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The what, why and how of branding in the digital era

By Grayson Julius

So branding, not exactly a novelty, right? It's been around for centuries. Granted back when iron rods were used to mark gladiators(yes I do mean slaves), branding wasn't by any means popular. But since then, we have come so far to a point where someone can actually say without shame or stuttering that they are a branding strategist or expert. But what does branding actually mean? At least in modern terms?

1. The 'WHAT'

Branding, to me, is the identity of a product or service. It’s the name, the logo, the design, or a combination of those that people use to identify, and differentiate, what they’re about to buy. A good brand should deliver a clear message, provide credibility, connect with customers emotionally, motivate the buyer, and create user loyalty

Building a great product is the first step towards making it profitable, that however is by no means the last step, not even close. Customers have to be informed about, coerced to buy and most importantly remember your product so they can tell their friends about it so they too can come acquire 'ol dat goodness'. Now this, is where branding comes in. A really clever person by the name of Chris Ducker once said "Branding is what people say about you when you're not in the room." While this may sound simple and uncomplicated, it can not be further from either of those things. Forming an idea of what you or your product is in people's heads is not an overnight task, it's a slow, careful process which when done properly has of course huge returns.

2. The 'WHY'

This might have been hinted upon above, but let's dive a bit deeper. Branding makes your product immediately recognizable to potential customers. For instance, wherever you are in the world, if you see a swooshing check mark you immediately go like 'there goes a Nike product' and even if you don't say it out loud, your brain still makes that connection.

Create familiarity

Branding a product or business branding makes it familiar, and people like familiar things because they feel safe and when people feel safe they are more likely to relate to your business or product.

Persona association

Brands can be associated with personas and standard, for instance Woolworth is classy, Nike is daring and sporty, Mercedes Benz is reliable and so on. So, when a person is trying to be associated with a particular persona or requires a particular standard, they are likely to look towards a brand that is associated with it whether consciously or subconsciously.

3. The 'HOW'

So, how does one create a brand? - carefully of course. No seriously, it is a careful, smart and resilient process that may or may not involve a lot of trial and error to get it just right for consumption by the masses.

Business or Product Name

Branding starts really early when you pick a name, some may even say that is the most important part of the branding process, because if you're name is catchy, relatable and easy to remember, people will do just that, remember it. You've probably heard the phrase why don't you 'google' that. Now that's branding at it's very best working for Google.

The Logo

Recently I came across the video above and while it has a bit of a conspiracy theory vibe, it still makes one thing clear, logos are not just simple drawings and words that you scrap together to represent you; they are as important as the product you're selling and the brand you're trying to build. Logos can be sales representatives all on their own once your brand has gained enough credibility.