From electronics to footwear to tissues, we are surrounded by sophisticated branding which sets the stage for our buying habits. Manufacturers and retailers make certain company logos, taglines and images are memorable enough to direct what we purchase. Even store brands have been researched and targeted to the degree that we readily recognize them and better still, seriously consider them in any buying decision. So how do you use branding to the same advantage?
Branding a product or service is based on a number of factors — everything from the psychology of human interactions to how the brain perceives and reacts to color, shapes and movement. The basics of setting the stage, however, rely on a few primary ideas.
Relationship: Any branding effort must clearly relate to, and identify with, the product or service it represents. If the customer does not immediately link product with logo or tagline, they may move on to another product where meaning equates to the advertising image. An obscure branding effort may make sense to the company it represents, but not to the individual consumer. Consider this, if you went into a grocery store and all logos were gone from products, would you still be able to identify your chosen goods by color, package shape and store positioning? Retailers depend on us to consciously, or unconsciously, recognize and select those items we feel we know by instinct.
When you are planning the logos, taglines and other branding information for your business, put yourself in your customers’ roles as buyers. Will they understand and remember your logo? Is the branding effort carried out throughout all phases of your operation — on your business cards, product tags, shopping bags, advertising signs, the clothing your employees wear, on your website and as a part of your social media campaigns? As one researcher noted, memory equals many — the many times you see a logo and link it to a product or service, the more your memory is linked to associate that particular product with the company.
Action Oriented: Successful branding efforts encourage, okay, strongly encourage, customers to act. Either they are moved to research more closely what you have to offer and how your product equates to competitor’s goods, or to purchase on the spot. You go to the farmer’s market with the intent that you will attract customers and sell your product. Or, in your tasting room, you see sales as the absolute end-game. Along with the recognition factor, branding must motivate the customer to make a decision. We recognize the action messages — if we choose this food, we will feel better; if we wear these athletic shoes, we will move faster; if we drive this car, we will have more prestige. With action messages there is always a promise at the end. This does not mean that you can promise anything or any success. How you brand your product or service must relate to an actual benefit, and the customer must be able to link product with outcome. Your branding message must be memorable, and a call to action.
Honest: Transparency is the byword in almost every phase of business today. Customers want to know where their goods and services are coming from, how they are produced, by whom and from what materials. Advertising has become more than what consumers used to call “puffery.” Regulations control what claims can be made for any product or service. In the same way, branding that seems bloated or over-promises benefits, actually detracts from the product or service itself. Sellers should have confidence in their product, and match that belief with how they develop and utilize branding messages. This is where you can tell your own unique business story and help customers understand the background of what they are buying.
Branding is about setting the stage for successful sales. You develop the message and materials which will encompass what you want people to remember about your product, motivate them into action, and follow-up with your individual and unique story. Your branding may be international in scope or more-locally based for a community farmer’s market or in your own tasting room. Whatever the selling base, branding links message with memory and creates important customer recognition.
The above information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be substituted for professional business or legal counseling.