Ask ten different people what a brand is and you could end up with ten different answers. When you’re reading an article, that’s useful perspective. When you’re trying to rally your team around a new branding project, it’s a significant challenge.
Working with businesses of every shape and size, we’ve seen it all. Some people understand how a brand substantially increases the value of a business, whether you’re communicating with customers or colleagues and investors.
And, of course, some people just can’t see why branding is important. They see it as an unnecessary expense and a project to begrudgingly agree with – not something that can truly deliver value and make their lives easier.
Whether you’re trying to get the entire business on board or wondering why a brand is more than your logo and artistic direction, we can help.
And it all starts with a simple question: what do we really mean when we talk about a brand?
Your brand is something you influence, not control
There are many things are strong brand can’t do for you. Brands don’t market your business, or recruit, or sell. They simply exist in the minds of the people that matter – whether that’s customers, investors or colleagues.
Your brand is made up of the attributes people associate with your business. It’s defined by your audiences, not by you.
Hermes, the delivery people, understand this intimately. After years of parcels in wheelie bins, under cars, and tossed into bushes, the Hermes brand was associated with sloppy service and cut corners. Nobody at the top of Hermes thought they would build a brand based on bad service. But public perception had decided what the brand was all about – and that was a real obstacle to overall business strategy and future success. Now named Evri, Hermes took the huge step of resetting their brand entirely – and, with it, resetting their reputation.
No shiny logo and visual style can trick people into seeing your brand in a radically new way. But the right brand can influence people – providing it’s paired with the right behaviours.
Behaviour is a key part of branding
The world’s most successful brands understand that behaviour is key. Your brand needs to be an authentic reflection of how you do business, creating positive associations that feel true.
That’s why traditionally B2B companies face a strong challenge moving into B2C. The associations just aren’t there. And it’s why brands like IBM wouldn’t open a fast-food joint – it’s a behaviour that would undermine the credibility that people have come to expect.
Getting brand right – and balancing behaviour with visual style, positioning and messaging – unlock maximum flexibility in market share and margin. Apple’s 8% market share gives them 60% of the market’s profits – that’s branding at its best.
Great brands grow market share
Growing market share is vitally important for businesses of any size. Spotify is just one example of an established brand that doesn’t generate profit – but continues to expand in the market. It’s that growth that secures investment and attention. The profit can come later.
This appetite for market share is also visible in much more established brands. For years, Coca Cola and Pepsi have been battling for market share – and using branding to make it happen. We all understand the relationship between Coca Cola and Christmas. And we’ve seen Pepsi associate itself with music thanks to all-star advert cameos. It’s these associations that influence market share. And every incremental growth translates to huge revenue. In the case of Coca Cola, its market cap without brand value is $50 billion. With brand value added? A whopping $120 billion. Whatever the size of your business, brand value matters. The $120 billion market cap might be a way off, but smart branding can help any business take the next step in their growth.
Branding in the third sector
At Frost Creative, we also do a lot of work with charities. While they don’t face the same commercial aims as a Coca Cola, the ethos of branding is the same: a powerful way to command market share and foster the right associations with your audiences.
One recent brand project was the work we did for Southampton Hospitals Charity – a new, more cohesive way to help people understand their work and, crucially, form closer connections on a personal level.
Significantly, branding is an effective, lasting way for charities to make the most of every opportunity, helping their investment go further and driving donations.
Maximising the impact of your brand
When people see logos as branding, they miss the real potential. Branding is about more than consistency – it’s about elevating what you do in a way that impacts value and, ultimately, your bottom line. For us, great brands come from a place of real purpose. It’s all about unpicking what you do, why you do it, and what you need to achieve. With a strategic approach, it’s possible to build a brand that serves as a foundation for the long-term – not a quick-win campaign, but the core of your business for years to come.
Brands can also become useful benchmarks for behaviour and decision making. When you understand your brand – and the expectations people have of your business – you can make more informed decisions about how you expand, sell and grow. But that’s only possible when everyone buys into the same big idea. And that’s why helping everyone understand the value a brand delivers is so important.
Successful branding builds measurable value
Every brand you can think of started small. Household names only become household names when businesses invest and reinvest into their brands over time. A brand isn’t a marketing tool – but only because it’s more than that. It’s the central pillar that will hold up all your marketing, whatever that looks like. Defining your brand properly now is a way to increase the impact and value of every marketing effort in the future.
Back in 2014, we rebranded Corrigenda. Since then, we’ve worked closely with the team to shift the brand positioning, responding to new priorities, challenges and opportunities. It’s an evolutionary thing – and this approach has resulted in 25% YOY growth. Whether you’re launching your start-up, rethinking your strategy, or trying to change perceptions, the right brand can help. Brand strategy and business strategy are intertwined – and the success of your brand is the ultimate fuel for the success of your business.