only that the company has built itself a solid foundation for their brand identity that has helped them achieve Brand Image in the world.
Therefore, Brand Image is essentially the perspective of the customers and people of the company. These include all the emotional and physical connections towards the brand and their decisions of whether or not they would like to involve themselves with the brand in the form of loyalty or as a customer who purchases their product or service. From here we can see that, the brand image is completely dependent upon the customer’s perspective of the Brand and how they view the Brand and company as a whole. While Brand Identity is basically how the brand owner wants the company to be perceived by the customers and the general public. Brand Identity includes all the work done by the company upon their branding, logo, color choice, brand values, mission statements and the main goals of the brand and the how focused the company is in performing the activity on a regular basis and whether or not, if they are persistent in carrying on their activity. More specifically, all the physical elements of the brand. Brand Identity is essentially the reflection of the company towards the public.
The greatest example of a company that has done excellent work on Brand Identity and Brand Image is the company Apple who has now been able to achieve “Monopoly” like status in the smartphone and computers market. Apple’s brand has evolved and expanded to a wide range of products. Apple is one company that has been able to achieve a solid control over their Brand Identity. For a second, close your eyes and think about the company Apple, as to what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you imagine Apple.
It seems as though people don’t actually think about the Apple fruit but they think about the company Apple and the great products that they have created and the emotional connection that they have made with their customers. Here the actual fruit is outspoken and in the case with Orange, that doesn’t happen even though there is an actual $31 billion dollars valued company with a branded name on it.
This tells us how a company’s efforts on branding, brand identity can completely change the perception of the people and customers about the brand. This is how a company can sculpt their brand image and there is no doubt, this leads to better brand performance in terms of revenue, customer loyalty and much much more in the future.
This is because Today building a great smartphone is easy but building an ecosystem that customers love and are loyal to is almost close to impossible and this is the reason why Apple has been able to reach such great heights.
The Brand Image of Apple today is the result of several years of work done on building their Brand Identity for the company. That’s still today, people wait in lines in front of the first Apple Store to get their hands on the latest iPhones released by Apple.
A great example of Branding done by a Dhaba restaurant in India is Moti Mahal opened by Kundan Lal Gujral. The eatery became one of the most loved Dhabas in India with their coveted daal makhani, tandoori chicken, butter chicken and much much more. During that time in the 1940’s, there was no brand marketing courses, colleges, and he had no marketing mentors that taught him the tips and skills to help him take his Dhaba to great heights. It was firstly purely out of passion, love for food and his intimate loving hospitality that gave its customers an impeccable Dhaba experience that people loved so much. At that time, there was no brand logo, color or tagline but a lot of work was done unconsciously on building the Dhaba’s brand identity which Kundan Lal Gujral wasn’t even aware of. That which many of the modern days businesses and companies fail to do. They ignore the little things like making sure that the customers are attended, their questions are answered and most importantly making sure that they are treated not as customers but as guests.
How many times have you gone to a restaurant where the staff don’t take notice of you and don’t attend to you immediately?. You might wonder, well the restaurant is busy, but what if the staff immediately attends your presence and gives you a table or just smiles at you and tells you to wait because the restaurant is busy. Almost immediately, you’d have a great impression of the restaurant, even though you did not try the food of the restaurant.
There is a great article named “Branding – The Intangible Behind the Tangible” , where the story of Kundan Lal Gujral Dhaba is discussed in great detail.
With this we conclude by saying that it doesn’t take a billion dollar marketing budget to make a difference in branding, brand image and brand identity while even a small restaurant, coffee shop have the potential to reach great heights and provide 5 star level customer service that could be even better than 90% of the top brands out there.