What’s the difference between a brand and a business? Answer this question and you’ll unlock the core distinction between successful advertising and the one-trick wonder; or the outsider content to pick up customers wherever and however it can. A business is just a company that sells stuff. A brand is a virtual person; a personality; a set of values enshrined in the products and services it creates.
We’ve all heard people talking about “the marketplace” or the “target market”. These are concepts with a central relevance for branding.
Target Potential Consumer:
A target market is a group of potential consumers who are perceived to have interests, passions or lifestyles that make them ideal candidates for wanting the kind of product or service a company produces. The act of branding turns that company, and its products, into a personality that actively engenders a feeling of connection between the target market and the item for sale, using those identified passions and lifestyles as a basis.
It’s good to find a real world example when considering branding. So think about a family car, indistinguishable from any other family car except that its design and its advertising keep talking about skiing, or surfing, or snowboarding, or getting into adventurous situations in the great outdoors.
Who is the car branded for? Not for the kids, who could care less what car their parents drive. Nor yet for the actual adventure sports junkie, who is extremely unlikely to have the kind of settled family lifestyle that requires him or her to have a sensible saloon. No, the car in question is pitched for parents who want to feel as though they are plugged into a lifestyle they’re not necessarily a part of: people who work in cities and live in towns, but who wear the gear and still dream of the adventure.
In modern marketplace terms, the reason for this branding is simple enough. There are lots of family saloons out there, so simply selling sensible family cars is only an option if you’re aiming at the market segment which only cares about the sensible features of the vehicle.
Importance of Branding & Brand Design:
Branding recognises, in other words, that within a larger marketplace there are always denominations. Some family car buyers want to feel adventurous. Some want to feel safe. Some want to feel fun. The branding associated both with the manufacturer as a whole, and the vehicle in particular, influences the final buying decision of the people with their hands on the purse strings.
A brand, of course, is designed. It’s a carefully contrived set of signs, colours and symbols, which make up a recognisable personality – a world in which specific kinds of people live, and the person who’s going to introduce the prospective customer to its exciting (or sensible) fellow-denizens.
Brands essentially invent tribes and position the company and its products as the leaders of those tribes; or as the facilitators of the activities enjoyed by its members. This is chosen depending on the specific nature of the relationship between the company, the product and the researched requirements of its marketplace.