Branding. It’s one of the most important – and most misunderstood – concepts in the world of marketing. I sat down with a couple of Saxum’s branding experts, Dan Martel and Chad Bianco, to find out exactly why branding is so fundamental for companies today.
How would you describe branding?
Dan: It’s the single most important thing that any organization has going for them. It’s their lifeblood, and their overall identity.
Chad: It represents how your audience sees you. It’s the feeling people get when they come in contact with your brand.
What is the biggest misconception about branding?
Dan: A lot of times, people think branding is a logo or a mark, and if that’s all they do to represent their organization, it’s good enough. What most companies fail to realize is that a brand is only what they put into it and it’s built over time.
Chad: You start with a name and logo, but then what? The Nike swoosh didn’t act on its own. People around the world are proud to wear that brand because there is meaning and life behind it. And that didn’t happen by itself.
Dan: Another fallacy is that branding isn’t that important for B2B organizations. It’s becoming more evident, however, that B2B organizations need branding, marketing, public relations and advertising as much as B2C companies. It’s all about awareness. Once a brand identity is established, then it becomes about reputation.
What value does it offer?
Chad: Branding gives a business life. If you have a company, but nobody knows who you are, then you don’t really have a brand. It’s all about what you put into it and what you put behind the mark.
Dan: It gives a company its identity. I like to ask people, “When was the last time you bought a car you’d never heard of?”
How do you maintain and manage your brand?
Dan: It’s the organization’s (and the agency’s) responsibility to maintain the brand. You have to protect your brand like you would tangible property. You maintain it by putting the marketing efforts behind it that are necessary for growth. If you put the McDonald’s golden arches in front of anybody in the world, they will know it’s McDonald’s.
Chad: Knowing your audience and how to speak to them is key. Every brand has to evolve and change as the audience changes. The best brands in the world know how to evolve with the audience because generations change. And, this goes for every kind of brand – not just consumer brands. The same goes for a mom-and-pop shop down the street, the law firm, the bank or an energy company.
What brand do you admire, and why?
Dan: My favorite brand is Apple. Apple is an innovation company – always pushing the boundaries and always coming up with “The Next Big Thing.” The company has literally transformed industries across the globe. The big question pertaining to Apple is this – How many households have an Apple product, or better yet, how many households do not?
Chad: I really like what Elon Musk is doing with Tesla. I see them more as a technology company than a car company. Much like Apple, they are innovators doing things that have never been done before. They are game changers. There were electric cars before, but not like the Tesla. Being able to harness, store and use your own energy without relying on traditional utility companies is truly revolutionary. I think we are at the very beginning of the Tesla story, which is exciting to me. I can’t wait to see what they do next.
This post was written by Madison Hedrick, Saxum Grad Fellow