The importance of branding has been emphasized many times, and studies have established a link between the success of a brand and the company. Branding is a business and marketing process that has been around for many, many years. Brands are commonly understood as an identifier – to differentiate goods and services from one company to another. Brands play a role for consumers and companies in different ways.
The guidelines to building a strong brand, according to David Aaker, who is considered the “Father of Modern Branding”, is the following:
Brand-as-organization refers to the brand’s organizational attributes, whether it is a local or global organization.
Brand-as-person refers to the personality of the brand, and the relationship between the brand and the customer.
Brand-as-symbol refers to the imagery, visual components, metaphors and heritage of the brand. One of the most valuable assets of a company is its brand. A brand is not just a physical product (Coca-Cola, Toyota, Nescafe, Sony) but it can also refer to services (United Airlines, FedEx), retail stores (Wal-Mart, Target), online businesses (Google, eBay), People (Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey), organizations (Red Cross, IBM), places and geographic locations (Las Vegas, Paris), and even causes and ideas (World Wild Life Fund, pink ribbon branding for breast cancer awareness).
We now know that brand identity is an important aspect of the branding process. Brand identity is, however, different from the brand image. It is important for every business owner and entrepreneur to know the difference between image and identity when it comes to their brand.
Despite being two different ideas, brand identity and the brand image does not work against each other but are rather complementary of one another. As a start-up entrepreneur or a business owner, it is important to focus on shaping your brand identity first. Your brand image is the result of how you properly and effectively built your brand through a strong brand identity and effective brand strategies.
Your company will use brand identity to positively influence the image your stakeholders or customers hold. When building your brand, ask “how do I want to be perceived by my customers?” In order to cultivate the right brand identity. Brand identity is not just about the product – it also reflects the personality, culture, and values of an organization which also presents a strong selling point to consumers. Customer perception shapes the image of the brand thus it is crucial to truly consider the vision, mission, values, and personality that your brand stands for. Customers that can relate or share a company’s values and beliefs are most likely to support and stay loyal to them.