The creative services industry has a lot to answer for! Unfortunately there is a huge amount of confusion surrounding branding!
Much of the confusion stems from two scenarios:
Consequently the industry has confused audiences by coining often self-contradictory buzz-words and using them superficially or out of context. Not surprisingly the marketplace is left confused and skeptical.
It’s as simple as that.
We have attempted to create some clarity through concise definitions within a consistent frame of reference – a difficult task given to the sheer volume of confusion and misunderstanding that surrounds the topic.
Read more on the advantages of branding and how brand can influence buying decisions.
Branding encompasses much more than the visual realm. It’s the process of influencing the perception of a business or product, and any sensory experience can be used as a branding opportunity. Audible and emotional communication are very much part of the process, and can play a significant role in forming an impression of the company. In competitive environments, or to position themselves as an industry leader, smart businesses harness the impact of all interactions with consumers to differentiate themselves from their competitors and influence consumer perception.
Some interactions or “touch-points” will have a greater impact than others, and some companies decide to sacrifice certain branding opportunities to meet real or self-imposed budgetary constraints, or lack the knowledge of the importance of branding.
The process of “branding” animals with a mark of ownership was a concept adopted by manufacturers of yesteryear to identify their products. However, branding has evolved from its origins of signifying ownership into a higher-level marketing strategy. To the point that a brand that signifies ownership, and a brand as a perception, have very different meanings. Both exist, but they are far from being the same.
Today, branding is concerned with creating a perception in the minds of consumers rather than displaying an identifying mark or promoting a name. The problem is that the branding “frame of reference” – the collective understanding – and related terminology have not been suitably redefined to reflect the fundamental changes to what a brand is and how it is created. Thus the common confusion between a logo or name and a brand.
This was published by a reputable Australian marketing company:
“What is a brand? Marketers engaged in branding seek to develop or align the expectations behind the brand experience, creating the impression that a brand associated with a product or service has certain qualities or characteristics that make it special or unique. A brand image may be developed by attributing a ‘personality’ to or associating an ‘image’ with a product or service, whereby the personality or image is ‘branded’ into the consciousness of consumers.”
This is a typical example of superficial attempts by “experts” at a definition that actually gives no clear definition at all. At least this consultant does refer to “creating and impression”, but contradictory concepts and terms create ambiguity and confusion. Why is this so common? Most likely due to a poorly-defined understanding of what is branding strategy – they are attempting to reconcile incompatible concepts.
One such consultancy states on their website that “perception creates brand experience”. I say experiences create perception.
Splitting hairs? It is superficiality and confusion at this foundational level that builds a very inconsistent and fractured understanding of branding that crumbles when put under the pressure of scrutiny. Incompatible concepts and a lack of clear definitions have exploded into an epidemic of confusion and ambiguity such that even industry “experts” regularly contradict themselves with the terms they use. I sincerely hope this is not true of me also, although I’ve been just as indoctrinated as the rest of you, so it is possible!
This is a journey of clarification that perhaps has not reached the destination just yet, but I’m confident that we are heading in the right direction.
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