The Art of Branding


By Stuart Hartley @anglestuart

I’ve written before about some of the pitfalls that some organisations have fallen into with their brand building activity.  This time we look at things specifically from the small business perspective and the art of building a good strong brand.

So what is a brand?  Let’s start with what it’s not.

It’s not:

  • A trade mark
  • Just a logo
  • A mission statement

Is it:

  • The personification of an organisation, product or service?
  • The source of a promise to a customer or a trust mark?
  • The main source of emotional connections with customers?
  • Something that drives the design of the “total customer experience”?


A brand is the difference between a bottle of soft drink and a Coca Cola. A brand is the difference between a coffee and a Starbucks.  A brand is the difference between an MP3 player and an iPod.

Ipod vs mp3

Branding is the art and science of identifying and fulfilling human physical and emotional needs by capturing their attention, imagination and emotion.  Traditional thinking about branding was to bestow a product or service with unique characteristics through the creative use of name, slogan, packaging and advertising.  Think about the brands that you know this is the case for most of them.  However most modern brands are now trying to rise above the muddled world of images and messages and be remembered and noticed.

So how do we do it?

  1. What are the long term goals of the organisation?  A meaningful brand strategy cannot be created without a solid business strategy
  2. Who are the key people we need to ask?  Consider the thoughts of consumers, potential customers, partners, staff and a whole host of other interested stakeholders.  Even multinational organisations have failed here.  Think about New Coke introduced in 1985 with little market research. There was even McDonald’s with McSoup!
  3. Develop a brand promise.  This is the promise to achieve results, act in a certain way, deliver a certain experience.  Basically this is the personification of your business, product or service.  M&S are a good recent example with their ethical and environmental Plan A.  Think also about the personality associated with Rolls Royce or Volkswagen.  Instantly you get an image or impression about the cars they sell.
    1. Think here about how you want to be perceived, what you represent.
    2. What makes you unique?
    3. What are the strengths of the business, product or service?

These will all form your brand personality.


On top of these 3 points consider:

  • Quality – it is very difficult to market a car that breaks down or a computer that overheats!
  • Positioning – creating a unique “position” in the market relies heavily on a blend of choosing your target market and establishing a clear differential advantage to your customers
    • Consider here brands like Carlsberg and Heineken who have created a strong brand heritage), Volkswagen who have strong brand values and Intel who have strong  brand assets
    • Repositioning – as the market changes opportunities may arise in different areas.  Use Lucozade as an example.  From a drink with medicinal benefits to a leading sports drink.
    • Well blended communications – consistence of approach in visual image, descriptive text, staff behaviour etc.  Carlsberg is a good example of consistency.  Look at all of their imagery and text and how consistent it is.
    • Long term perspective – brands need to adapt, modernise, keep up with the times.  Be elastic and flexible whilst keeping an eye on consistency.



One thought on “The Art of Branding

  1. Pingback: Brand Positivity Is Active » Positive Sparks

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