Brand Identity in the earlier days used to be the name, term, design, symbol, or other such distinctive feature that helps the customers distinguish the products and services. In recent days, brand identity constitutes the promise you make to your customer and the experience that you provide them. It helps them to get an idea of what the customers can expect from your products and services and what differentiates your products and services from your competitors.
Branding is believed to be the intangible asset and yet the most valuable asset of the company. Every year millions of startups are set up every year that roughly constitutes to about 3-4 startups are set up every second. Now, you might be wondering what happens to these startups. Almost 90% of these startups fail, and a majority of those that survive are not able to create a brand name for themselves. For an organization to stand up against its competitors and make a mark, branding is the first step. Having a strong brand identity is quite necessary to have a successful business.
While a majority of startups and SMEs are in the race to showcase their USP most innovatively through branding and advertising, an overlooked question pops up again in our minds. Is Branding an Identity or a Responsibility?
Branding as an Identity
Brand identity is the foundation of modern-day marketing campaigns. No matter the size of their business, marketers can’t even begin to develop a branding strategy without the defining elements of their brand – and this goes far beyond logo design.
From the underlying values, your business upholds, to the promise it delivers to customers, to the “tone of voice” you exhibit in your branding efforts, you craft your brand identity carefully to form a specific perception in your audience’s mind. Your name, logo, and the visual motifs you use in your branding materials are all a part of forming this image as you seek to influence how your potential customers will perceive your business.
Now, there’s one little fact we can instantly gather from this: the concept of a brand inherently entails emotion. Presenting largely intangible attributes, a strong branding strategy seeks to establish a relationship with the audience base, emanate trust, and promote loyalty (“brand loyalty” – a term you’ll run into often).
As numbers uphold businesses and define strategies, branding presents an interesting phenomenon of 21st-century marketing because of its innate reliance on emotions. The question is, to what extent should branding focus on emotions? How do marketers strike a balance between branding being an identity or a responsibility?
Branding as a Responsibility
Branding today is about reaching the right customer, on the right channel, on the right device. This fragmentation and complexity of always-on branding is here to stay and must be embraced by smart marketers. The days that a company could build a brand with a couple of TV commercials that evoke the same emotion are over. Today, marketers leverage emotions such as nostalgia, surprise, coziness, excitement, happiness, etc. to craft an authentic and powerful brand identity that positively influences consumers’ perception.
Well, that is branding when taken as a responsibility. The winners have been brands that resonate meaningfully with their customers and have a universal insight that drives their appeal. And that appeal depends to a large degree on how you bring your brand to life at every interaction during the customer journey, and the experiences that you create to embrace your customers.
Identity-driven brands must blend meaning – data that helps you understand how the brand is woven into people’s basic needs – and technology that helps connect with customers effectively and on their terms. These brands are adept at communicating with their audience by seeking permission and conversation rather than bombard people with interruptive messages.
Branding taken as an identity or a responsibility are not that far apart, after all. It seems that one encourages the other: brand identity seeks to leverage emotions to influence purchase intent, but brand responsibility includes data and facts that give valuable insight directing branding efforts in the right way.
In the end, we do need data to understand better what influences our audience – but data won’t craft a story for us. Branding today really seeks to reflect the best of both worlds. Do you think you’re on the right path to striking a balance between branding as an identity and a responsibility?