Photo by Kampus Production
You’ve probably heard the word “branding” thrown around millions of times with millions of definitions. Many definitions can mislead you into thinking of branding as a logo, color palettes, tone of voice, designs, and more.
It’s misleading because branding is not any of those things. These are only tools of branding. Branding itself is a philosophy. It’s a concept, an idea, and something that the minds of your customers conceive.
But before we dive into what “branding” is, we should first understand what a “brand” is.
Legendary brand builder and author of “The Brand Gap,” Marty Neumeier, defines a brand as “a customer’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company.”
This means your brand is defined by people’s perceptions and is based on their experiences with your brand. While your brand is one thing to one person, it could be entirely different for another. And neither person is wrong.
The McDonald’s brand is known by many as the fast-food chain with the best options for value.
And it’s also known by many as the chain whose ice cream machine is always broken. There’s even a live-updated website dedicated to telling you if the machine at your local Mickey D’s is working today or not.
Your brand is your reputation with your audience, and a reputation of high-quality dishes, punctuality, and excellent customer service are just a few of the things your catering brand should want to be known for.
Photo by Antenna
Branding is the process you take to shape your brand in the eyes of your customers to make your brand easily recognizable, give your customers a consistent experience, and give them a reason to prefer your brand over the competition.
A brand is never what you say it is. It is always going to be what a customer says it is.
Branding is what is done to help influence a customer’s feelings about your brand.
Branding can happen with or without your efforts, though.
Photo by camilo jimenez
Anytime someone hears about an experience with your service from a friend or family member, that’s branding. When a former employee talks about what it was like working with you, that’s branding. Wherever there is publicity about your brand, that’s branding.
So even if you do nothing to make it happen, branding happens. You can leave it up to chance and hope enough people get a good feeling about your brand.
But leaving your branding up to chance is not a wise business decision.
There are quite a few tools at your disposal to take more control over what people feel about your brand. They involve the strategy, values, promises, processes, creative expression, and customer experiences you execute to affect a customer’s feelings about your brand.
Brand strategy is the part of your business plan that determines how you distinguish yourself from your competition. It will build how you identify and interact with your customers. The framework for how you connect to your current customers as well as how you will connect with future customers is found in your brand strategy.
Your brand’s values are the core beliefs that your brand stands for and are where customers find alignment with brands they trust. These values are solidified in your mission and vision statements to help guide business decisions. 46% of U.S. consumers say they would pay more to buy from trusted companies. Any communications given and actions taken by the brand should reflect the values.
The brand promise is the commitment you make to your customers that defines your brand and who you serve. It is most commonly communicated through taglines and guarantees. But being carried out through every action of everyone in the company is how the promise is kept.
Creating and recording your processes will help standardize your brand’s way of doing things. Having a system in place will help you stay organized, help your staff avoid confusion, and help you maintain your brand promise. Consider it like writing your recipes for dishes to be recreated the same way every time by anyone. When you treat your operations and customer experiences the same way, you will create a consistent experience.
The creative expressions done through visuals and audio are the most popular tools in branding. That’s because these are the “frontlines” of branding that include logos, colors, packaging, advertisement, music, voices, and other communications that people experience in public. They also help to avoid confusion when comparing to other brands. These expressions are what people often think of as the entirety of “branding,” but they are definitely only a portion.
Customer experience (CX) is arguably the most impactful tool in branding. It utilizes all of the other branding tools and develops how these tools are delivered to your customer. Customer experience establishes the customer’s journey with your brand from start to finish. This is most impactful because this is where the brand and the customer come together. This is where the customer’s gut feeling is affected.
In the words of poet and author Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
When done right, branding helps to control how people see you.
When done consistently, it helps you protect your brand by never compromising your efforts... Ever.
Are you struggling with developing your brand’s story to connect with a faithful audience and keep your business growing? Book a complimentary brand consult with Cater Verse today to Deliver Your Truth, Deliver More Food™ and control your narrative.