Brand name, brand experience, brand awareness, brand recognition, brand image, brand franchise, and brand identity…just to name a few. Thanks Wikipedia. Here’s the definition of brand that I like:
The word brand has continued to evolve to encompass identity – in effect the personality of a product, company or service.
Is there a more misunderstood or overused term in marketing than “brand?” I hear the term in planning sessions and see it all over the news, but how can something that is intangible cause such a stir in the corporate world?
In a recent CNET article about the world’s strongest brands, the top tech companies recognized included industry heavyweights Google, IBM and Apple. In fact, Google was the winner for the fourth straight year. Sort of funny when you think about it since IBM and Apple have actual products you can touch whereas Google is really just an online tool, albeit one that has effectively taken over the Web.
Here is the top 10 ranking of global brands in 2010 by research firm Millward Brown Optimor in its fifth annual “BrandZ Top 100 report“.
So as we talk about building brand, really, what does brand mean to you? To me Kleenex is a brand—do you ask someone for a tissue or a Kleenex when you’re about to sneeze? The name has effectively taken the place of the product line. I always have considered Sony a strong brand because it stands for quality products. I used to feel that way about Toyota but that’s another story.
A common attribute of brand in advertising that I see is the ability to identify with the product and want to emulate it on some level, like the Michael Jordan commercials with Gatorade (“Be like Mike”) or the Air Jordan shoes.
So in today’s day and age why is brand so important?
Because it’s all about building trust and strengthening brand loyalty. With so many choices available to consumers and companies, as well as so many mediums (radio, TV, social media, etc.) to reach target customers, companies are striving to keep their customers. It’s common knowledge that it costs less to maintain a customer relationship than to secure a new customer.
My feeling is that we’ve seen an uptick in the growth in usage of the term “brand” due to the rise of social media. Tools such as Facebook and MySpace not only give companies a way to reach their customers, but it creates a two-way dialogue that lets the customer engage with the company on an entirely different level. I’ve read about many smart companies that have added an element of customer service via Twitter. Sounds pretty smart to me.
So how can companies strive to instill more “personality” in their brand? What are some unique ways that companies are doing this?
Author: Rob Goodman
Rob Goodman is a communications professional with more than 27 years of experience in public relations, marketing and content creation.