A brand is so much more than a name of a product or service. A brand is actually a compilation of associations – whether intellectual or emotional – that consumers build around that name through exposure to marketing, advertising, PR, or even through encounters with the company that manufactures that product or offer that service.
These associations or images people attach to a brand can last long after a brand’s lifetime – Kodak’s “Time of Our Lives” campaign was the classic walk down memory lane that made the toughest TV viewer shed tears, and the brand will always stay in people’s hearts, reminding them of cherished moments with families and friends.
Another brand that will stay big in consumers’ minds forever is Coca-Cola. The strength of the brand lies in practically making people forget that it’s, after all, just a soft drink in a bottle or can. People associate the brand Coca-Cola with being young, global, hip, free, confident that everything they want in life waits just around the corner.
This indisputable fact is acknowledged by a Coca-Cola executive who said, “if Coca-Cola were to lose all of its production-related assets in a disaster, the company would survive. By contrast, if all consumers were to have a sudden lapse of memory and forget everything related to Coca-Cola, the company would go out of business”.
If a brand is to successfully live and breathe through the associations created in consumers’ minds, then it’s the job of branding to maintain these associations. Through the strategic use of corporate design – logo, signage, stationery, staff uniform, fleet and office interiors – advertising, marketing, and corporate culture trickle all the way down to distribution and sales outlets where the consumers will make that crucial decision to choose the brand.
Branding makes the brand stand out among its competitors, and stay closer to consumers wherever they may be, and attempts to make the consumers’ associations with the brand stronger and more long-term.
When Apple launched its iPod, branding created a whole new image for Apple, moving the brand away from a purely business point of view to mass market entertainment, relying on consumers’ highly emotional associations with music and films, their own music and films, available anytime and anywhere they go. Since Apple already had the loyalty of its creative community, it was only logical to offer products that encompass their personal interests and aspirations.
If the brand is the story, then branding is the storyteller. A long-lasting brand must have a believable story that branding can expand into a saga that goes on and on, with new chapters – new products, service upgrades, events – added every now and then, keeping the brand alive in the consumers’ collective psyche.
The term brand has evolved with time, as well, to include individual persons. With the internet exposing all kinds of stories from around the world, film and TV personalities have become brands. The likes of Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Simon Cowell, celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver, have all become entrenched in the minds of consumers.
People are obsessed with knowing what these “stars” wear, what they buy, where they eat, thus creating a need for brands promoted by the brands themselves.
Consumers have been known to prefer a branded product with a great reputation and that reputation is built by branding, transforming a corporate identity into a symbol of the consumer’s personal taste and lifestyle, generating positive and long-lasting associations for the brand.
As these ageless and universal brands continue to prove, effective branding is so powerful that it can transform a brand into a living, breathing entity that will stay in its consumers’ minds and hearts for years to come.
Brands’ owners and decision makers have to respect how these great brands succeeded and travelled with time in full coordination by a qualified strategic branding agency based on research, findings and clear goals and objectives.
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