Branding: More than just a trademark

Natascha Tsalas Legal | Senior Manager | Head of Intellectual Property, PwC Switzerland 07 Jan 2019

Regardless of any political viewpoint, no person makes news faster than the billionaire and serving US president, Donald Trump. His talent in brand building is undisputable and in his words,

If your business is not a brand, it is a commodity

Donald Trump

It is true that effective branding has the power to take your business to another level. Given the tremendous importance of branding, let us walk you through some basic details related to it.

What is branding?

Branding is about your business vision. It is about creativity, concept, trademark logo or tagline, marketing, business success and profitability. Branding is about all this and so much more.

To put it simply, branding is essentially a strategy of building an image for your business, which is immediately identifiable and recognizable in the marketplace. Branding gives personality to your business.

One should not confuse between a corporate branding and product branding. Corporate branding creates a brand identity for the company and helps build reputation of the company.  Product branding focuses on individual product or service offered by the company and connects it to the customer. A successful brand can be built through either corporate branding or product branding or combination of both.

Why is branding important?

Branding is important for businesses of all sizes, large conglomerates or start-up ventures, retail or B2B enterprises, family run businesses or SMEs. A long term and sustainable branding can create many benefits:

  • It creates visibility for the business. Right branding promotes recognition and can help your business stand out from the competition. 
  • It enhances the value of the company and/or its products and services. Proper branding strategy creates strong brand equity that allows you to charge more for your brand than what identical, unbranded products command.
  • It helps to align the business with the company’s core values. Branding and marketing go hand in hand and your brand concept should guide the marketing strategy and thereby keep it aligned to the core business objectives. This is important to maintain consistency and foster trust in your business.
  • It gives the business a competitive edge in the market. Strategic branding through the digital platform helps you expand your branding and connect to your audience through multiple channels. You can connect to a community of people, generate huge social following and make your brand resonate with your target customers.
  • It helps build investor relations. Brand image plays an important role in proactively communicating the company business model and corporate image and thereby attract investors and funding. A compelling and creative brand image creates investor confidence in your company and products.

How to design a brand identity?

Creating a successful brand strategy is an intricate process where details matter. Before you begin the branding process, look inward. The foundation of your brand should be built on the values of your company and it is important to incorporate them in the image of your business that you will project to the market. Further, before beginning any kind of project it is important to carefully outline it. Thus, putting together a well-defined brand concept is very important. The brand concept will not only encompass innovative ideas to set apart your business from those of your competitors, but should also mesh with your business vision and values. Having a brand concept in place helps to maintain consistency as you go along and you do not lose sight of your company’s values. Consistent branding helps to fosters trust in the customers.

It is not enough to define your brand concept. Once you have identified the concept, you must also know how to implement it. You need a strategy and the important points that should be kept in mind are:

  • The company or product vision i.e. how do you want to position yourself in the market. You should think of the future and ask yourself where you want to be.
  • Determining the target audience. An important factor of a successful branding is to identify and understand the target/relevant audience. It is crucial to do a thorough market research in order to learn the needs, habits and desires of your current and prospective customers. For this, you should use market surveys, interviews and focus groups analysis.
  • Giving your brand a unique identity. For an effective branding it is important to set your brand apart from those of your competitors. You have to think of innovative and creative ways to make your business stand out and more attractive to customers. For this, it is important to do your research on the number and kind of competitors in the market and their business and product strategies.
  • The tools needed to build the brand. It is important to choose these tools carefully and strategize its use, as these tools connect your business to the customers. There are several tools, which help in building an effective brand - technical platforms, marketing policy, advertising and public relations campaign, social media and most importantly brand imagery. The technological innovations in the digital space has created various ways of building connections with your customers.

    An exciting and crucial step in the branding process is the creation of the brand imagery, which includes your logo, corporate colours, slogans, taglines and twitter header etc. Remember that branding is only as effective as the imagery that visualizes it. Your brand image will form the backbone of your branding strategy, as this will be the most tangible part of your branding i.e. the visual perception of your business in the minds of the customers.

    It is important to think creatively when selecting your trademark and make sure that the image you select are not already protected. Here your collaboration with your creative team is crucial. In addition, it is important to conduct availability searches for domain name and searches in trademark and company registers. It is equally important to protect your brand imagery from dilution. For this, you should be proactive in defending your brand image from infringement and simultaneously, ensure adequate quality control when commercializing your signs and trademarks through licensing, distribution and other commercial arrangements.
  • Branding is all about consistency. It is important to ensure that that different departments such as graphic designers, marketers, web developers, community managers, and even product packaging departments are cohesive and on the same page. This can be achieved by developing brand guidelines. This document will dictate how the different design elements such as topography, graphics, colours, materials, templates and photography used in the visual manifestation of the brand should be applied in different contexts. Brand guidelines can go into deeper detail to include things like company mission statement, cultural or behavioural directions for staff training etc.
  • Branding is a long-term process as it connects your business to customers for the entire life span of the company or product. It is important to plan it well - think - start - focus - and then take it to the next level. You have to constantly keep pushing your brand.
  • Quality branding is one that resonates with the customers. Branding has to be able to match the flow of customer expectations and market demands. Brand identity needs to be continuously assessed and re-evaluated to respond to changes in market forces by incorporating trends that are relevant to your company and product. The changing market forces can be opportunities to strengthen and expand your brand. 

Conclusion

Compelling and powerful banding helps build a successful business. Ultimately, what drives a brand are your company values, but what keeps the fire burning is the strategic balancing of such core values with the changing customer behavior and needs. Thus, your branding should convey your essence and be flexible enough to grow with you.

PwC has a team of experts to help you develop a strong branding for your company or product. Our experts are there to hold your hand right from the creation of the brand concept to building the brand identity and protect it from being diluted and constantly re-evaluating it with your evolving business needs. You will benefit from the joint expertise of PwC’s different line of services in developing a brand, which is innovative, garners trust from investors and customers and your strongest business asset. A brand is the soul of any business and therefore investing in quality branding is worth it.

Summary
  • Branding is essentially a strategy of building an image for your business.
  • Your brand image will form the backbone of your branding strategy.
  • A long term and sustainable branding can create many benefits.
  • Your branding should convey your essence and be flexible enough to grow with you.

 

Contact us

Natascha Tsalas

Natascha Tsalas

Legal | Senior Manager | Head of Intellectual Property, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 9832

Vintee Singh

Vintee Singh

Legal IP Counsel, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 9557