The Five Elements of Branding

Branding is more than just an icon. Branding is every thought, feeling or idea associated with your name and logo. Nike. Mattel. Hallmark. When I hear the word Nike, I think of the swoosh, athletics, great commercials and overcoming labor protests. For Mattel, I think of toys, fun and a sense of trust, built from a lifetime of following the brand. Hallmark reminds me of graduation cards, birthday cards, my parents and sentimental movies. Each of these companies have a strong brand. These thoughts that came to my mind are all a part of the brand. When considering your brand, it’s important to address the five elements to branding that interplay in the mind of customer.

The Position

Why should someone want to do business with you? Where do you stand in the mind of your target customer compared to others in your market? How do you stack up against your competitors in customer loyalty? Price? What makes you stand out in the marketplace? Black & Decker makes a line of Do-It-Yourself tools. Black & Decker is an example of a company that has positioned itself in the mind of the customer as quality tools at a reasonable price.

The Promise

The consistent experience a target customer will have when engaging with your brand becomes the expectation of a strong brand. Will it always be friendly and easy? Will calls be transferred over and over? Do you always deliver on-time? When FedEx started out, they had to find something that would differentiate them from their competitors. They made a promise to the consumer that they would deliver all packages within 24 hours. They have been so successful at keeping this promise, that it is what the consumer expects every time they chose FedEx.

The Personality

This is the emotion or thought evoked when someone hears your brand name. Are you rugged like Caterpillar, soft like Downy, innovative like Apple? How did you handle a recent faux pas? Is it all business with you or are you seen as fun to work with? American Express used to target the wealthy to use their Corporate Card. They have since changed their focus to target small business owners. They engaged with small business owners in contests and aggressive advertising campaigns and portrayed themselves as champions of small business. Turning their focus, they expanded their customer portfolio and resulted in increased success.

The Story

This is the element that gives you credibility – it tells where you came from, how you got here and who you are. Did you’re grandmother come from Italy with nothing but this recipe? Did the merger of two small players create synergy? Do you support the food pantry in every community in which you have a presence? These are all parts of a story that gets wrapped up in a brand. Tom’s is one of the fastest growing shoe companies in the world but has spent very little money on traditional advertising. They offer to donate a pair of shoes for each purchased. Their brand story is so compelling, it was spread word of mouth to purchasers and those wanting to work for the shoe company.

The Associations (or Accessories)

This is the look of your brand and it goes beyond logos. All of the elements must come together in a singular representation of your brand – from the website to the front office to the packaging. Does your website reflect your outgoing communication pieces? How does your lobby reflect your brand? How do your employees reflect your brand? What are your visual standards and requirements? Crayola is a great example of this. One of their core values is that they believe in nurturing and celebrating colorful originality. In looking at their website, their packaging, even their factory (where they offer family tours), you cannot mistake who this company is and what they believe.

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