A brand identity is simply how customers perceive your product. Your brand is reflected in everything presented to your customers, from design of your product, to communications, to how your employees interact with them.
A brand identity can make or break a company
Public relations are the way a strong brand is truly established and advertising is how the brand is maintained. If a brand is successful in making a connection with people and communicating its distinct advantage, people will want to tell others about it and word-of- mouth advertising will develop naturally—not to mention writers in the press will want to write about the brand. Once that type of differentiation is established in the market’s mind, advertising can help maintain and shape the brand.
What you need to do in branding is to communicate what the brand distinctively stands for using as few words or images as possible. So remember, branding is all about creating singular distinction, strategic awareness, and differentiation in the mind of the target market–not just awareness. When you have been successful, you will start building equity for your brand.
Points of Parity
Discussion of strategic awareness, points of singular distinction, and brand equity would not be complete without discussion of brand points of parity. Points of parity are those associations that are often shared by competing brands. Consumers view these associations as being necessary to be considered a legitimate product offering within a given category.
In other words, if you create what you consider to be a wonderful point of differentiation and position, they might not be enough if consumers do not view your product or service as measuring up on “minimum product expectations”. Points of parity are necessary for your brand but are not sufficient conditions for brand choice. For example, Maruti might produce a wonderful new automobile that uses advanced global positioning and sensor technologies that render a driver obsolete by automatically routing the car, adjusting speed for traffic conditions, recognizing and complying with all traffic laws, and delivering passengers and cargo to the proper destination without the need for operator intervention. They have invented the first car with functional autopilot. What a strong position and unique selling proposition! However, unless they have fully considered their brand’s points of parity with other products in the category, they probably will not meet with success.
Consumers might expect that at minimum Maruti’s automobile have four wheels with rubber, inflatable tires, be street legal, run on a widely-available fuel source, be able to operate during both night and day in most weather conditions, seat at least two people comfortably with luggage, be able to operate on existing roads and highways, and provide a fair level of personal safely to occupants. If their automobile does not possess these points of parity with competing brands, then it might be too different and might not be seen as a viable choice or a strong brand.
The benefits of a strong brand
Here are just a few benefits you will enjoy when you create a strong brand:
- A strong brand influences the buying decision and shapes the ownership experience.
- Branding creates trust and an emotional attachment to your product or company. This attachment then causes your market to make decisions based, at least in part, upon emotion — not necessarily just for logical or intellectual reasons.
- A strong brand can command a premium price and maximize the number of units that can be sold at that premium.
- Branding helps make purchasing decisions easier. In this way, branding delivers a very important benefit. In a commodity market where features and benefits are virtually indistinguishable, a strong brand will help your customers trust you and create a set of expectations about your products without even knowing the specifics of product features.
- Branding will help you “fence off” your customers from the competition and protect your market share while building mind share. Once you have mind share, your customers will automatically think of you first when they think of your product category.
- A brand is something that nobody can take away from you. Competitors may be able to copy your products, your patents will someday expire, trade secrets will leak to the competition, your proprietary manufacturing plant will eventually become obsolete, but your brand will live on and continue to be uniquely yours.
In fact, a strong brand name may be your most valuable asset. Brands help people connect with one another.