What is branding? Why should companies care about it?
This is part of an ongoing series of articles sharing our thoughts, insights, and conversations on brand-related topics including brand strategy, communications, and design.
Branding has clearly evolved. What originally served as a simple way to identify one product over another has grown into an asset so valuable that it has the potential to make or break a business—regardless of how good their products and services are. In this episode, we explore the definition of branding, and why branding as an activity should be something companies care more about.
What is branding?
Branding has clearly changed in meaning over the last 30 years.
30 years ago a brand was literally a product with a logo on the shelf. And there are still some companies that think that way, but I think nowadays we see branding as much more than that.
Anything can be a brand. A product can be a brand, but so can a building—Taipei 101. A country can be a brand—Switzerland. Even a human being can be a brand—Obama or Donald Trump. They're brands too.
But that doesn't help us understand how to create a successful band and that's where branding comes in. So branding is the actual act of building or creating the idea or the essence of something, which clearly goes beyond just what it is. You have to shape what it is.
- Mark Stocker, Managing Director
For me, I feel that branding is a promise that you keep to your customers. What you say about your brand is something like a value you should be able to deliver to your customers.
Also, a brand is something you have to do constantly. It never stops, it’s something continuous that you keep working on so that your customers can feel that your brand is alive. It’s not advertising, with some kind of limit or time-frame. Branding is a thing that’s part of your day-to-day business. That’s what branding is.
- Sean Chiang, Communications Strategist
A brand is a company’s unique personality and a way for consumers to identity your products or services.
- Camile Lin, Designer
A brand isn’t what you say it is, it’s what other people say it is. It’s other people’s perception of your company or your business.
This means that—as a company—you can put a lot of effort into painting the type of picture you want people to see, and say a lot of nice things about who you are and what you think you do. You can even have internal agreement on those things. But if people outside your company don’t believe those things, it means nothing.
So yes, branding is about understanding who you are and what you want to stand for, but it’s also about knowing what you CAN stand for—authentically—and how this can impact people’s perception of your products and services.
- Chris W. Hubbard, Communications Strategist
Why should companies care about branding?
The key to brand management is having a clear understanding of the value of your brand, and demonstrating the best side of your brand.
If you understand the value your brand creates for others, then they can better understand your brand. For a company, if people fully understand your services, products and market differentiator, then you are much more likely to stand out in the market.
- Kris Tsao, Creative Director
Having a strong brand is having a strong personality. If you're trying to find new clients and you want people to trust you, then there has to be something they can trust about you, and believe in. There has to be something they can connect with.
- Madeleine Work, Communications Strategist
Companies should care about branding because it strengthens their market power. This applies to companies both big and small. We're seeing a lot of younger companies. Branding used to be dominated by large conglomerates with a lot of money to spend on TV and magazines and in newspapers, but we're seeing newer, smaller brands gaining more attention through different media and channels that can amplify brand messaging.
- Christina Hsu, PR & Marketing Manager