8 Roles That Branding
Plays in Your Marketing
By Mark Combs
Branding is a great nebulous word that acts as a catch-all for anything companies do to identify products in a customer’s mind. Branding is seldom understood and often overlooked in the cubicle fields of sales and marketing. Branding is actually a big part of the marketing recipe and I wanted to call your attention to a few roles that branding plays.

1) Logo Consistency
Many think branding equals your logo. True and not true. It is true that your brand’s foundation is your logo. Part of your branding mission is to maintain a consistent look with every use of your logo, your publications, your advertising and sales tools. Ensuring the same type, color, spacing, scaling and contrast for your logo is just the beginning of your branding. There is so much more.

2) Message Consistency
Your branding is also about conveying the same message to your customers. If your marketing conversations are all over the map there is no consistency and I would bet that your customers haven’t received any of your messages. By broadcasting several different messages at the same time you will end up not saying anything. Customers like to receive the same message a minimum of 4 times before they decide to buy. So if you hit them with seven messages, they might hear you but they won’t listen.

3) Experience Consistency
Have you ever been to a restaurant and enjoyed the experience so much that you wanted to go back? To your delight you find out that they have another franchise only 5 miles from your home. When you walk in, it is like the exact same restaurant, exact same great food, same friendly staff, same value for your money. It was like duplicating the first experience, but closer. That is part of branding. Branding isn’t just the logo or the look of a company, it is the overall experience of your company that gives your customer their opinion of you. 

4) Consistent Quality 
Grey Poupon had an image of high quality due to their portrayal of two English gentlemen being chauffeured in Rolls Royce limos passing the Dijon mustard thru the window. They were fairly successful with that campaign because we still say, “Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?” But the implication was that this mustard was of the highest quality, capturing the gourmet mustard market. Was it better than any other mustard? I don’t know, but with that branding they couldn’t have gone to a ball park type mustard message. It would have belied their earlier branding, making their product appear cheaper. They couldn’t then expect people to pay more for higher quality mustard.

5) Image Consistency
Without some common thread running throughout everything our customers see, how will they know where to take the desired action? Without consistent images that support your message, how will they identify this message with you? I am not saying use the same photograph or graphic for every ad you run. I am encouraging the same look and feel inherent in what you publish. You wouldn’t see gingham and a tea set used in a monster truck rally ad, now would you? Probably because they have an image consistency that appeals to their perfect customer, and that doesn’t look like High Tea.

6) Consistent Payoff
Take a look at McDonald’s marketing. It is very primary, very playful, fun and glossy. Now imagine you have never been to McDonald’s and decide to go. When you walk in this burger joint is dark and smoky, with rough cedar shingles on the walls with horse shoes, saddles, and a pair of longhorns mounted proudly. Your first thought would be, “Am I in the right place?” The answer is no. What the advertising sold you was not a steak house. You might stay and eat but chances are you wouldn’t return because in the back of your mind, you wouldn’t trust them after they lied to you. We must make offers that are consistent with the payoff our customers get or they will not be our customers long.

7) Consistent Taglines
Pop Quiz! Are you ready? Name the companies these tag lines belong to: “melts in your mouth, not in your hands” “Just Do It” “Can you hear me now? Good” “I’m Loving it” “Have it your way” Did you get them all. I bet you did. Why is that, do you think? Did those companies do a good job of establishing their message in our minds? You betcha. Tag lines are a big part of branding. A good tagline can plant seeds into our customers that will stay with them their entire lives. One of the best tag lines, in my opinion, was “You deserve a break today.” We still know the jingle for that  company. I’m thinking it’s running thru your head right now. Those tag lines establish a beachhead for all other branding messages to follow. Branding is controlling how your customers think about you.

8) Response Consistency
Why do large corporations go to all the trouble of same logo, same message, same experience? They want the same response from you. They are trying to give you every  reason to do business with them. They want that response, and so do you. You want to do every thing you can to give each customer what they need to give up their earnings in trade for what you offer. Companies work decades to decipher the formula of that response, its what branding is all about.

If we control how our customers think about us through branding, we can give them a better product experience and they will share that experience with their friends. Branding is another way for you to steer your perfect customer into becoming a repeat customer. So don’t discount how useful it can be.