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What does the word “branding” mean to you and your business? Does it apply to your marketing or sales strategy? But if the intention of marketing is to sell, and the intention of selling is to generate revenue for your business, then what truly is the intention of branding?
Traditionally, when businesses talk about branding, they are referring to the perception of their company from the eyes of the customer or consumer or the feeling the consumer has when experiencing their company. But does that external perception of the company truly mirror the identity that your business is looking to establish for itself?
In truth, the brand of any company should be illustrated by answering the following three questions:
- Who is your business trying to help?
- What is the biggest problem or challenge that those people have?
- How is your business helping those people to solve that problem uniquely?
By answering these fundamental questions, we can unequivocally say that if the intention of marketing is to sell, and the intention of selling is to generate revenue, then the intention of branding is to make sure that your business is selling the right product or service to the right people at the right time in the right way because the connection that branding is making between the company and the consumer is clear.
For instance, as branding expert Kait LaDonne noted, if your business sells shoes for basketball players in the NBA, you wouldn’t want to try and sell those same shoes to female C-Suite executives in Europe. So, the goal here is that you want to make sure that your business remains focused on attracting and selling to your target market of basketball players and fans of the game by creating an emotional connection between the product, the player, and the fan. This is where branding comes into play – the cultivation of that emotional connection in the consumer’s eyes is how branding represents the value proposition of your business. Duly, your brand identity should be created based on who your business is trying to serve, as well as why and how it serves them.
This is where we bring in the concept of your business’ vision (for the future) and mission (the present plan to accomplish the vision). Therefore, your business’ mission statement is integral, and oftentimes, businesses settle on a brand identity and begin marketing themselves to target customers without considering the bigger picture (brand vision) and how to get there (brand mission). One thing to note is that people and their problems change as life happens and evolves, so your brand identity (i.e., the aspects used to create emotional connection (logo, colors, fonts, language, etc.), need to bear this mind, so that the marketing process your business utilizes to create its brand identity, doesn’t miss the mark and the whole process start to break down.
To prevent your business’s brand identity from breaking down, one recommendation I tend to offer my clients is to go back and revisit their company’s mission statement once a year. Does the mission statement still align with the company’s core values and vision, and does the company’s current brand identity represent this clearly? In cases where it no longer does, the business needs to initiate change to re-establish its emotional connection with the consumer, remembering that this is the key to brand strategy outcome.
Every brand that has successfully catapulted itself to “celebrity” status as a leader in its field has done so because they were not only able to adapt to the changes made by their target market of consumers – they saw this success because they were able to marry together their company’s vision with an appropriate mission and client-facing identity. So what’s the point of this? To ensure that the company can continue to answer the three aforementioned questions to ensure that their purpose for wanting to help consumers solve a key problem is still valid.
For example, take Airbnb. Their company’s mission statement is, “Airbnb aspires to create a diverse and inclusive global community…” which lays the foundation for their company vision of “…where people can feel at home wherever they are.” Though the company originally was founded as a cost-effective solution to expensive four and five-star hotel stays, Airbnb’s mission encapsulates their target market (travelers) looking to solve a problem (access to safe and affordable shelter whilst traveling), which has helped it create a brand identity of a company that helps anyone, wherever they are, feel at home.
Other companies that have seen this kind of success (e.g., Apple, Coca-Cola, Google, and Tesla) have also been able to successfully couple their mission with their brand identity. Establishing their corporate values and offering those values transparently to their target market has allowed those companies and others like them to quickly establish an emotional connection with the consumer, which keeps their company and its values at the forefront of the minds of consumers.
A winning mission statement is a great foundation for any company to start with, which serves as the connector between the vision and identity of the company. Focusing on ensuring that this is in place will guarantee that the emotional connection that you’re creating with your ideal client is consistently successful in creating brand loyalty, equity, and legacy.