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10 Elements of Branding

Branding is one of the most important functions for a comprehensive, integrated marketing program designed to raise awareness and create interest because the branding of a product (or Company) establishes and maintains consumer expectations and embeds qualities and characteristics into the product that serve to create a relationship with consumers – establishing loyalty and repeat sales. The residual sales benefit of branding, along with its value creation element – because a strong brand in and of itself is considered a measurable asset – lead Tudog to once again explore the "how to" aspect of good branding. This article offers 10 insights that should be" considered when developing, nurturing and growing your brand.

The 10 elements to consider are:

1. Integrity – Your product or service needs to actually do what you say it does and deliver the benefits you claim it delivers. Brands can’t be launched and sustained on hype alone because ultimately consumers will discover that the product fails in its promise. If this happens, instead of a strong brand, you could have a negative brand, which is worse than no brand at all and extremely expensive and time consuming to reverse (if possible at all). Your product (and your company) needs to have integrity in order to have a strong brand. Promise only what you can deliver - and deliver what you promise.

2. Trustworthiness – while integrity speaks to the quality of your products and the need for them to deliver what you say you will, trustworthiness points to the behavior of your company and its need to maintain a posture that is consistent with your brand. Your company needs to behave in accordance with the image it is developing for its products so that there are no inconsistencies competitors (and consumers) can pick up on to diminish the brand. For example, a company that is building its brand around “caring” cannot be found to have knowingly distributed sub-quality products to lesser “important” markets. In this case, any demonstration of reduced caring will result in the company’s entire brand being called into question.

3. Precision – doublespeak is BS and everyone can read through it. Nobody has the time or the interest to interpret your brand or help you define yourself. You need to do that and with the clarity and simplicity necessary to make your brand both easy to understand and easy to relate to. Any effort to be creative to the point of confusion will simply leave the consumers unengaged. They may use your products, but they will not develop a relationship with your company, and if a competitor offers a similar product and it appears to be a better value, they will switch because you have failed, through your branding, to earn their loyalty.

4. Purpose – your brand needs to meet a need or want in the market segment you are targeting. You need to be relevant to your audience and tap into the way they see themselves. For example, a brand seeking to sell to senior citizens might not want to communicate its purpose in the same way a brand seeking to recruit believers from the teen market would. Each would try to tap into the values and ideals of its respective

5. Reliable – your brand needs to perform all the time. The foundation of your brand is that it delivers the same consumer experience every time it is engaged. This provides consumers with a degree of certainty and confidence, and also enables them to establish a relationship, because they know what to expect and trust that you will always meet their expectations.

6. Visible – branding is in many ways achieved by exposure and then reinforced by action. Adhering to the principles of a brand is essential for maintaining it, but exposing the brand is critical for its development. You need to make certain your brand is out there in front of the people with whom you want to develop your relationship. By getting out there and staying out there you are able to introduce, establish, and maintain your message.

7. Involvement – branding is in some ways about community, and the more engaged in the community that is your market you become, the more integrated into the lives of your core consumers you will be. That is why athletic related companies sponsor sporting events, and youth oriented companies sponsor entertainment events, and so on. You need to be involved in the lives of your consumers so you become part of the lives of your consumers.

8. Dedication – you do not brand for the moment. If you decide to take the path of establishing your brand you do so with the understanding that (a) it is going to take some time and require some resources to get going, and (b) once it is established you will need to continue to feed it time and money, as well as adhere to and behave according to the principles the brand represents.

9. Movement – most brands evolve because the products they represent either change or the brand comes to include more products. The expansion of a brand is tricky business because in many instances companies have tried to extent the goodwill and relationships of an established brand into product areas where the brand has little or no meaning. This leads to the failure of the brand in the new arena and a dilution of the brand in its core area. However, when the new products are consistent with the core products and can serve to represent the same ideals and principles of the core products, then expanding the brand can be seen by consumers as a welcomes addition.

10. Living – brands are living, breathing beings. They need to be nurtured and tended to and grown. They need to be adjusted and refined. Like everything we have a relationship with, we want our brands to be simultaneously dependable and exciting. We  do not want to feel like we are being taken for granted, and we do not want to feel like we are being let down. Truly successful brands have relationships with their customers that lead those customers to expect both sufficient movement to show the brand is alive and vibrant, while maintaining the core strengths of the product. Branding is important because of the stability it brings us and the value it can help us create. Not every product or company can be branded (or should be) to the extent major national brands are defined. But almost every company and every product can benefit from some degree of definition and distinction. Using the parameters of branding can help get this done.

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