A brand is a culmination of a business and all the effort it puts into reaching out to its customers to position itself in their minds over a period of time. A ‘brand’ is always a result of systematic implementation of actions and processes and is not an institution by itself.
‘Branding’ as we know it today is derived from the act of branding cattle to claim ownership. It includes multiple actions such as coming up with a business idea, creating a product/service, understanding who and why the ‘who’ would need it, creating communication to reach out to them to influence their purchasing decisions and constantly innovating to stay relevant.
To achieve all the objectives of branding in the most efficient manner, a comprehensive process called the ‘Branding Strategy’ is concocted and implemented. This process goes from an unaware business/customer to a loyal one, as stated in the study conducted by branding expert, Marty Neumeier.
Stages involved in the branding strategy journey are:
Unaware – Aware – Comprehend – Consider – Purchase – Loyal.
At first, we are ‘Unaware’ of our needs/preferences which is we identify those through experiences and become ‘Aware’. Then, we ‘Comprehend’ the availability of resources and their features to satisfy those needs followed by ‘Consideration’ of the multitude of resources that are available. We then move on to the ‘Purchase’ of the selected source and make a final decision after contemplating. Being ‘Loyal’ means that we use the company’s products for a prolonged period of time due to the image built in our minds with regards to that product/service which correlates with that company which can now be called a ‘Brand’.
It was observed that as individuals, we are all familiar with this process, but for other reasons; when we try to brand ourselves.
The stages of a branding strategy can be better understood through an exercise as done by one of our copywriters with the topic of ‘finding a suitable companion’.
Disclaimer: the following example is purely fictional and is not meant to intentionally or unintentionally provoke or hurt anybody
It begins with the realisation of the need for companionship (can be equated to a business idea). If I am the business here, the first step is to understand who I would need and who would need me. Based on criteria like sexual orientation, religion, caste, height, weight and a number of other parameters, I would begin by identifying my ‘target audience’. And then, my research would begin by widening my horizon, such a signing up on dating apps, having an active social life and being open minded to suggestions by others.
Once I know what I am looking for in a person, my target audience is defined and my search is narrowed down. I will fix upon a specific person who probably matches most of the criteria I had in mind or (surprise!) has something to offer that I did not even know I was looking for. After this, I try and find similar interests or things that would make us compatible.
On Tinder, I would say I would try and strike a conversation based on the listed interests on their profile. (In branding, I suppose this is the creative communication we talk about to reach out to the people we have identified as the target audience.) (I would call this the wooing phase.)
Once we begin to get to know each other and understand each other’s pros and cons, we try to actively see how suitable we are for each other. We analyse each other to make sure that all the time and effort is being used on the right person.
This is where we would decide if we should go ahead with the whole dating thing or let it go to start afresh.
It is a successful purchase if all that effort that went into wooing the person translates into dating and giving it a shot.
And if you’re as good as you claimed to be on that profile, before you know it, you are an important part of their life! They will spot you in some random super market and stop to say hi (recognition). They will text you cheesy stuff even when they are hanging out with others (recall). You will become a part of the lives of everybody that is important to them (influence, word of mouth). Sure, they would check out a random hottie from time to time, but you are irreplaceable for that one weird quirk! (USP much?)
Once this is achieved, the objective would change and the process begins all over again. That is how you ‘innovate’ to retain the loyalty.
And that is precisely how a business becomes a brand through the stages of a branding strategy.