What is a brand? Is it a name? A logo? If you examine popular brands that are top-of-mind in their respective categories – you’ll soon realize that it’s not just a fancy name or logo. Building a truly successful brand requires several pieces coming together to define an overall perception. You can think of your message as the interplay between:
- Brand elements
- Brand essence
- Brand awareness
- Brand experience
A brand can be characterized by different elements, some inherently obvious, and others less so. While your name and your logo are the most recognizable, the more depth you add to your brand through the use of various elements, the more indelible it becomes in the minds of your customers. Some basic elements of a brand include:
- Name — the word or words used to identify your company, service, product or concept
- Logo — a visual trademark used to identify your brand
- Graphics — the artwork and shapes that are part of your logo and advertising
- Catchphrase — slogan or tagline associated with your brand
- Colors – color scheme used in advertising, promotional material and store décor
- Sounds — a jingle, or sound effects associated with your brand
- Flavors — a trademarked recipe, special sauce, et cetera
All of these elements add up to create an overall image or personality that defines your brand. It can be strong, reassuring, whimsical, romantic, reliable, insightful, high-tech, nostalgic, or any other descriptor you feel best defines your company, product or service.
The Brand Essence
The brand essence is considered the psychological aspect of your brand, and consists of thoughts, feelings, images, beliefs and attitudes that become linked to your brand, through all interactions. The strongest brands own one or two words or concepts in their space. Consider how Volvo is associated with safety, Nike is about self-actualization and Coca-Cola’s is owning the idea of happiness through branding efforts like “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” commercials and images of smiling people, holding hands and singing. A brand essence is carefully cultivated through strategic marketing campaigns designed to associate the brand with a desired psychological outcome.
The ability of a customer to recall and recognize your brand, logo, and advertisements is your brand awareness. And its importance lies in the fact that it makes your franchise more relevant and thus – more valuable. It can be broken down into different levels:
- Top-of-mind – the name that pops into a consumer’s head when asked about a specific category (case in point Band-Aids, is a single brand that has dominated the adhesive bandage category)
- Aided awareness — a consumer recognizes a brand name from a list provided to him or her
- Strategic awareness — when a brand is not only top-of-mind, but perceived to be better than other brands due to some unique selling point (Apple products are growing in popularity and are also perceived to be of higher quality)
The Brand Experience
While the brand image can be controlled through marketing, the brand experience is a little more difficult to manage. Made up of the sum of all points of contact with the brand, the brand experience includes the brand image, the brand awareness, and physical experience with the service or product. A successful franchisor develops and enforces a carefully outlined set of guidelines to ensure that all locations deliver a consistent customer experience every time, whether you are getting a sandwich from Subway in Phoenix, Arizona, or Tupelo, Mississippi.