Many startup companies believe that small-sized businesses do not require branding. But it is a fact that in today’s world, you cannot survive without branding. This raises an interesting question as to what exactly is a brand and what are companies to do who do not have the required capital to establish a brand? There are diverse opinions on what constitutes a brand but there are certain things upon which everyone agrees on and those are what is not a brand. Thus a brand is:
Not just a tagline
Brands have taglines associated with them. For instance Nike says “just do it” or Johnny Walker says “keep walking”. The tagline becomes an intrinsic part of the brand it belongs to and it helps people to associate the particular brand with the tagline. But a brand cannot be hemmed in by a tagline. It goes much beyond that.
The brand creates pricing power
A brand helps create loyalty amongst its customers. It caters to the customer’s need to ascend Maslow’s Pyramid which represents the hierarchy of needs. For instance a cheap pen that costs Rs 5 will satisfy your basic need for writing but a loyal fan of MontBlanc would still buy the pen for Rs 10,000. According to Maslow’s pyramid, buying a Montblanc satisfies one need of self-esteem. Thus we see that although the job of a pen is to write, the brand shifts focus from writing as a primary need to one that panders to our self-esteem allowing for pricing power.
Not just a name or a logo
Everyone knows a brand by its logo. That is the sure shot way to identify a real product from a fake one. Therefore, brands go a long way in protecting their intrinsic worth by various trademarks and copyright laws. But a brand is much more than its logo. It goes well beyond that. We can in fact consider the logo as one’s postal address while the brand would represent the person staying at that address.
There is no substitute for the brand
A brand exists in our mind. Most of the properties of a brand are intangible in nature, engaging the consumer at an emotional level. A brand signifies self-esteem, trust and style. A brand’s main motive is to shift attention from the product towards itself. It thus succeeds in convincing the customer that there is no alternative to it. For example, consider two soap brands – Dettol and Liril. While Dettol as a brand represents hygiene, Liril, on the other hand denotes freshness. A customer looking for a soap that promotes freshness would buy Liril instead of Dettol. Thus we see that Liril has substituted the function of soaps, which is bathing to freshness.
A brand helps create its own community of loyal customers whose devotion for the product goes way beyond its purpose. Brands by using subliminal messages and semiotics penetrate our subconscious and establish their space in our minds which becomes difficult to overthrow.