The Importance of Branding

Why Branding is Important
A brand is frequently represented by a logo, sign, name, colour or another image for customers to recognise your business. All these visual cues work together to form a brand image. A by-line or positioning statement can be used in conjunction with the brand to help customers recall and understand the brand.

Effective branding is no longer about the product or service. It is about building a strong, unifying and long-lasting relationship between your business, your employees and customers. Branding is a fundamental and differentiating necessity for any business that wants to be noticed by consumers in a competitive marketplace and succeed.

A brand should be an accurate representation of your product or business, relevant and well designed to stand out from the competition. Every time your brand is displayed whether on your business stationery, electronic messages, marketing collateral, your website, advertisements and so on. It should always be shown in a consistent manner (colour, font, size etc). It is important to build your brand to best reflect your business, what it offers, its culture and what it stands for. A strong and successful brand should:

  • Deliver its message clearly
  • Confirm your business’s credibility
  • Resonate with your target market emotionally
  • Enhance and promote brand loyalty

Brands are not just for visual differentiation of its products and services with competing brands. A brand communicates vital information about your business, products and services to your target market. It often reflects the quality of your products, services and the way you conduct business. Your brand is the source of a promise to your customers. Customers are always willing to purchase products they know and trust based on a good brand. A strong brand will help to give you a competitive advantage in the market. If you haven’t decided upon your company name make sure you check domain name availability first before committing and how your name would rank in search engines - for example don’t pick something like ‘Apple Lives’ as this will be dominated by another very well established brand.

It is not enough to educate your target market or the general public about your brand. Brand strategy starts from within your organisation. Educating your staff on the nuances, personality and objectives of your brand is vital to relay a synergistic and unifying brand strategy that permeates throughout your organisation. Encouraging your staff to become proud of your brand will enhance your brand profile and goodwill. In addition, asking your staff for feedback and opinions regarding brand strategy will assist in reviewing and improving the effectiveness of your brand and business performance.

Review Your Brand
Reviewing your brand periodically is essential as consumer markets change and your brand must be able to evolve in order to stay relevant and ahead of your competition. You can review your brand based on various factors, such as financial performance or social media activity. How do your clients perceive your brand? Not only must you properly and effectively manage your brand, you must protect it from misuse. Ensure you have Brand Specifications and that they are passed onto other designers, printers etc so they can follow the guidelines to maintain your brand's integrity.

Protecting your Brand
Protecting your Intellectual property (IP) creates a significant barrier to competitors, builds credibility and adds value, helping to prevent other business imitating your brand without legal consequences.
There are two main types of Intellectual Property:

  • Unregistered IP – this includes copyright, trade secrets, confidential information and unregistered trademarks.
  • Registered IP – this consists of patents, trademarks and design rights.

IP registration gives your business an exclusive legal right (in the country where the IP is registered), enabling you to:

  1. Prevent others from using your IP without your permission.
  2. Prevent others from imitating your brand.
  3. Sell or trade your IP right.
  4. License your IP to another, generate royalties or licence fees.
  5. Create loyalty for your brand or business, backed by a trademark.

The best way to protect your brand in New Zealand is to register it with the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) under the Trademarks Act 2002. To qualify for registration, a brand must be so distinctive that consumers associate it with your business and not anyone else’s. When your trademark is registered, you can use the ® symbol to alert other businesses to your rights. If your brand is not registered, you can use the TM symbol instead.

Protecting your brand online is also crucial. Your brand’s reputation is invaluable and it is vital to protect it. Every action and decision you make, you are either building or weakening your brand. But it is not just your actions but those of the public. Perception of your brand is reality. If someone is writing about your brand or business, you need to know about it. You can monitor your brand through the use of social network tools such as Google Alerts to keep up-to-date on discussions or news about your brand.

Positive reviews or comments about your brand will increase its value and reputation. Negative comments about your brand, on the other hand, can be potentially damaging. Instead of shying away, embrace such comments - be honest and deal with the issue and take steps to rectify.

Branding is the cornerstone of any marketing strategy and business plan and employing the assistance of professional guidance can be a worthwhile investment. When you manage and improve your brand status, it will become an immensely powerful tool to help grow your business, its recall and reputation.

If you would like assistance with reviewing or establishing your brand contact Philippa on 03 474 1075.