Whether or not you believe a corporation really is a person, the effect of successful branding efforts can, with some utility, be compared to the development of a personality. The development of a distinct and stable personality is a strategy for success in the social realm. People favor those who present stable, somewhat predictable, and constant personality traits. It puts them at ease, giving them a sense that they know how to relate or not relate to that person.
Now, imagine a situation where a circle of friends had a long history. Each member of this circle of friends is well known to each of the others and is distinct. Suppose then, that several members of this circle of friends began adopting a list of the most appealing personality traits of two or three of the most popular individuals. Certainly, imitation can be flattering- but this can go too far. It wouldn’t take long before this copy-cat behavior was frowned upon.
When it comes to branding, the consequences of branding strategy mimicking go far beyond mere social awkwardness. Unless your organization is as famous a The Walt Disney entertainment company- failure to protect your brand image can be devastating. Here, we will discuss the art of creating a brand image, what it requires, and why.
What is Branding?
According to the American Marketing Association, branding is defined as: “[The] name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”
In short, branding is the way your company looks to the public. Ideally, your branding should be the result of a concerted effort to appeal specifically to the type of people who are naturally attracted to your product or service. The way people relate to a company is very similar to the way they relate to other people. Certain people prefer certain styles of branding.
To put it simply, given the choice between two identical products marked at the same price, they will choose the brand who’s image appeals to them more. The best example is probably the ongoing branding war between Coke and Pepsi. These are two globally recognized, stratospherically popular soda products that- for all intents and purposes- taste almost identical. Pepsi is slightly sweeter, but the difference is nominal. When you go to a restaurant and ask for a Coke, if they only have Pepsi- you’re not going to storm out- unless you’re maniacally superficial.
Four Key Features of Pitch-Perfect Branding
Branding integrity is the condition where your brand identity is unique, well known, personable, and credible.
If your branding presence is not unique, it’s not the end of the world- after all- other companies in your industry would be expected to have a similar disposition. Still, you don’t want to look like a carbon copy of the competition. Ideally, your branding profile should differentiate you to such a degree and in such a way that it communicates your particular value proposition- what buyers can’t get anywhere else.
The need to be well known is the problem that adverting is meant to answer. But with branding, the issue is a little more related to reputation- which is linked to your unique value proposition. Your uniqueness is your character- and that is what you want to communicate. This is why we run advertising campaigns that are far-reaching and consistent in tone, style, timing, and content.
Now, we come to personality. It’s easy to understand why big companies have mascots, like the Pep Boys mechanics, the Geico gecko, Ronald McDonald, and so on. The idea is to create an uncomplicated personality that represents your business. The image could be affable, serious, funny, or what have you- but it should never be unapproachable- or ridiculous. You’re walking a fine line when you create a mascot for your company. Humor is great, but the wrong kind might be bad for your business. This is why big corporations use focus groups. Small and medium-sized businesses will probably just have to go with their instincts.
Finally, comes credibility. You’ve heard the expression, “dress for the job you want.” That’s exactly what we’re talking about when it comes to your company’s image and reputation. Branding is all about leveraging high-level communication techniques to convey personality and competence to a specific demographic. An important part of this messaging should be that your organization is competent. This should be obvious. You can bang on all day about your experience and qualifications, but if you don’t look like an auto mechanic- no one trust you with their BMW.
When all of these things are in place, what you get is magic. A well-composed branding campaign that brings these elements together in a way that motivates people to associate with your brand- and that’s the idea.
Localization & Global Branding
Finally, we should address the need to generate an effective branding presence for specific locations and across national borders. The challenge here is to create a consistent brand across borders which is adapted but still consistent with your brand identity.
For this, we use Termbase and Multilingual Styles Guides. These are tools you can use to help ensure that your messaging doesn’t get lost in translation. Otherwise, you could end up like the advertisers in the following examples.
Slogan: “Every car has a high quality body.”
Belgian Translation: “Every car contains a beautiful corpse.”
Slogan: “Turn it loose.”
Spanish Translation: “Suffer from diarrhea.”
Mistakes like these are not soon forgotten, but the most effective localization tends to go completely unnoticed. Boring as that is- that’s your goal. People should feel the same about your brand in India as they do in Wisconsin. To achieve this, carefully avoiding references to bodily discharge helps.
Most mistakes like the ones cited above are subtle. Rather then resulting in hilarious mistranslations, they simply make the message seem poorly written and badly edited. This makes a bad impression and is harder to spot. Our troubles begin when we assume that we can make a flawless translation by looking foreign words up on Google. Believe it when we tell you, Ford wishes they hadn’t made that assumption.
In the medical, pharmaceutical, and other precision-intensive industries, the consequences of bad translations can be dire indeed. That’s why we strongly recommend going with professional Localization & Global Branding tools like Termbase and Multilingual Styles Guides- and leaving translation to the professionals.
Okay, we’ve covered a lot of ground here and it’s time to land this plane. To do that, we’d like to refer you to an article entitled, “Five Ways to Protect Your Brand Across All Your Content.” You’ve learned what branding is, and how to put together an image that pops. But that’s not the hardest part. The hardest part is maintaining consistency and authority across multiple channels, spaces, and venues. Alright, so grab a coffee and we’ll see you there.