If you have two identical products and put a brand name on one and a generic name on the other, the brand name product would obviously be perceived as having higher value, despite the fact that both products are identical.
However, if you take someone who has been raised on a desert island, free from modern society and all the media and advertising associated with it and present the two products to him, he probably wonâ€™t be able to tell the difference between the two.
Clearly there is power in branding and advertising plays a big role in it as seen from the example above. Branding has the power to shape our perceptions and heavily influence our buying decisions which just begs the question, how are brands formed? What gives them their power? What can we learn from the branding process that we can apply in our own lives?
Before any brand can wield any sort of influence, a specific message must be crafted that represents what the brand is all about. This is so important because it gives the company something to work with in order to guide all its decisions and actions it takes in developing its products or services. The message also acts as a simple association that people can remember to link to the brand name. Simplicity definitely plays a big role in aiding in this whole process.
After that, the message is clearly communicated convincingly to the masses through advertising. This is where you have your TV commercials, billboards, magazine ads, newspaper ads, etc. In any event, the message is pounded through every medium available into the minds of the masses.
If the first two parts of the branding process have been properly executed, then the product or service will usually be congruent to the message of the brand.
Then, the message must be sustained over a long period of time before it really, truly becomes a brand in the fullest sense of the word.
Once a company has been decided upon as to what the brand is all about, it must sustain that message in all itâ€™s dealings in the future and any lapse in sustaining that message can have severe negative consequences to the brand name.
During the time the message is being sustained, people will buy the product or service and they will in turn, spread the message to others as to what exactly the brand is all about and whether it lives up to that message or not.
This happens until you hit critical mass. When enough people accept the brand mentality, you can see them literally do all the advertising for the company. Word of mouth, using the products and services in everyday life in view of other people, media coverage, famous people using the product etc., it all starts to spill over and you get a massive exponential effect in terms of brand awareness.
When people see everyone else buying products under that brand, they think that the brand must be something good in order for that many people to buy its products, so they follow right along in step â€“ the very essence of social proof.
Think of all the brands you see in day to day life and youâ€™ll usually see this whole process come into play.
A simple message about the brand that dictates company action and also acts as an association to the brand – luxury, reliability, toughness, service, etc., the message being pounded over and over, the message being sustained while people buy, and the inevitable spreading of the brand message until critical mass, making the brand that much stronger as its simple message begins to spread exponentially.
Companies spend millions of dollars on branding because branding pays off so much in the end.
And the ultimate end result of great branding that justifies the enormous cost used in developing it is leverage.
After companies establish their brand, youâ€™ll often see them spilling over into other products and services, bringing along their brand message and hoping it will carry over into these new areas and more often that not, it does.
The key here is that these companies no longer have to spend time and money on establishing their brand. Itâ€™s already there. Theyâ€™re beginning to move things under the â€śumbrellaâ€ť of the brand and the spillover effect works in their favor.
When a brand is built from the ground up and sustained over a long period of time, huge leverage that you can apply to other areas is the big payoff.
So whatâ€™s this got to do with the individual?
Itâ€™s the exact same thing with the only difference being that another word is used instead of brand.
We all have our own brand and itâ€™s our reputation.
Who are you? What do you stand for? What do you believe? In other words, whatâ€™s your message?
Do you let that message influence and dictate your everyday thoughts and actions so that you become congruent to it?
Do you back it up?
Do you sustain it?
Is it simple enough to understand so that people can spread it?
Itâ€™s important that we understand the process of branding because itâ€™s the exact same process we use to create our reputation.
The easiest example that comes to mind to illustrate all this is a person who has the reputation of keeping their word. Itâ€™s not everyday you find people who have this kind of reputation.
Their message is crafted and simple and easy to understand. They use it to dictate all their thoughts and actions to become congruent with it. They back it up. People in their social circle begin to take notice. They sustain it over a long period of time, strengthening it in the process, and soon enough, everybody they know views this person as having a reputation of keeping their word.
Can you imagine the kind of leverage this person would have with this kind of brand?
Branding is powerful indeed and thatâ€™s why itâ€™s so important for us to recognize exactly what the whole process is all about.
But whatâ€™s more important is that we take a proactive approach to developing our own brand because if we donâ€™t, youâ€™ll find that others will be more than willing to do it for you and the message will probably be one that you wonâ€™t be too happy with or agree with. And add to that, it will probably spread and sustain itself, making it that much harder for you to change it.
Take matters into your own hands by taking the time to decide how you want to brand yourself and spend time backing it up and sustaining it and what youâ€™ll find is that the leverage you have as a result will be priceless.