The 5 biggest misconceptions about branding

In 1960, The American Marketing Association’s definition of a “brand” focused on tangible attributes. “A name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of the competitors,” the group said then.

That definition is accurate, but incomplete.

A lot has changed in 56 years, and branding has evolved into a broader concept.

Now let’s dispel the five common misconceptions:

1. Branding doesn’t offer value

If you understand that branding involves the stories, promises, relationships and advocacy that consumers have with a brand, then imagine if those stories were all negative.  Promises always broken. What would it look like if consumers didn’t feel they mattered, ever?  Customers would likely speak negatively about your brand – in person and on social media – and discourage others from trying your products or services.  Surely that would impact your bottom line.

I think Seth Godwin, marketer, prolific author and public speaker says it well:

“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another,” Godwin says.  If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.”

2. The logo is the brand. Period.

Patrick Hanlon wrote for Forbes’ CMO Network, “Logos are just a single part of the total brand cosmology that includes icons (which includes not only logos but also packaging, product design, and other senses including taste, touch, sound and smell), rituals, creation story, creed.”

Rather than stopping once your logo is completed,  fully develop your brand by creating the stories that define  it and furthering the promise to your audience.

3. If you’re a B2B, you certainly don’t need to brand.

Because branding started and flourishes in the B2C world of consumer businesses, and there is at times a reluctance of some business B2B marketers hesitate to adopt branding practices. It’s a misconception that B2Bs don’t need to concern themselves with the emotional aspect of an organization’s decision-marking (purchasing) process.

That’s only true if your B2B has no reason to build trust, keep promises, differentiate or potentially grow.

As the Lippincott international branding agency in wrote in Rise and Rise of B2B, “B2B organizations need robust, coherent brands if they are to grow … B2B branding involves rethinking how a B2B company is viewed by a range of stakeholders—not just customers, suppliers and investors but also potential acquisition targets and future employees.”

4. Your product or service is vastly more important than the brand.

Actually, it is quite the opposite.

“The first thing any entrepreneur needs to do is figure out how to get consumers to love you,” Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Kevin Roberts explains in this video.

He adds, “You’d better start thinking about how you are going to create loyalty beyond reason,” and “make your business promise irresistible,”

5. Branding has to be expensive.

Branding itself is usually not the most expensive part of the process costs only the time and energy of the people involved in the process. Employing a variety of marketing, advertising and PR tactics to effectively convey the brand message is where the most substantial investment is made.

Building and maintaining a powerful brand takes engagement, loyalty and advocacy and doesn’t happen overnight. Successful branding is a process that evolves over time.

Need some help with your brand?  Contact us.

Author: Deneen Winters Bloom
Deneen Winters Bloom is our Director of Client Services.

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