“You Promise?”: The Role of Branding

Posted by luke on


I know.

I get it.

Another article about branding?


I understand. The word “branding” has been the Poster-boy for consumerism, business and marketing gurus since it’s conception. We all know that branding is an important part of business, and it plays a crucial role in a customer’s mindset. WE GET IT. But, it feels like the word has lost all meaning. It’s like hearing the same joke 50 times in a row. Pretty soon, it’s not funny anymore.

‘So why are you talking about it then huh?’

I don’t like your tone. But, fair question.

The point of this blog post is to strip back the inescapable use of the word ‘branding’, and provide a more clear and simple definition of what it is and why it’s important. Even though the word has become a bit of a cliché, it is a cliché for a reason. It is a cornerstone of a business’ relationship with their customers.

Very simply put, a brand is a promise. More specifically it’s a promise made by a business to their customers about what to expect when using their product/service.

Let’s use an example. Imagine you really love Coke (I’m sure this isn’t hard, but I know you Pepsi fans are out there) and say Coke comes out with a new type of drink. Let’s call it “Coke Premium”. You get excited when you hear about this new drink and you go into the store to buy it. You skip out of the store, coke in hand and you open the golden wrapping around the bottle (didn’t I mention that it has gold wrapping? This is Coke Premium after all!). You twist off the top and take your highly anticipated sip. Much to your dismay, you spit out the coke because it tastes horrible.

Now, the feeling you feel at this moment is worse then just feeling like you wasted 3 bucks on a drink. You feel almost betrayed. Like Coke tricked you in some way.

Why is that?

It’s because you equated the “Coke” brand with a quality, enjoyable experience and they failed to deliver. They indirectly promised you an enjoyable drink, and then broke that promise. You expected more from them. They made this promise to you through the quality of their previous products and by their advertising campaigns.

This is what branding is. It’s a promise made by a business to their customers on what to expect from them. Sometimes the promise is direct, “You will LOVE xyz product”. Other times it is more indirect, when the customers assume that there will be a certain level of quality based on previous experiences with the company.

The value of a brand is the sum total off the consumers’ experiences and perceptions of it. When one of those things changes, then so will the brands value.

We see this happen all of the time. If a company causes some negative experiences with it’s customers, or if the brand is painted in a negative light (by the media for example), the value of the brand goes down. Apple lost brand value when their maps weren’t up to scratch and Chick-fil-A lost brand value when their president bashed gay marriage. When people’s experiences and perceptions of the brands were altered, so was the brand value.

So why is it important?

A single company is like a single stall owner in a crowded market, screaming and jumping up and down trying to get people to notice him over the other stalls. If he actually manages to get someone to buy from him and they like his product, he needs a way of getting them back next time. If he never told them who he was, or never labelled his food with his brand, the customers would have no way of identifying his products. This would cause him to lose potential business in the future.

However, if he markets himself as “The Sexy Stall”, he gives his customers something to link their experiences with. His customers will know where to go to find his food AND he increases the chances of them trying new products (based on their expectation of his goods from the past.)

The competition is endless out there, so companies need a way to build a reputation with their consumers. Brands provide a way for consumers to recognise those companies in the market. But, as I said before, a Brand is a promise. A promise made by a business to their customers about what to expect when using their product/service.

Like in life, no one likes people who break promises. Companies who break those promises and provide a sub-par standard to what they usually provide will lose brand value (an subsequently, customers). But, those who keep their promises by keep the standard up will reap the benefits of customer trust and loyalty.

So remember, keep your promises.

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