To me branding is establishing a two-sided relationship by matching the needs of specific market segments with your company core competencies.
It begins with devising the products, services, infrastructure and mindset to be of importance to your market. Then, you â€œdialogâ€ with market members in a way meaningful to them. The entire branding process is based on interpreting the marketâ€™s needs and desires and communicating a solution in a unique, memorable, relevant and appropriate way.
Branding isnâ€™t a function of the marketing department and ad agency alone. Itâ€™s the responsibility of the executive office residents to lead the development of the brand or brands through their actions as well as direction. The company drives the brand, and the brand drives the company.
The brand is the mission, the value proposition, the vision, the corporate goals and the corporate culture in action. It is the personality and the core of the organization.
This doesnâ€™t just apply to the one-product company, either. Each product in the portfolio will be there because it â€œfitsâ€. Each service might appeal to different market segments, but will be backed by the corporate commitment that differentiates it from competitors and makes it desirable to prospects and customers.
Each offering may be branded separately as far as having separate brand elements such as names, logos, packaging, etc., but all should have a consistent, unabashed connection to the greater brand â€“ the corporate commitment to establishing strong and lasting relationships with market members through an honest desire to be of great service to them.
If this sounds much like something you encountered several years ago as â€œcorporate imageâ€ or corporate identityâ€, Iâ€™d just suggest that â€œa rose by any other name would smell as sweetâ€.
Branding is a strategic function. It should have a champion at the very highest corporate level in charge of forming, communicating, policing, assessing and evolving the brand in all its facets and faces.