What Is Branding? The Rules Of Constructing An Effective Branding Strategy | Vietcetera
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What Is Branding? The Rules Of Constructing An Effective Branding Strategy

Branding | Source: Tam Pham for Vietcetera.

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Join us in meeting the leading experts in the field of branding to better understand its function as well as learning which factors to consider when building an effective branding strategy.

Dominic Mason — Managing Director, Sedgwick Richardson SEA

Dominic Mason — Managing Director, Sedgwick Richardson SEA. | Source: Sedgwick Richardson.

Branding is often misunderstood or bundled together with PR, Advertising and Marketing. How do you define it?

Understanding the interplay of these disciplines is indeed a good place to start. Branding is about building strategic differentiation that enhances the value of a company and sustains its success in the long term, while advertising and PR are more tactical in nature. They deliver the communication of that value proposition. Beyond communication, branding becomes the lens through which distinctive and consistent experiences are created and become valued by consumers. An even bigger opportunity lies in the ability of branding to create a culture: both within your organisation, including your marketing team, and a culture of demand among consumers who are willing to pay a premium for your brand.

How do you capture and understand market trends to build effective branding?

The more interesting trends are those dealing with shifts in people’s perceptions, preferences and behaviors. And these trends are increasingly captured in large data sets.

Source: Unsplash.

To help companies make sense of shifting patterns in behaviors, we will be seeing more sophisticated data visualisation techniques and tools applied to quantitative data. At the same time, there is still a strong case for qualitative, insight-driven research into decoding such behavioral changes, essentially understanding the meanings, beliefs and rituals in people’s lives. That’s how brands can separate real trends from passing fads and sustain their effectiveness.

What are the metrics that define a successful branding campaign?

Awareness, consideration, preference, loyalty and advocacy are the main performance areas against which branding campaigns can be measured. In other words, how many people know of, look for, trust, insist on and recommend your brand.

How has branding evolved, now that GenY and GenZ are gaining purchasing power?

A high degree of social consciousness shared by both these generations has introduced terms like ‘sustainability branding’ and ‘employer branding’ into our practice areas. Brands are called out for lacking commitment to making the world a better place by millennials and this will continue with Gen Z consumers. At the same time, social media has made brand language more prevalent. Not just what brands say in terms of messaging, but how they say it in terms of style and tonality. More investment is now made into brand language guidelines, for example.

Source: Shutterstock.

What advice can you give SMEs to help them build effective branding?

Firstly, it is important to think beyond logos. Yes, you need an identity to be recognized and to trademark as intellectual property. But think of what you’re creating and bringing to the world as a branded experience. An experience that is integrated across all the different touch-points of your business.

Secondly, remember that your brand will soon be inhabiting a digital-first world, so this is not about the application of your logo on your website any more, but about creating and controlling an integrated set of assets and experiences across both traditional and digital applications. 

Finally, look at how you can create a culture around your brand that connects the people you are paying (employees) with the people paying you (consumers, customers). This will sustain your business well into the future.

Minh H. Nguyen — Managing Director, Wisdom Agency & Mai Linh MediaCom

Minh H. Nguyen — Managing Director, Wisdom Agency & Mai Linh MediaCom. | Source: Minh H. Nguyen.

Branding is often misunderstood or bundled together with PR, Advertising and Marketing. How do you define it?

As a consultant, I often get the same question from HR or sales departments who struggle to fully grasp these concepts because they overlap. Originally, ‘branding’ referred to a heated metal shape pressed against livestock with the intention of leaving an identifying mark.

Now the term is applied to economic and business activities, and can be defined as activities that build up visual identities to help customers differentiate and choose between the many available products. Simply put, branding is the physical manifestation of your business. Its purpose, therefore, is to create an attractive appearance in order to win over customers. 

How do you capture and understand market trends to build effective branding?

By understanding your customer. A cliche, perhaps, but there is no way around it. You must always prioritize your customer needs when it comes to branding, marketing, advertising or public relations. Brands that are lacking a customer-centric foundation and are simply following trends lose their way very quickly and fall into the trap of “attractive and trendy but unoriginal”. 

Plastic surgery is a good example, as it creates a generation of beautiful people with similar features that were trending at that time. To summarize, seek to understand your customer first and go from there. Don’t just follow trends. 

Another point to keep in mind is budgeting. If your cash flow is negative, then a full-scale rebranding exercise or a new branding strategy are not advisable, because it’s a long-term investment. There is no quick revenue boost in it.

For businesses that are struggling financially, I recommend making slight adjustments to your brand ID or changing your communication strategy to make the brand appear more attractive. You can worry about the aesthetics later. 

Source: Shutterstock.

What are the metrics that define a successful branding campaign?

Because branding is a long-term mindset, measuring its immediate effectiveness is difficult: maybe a slight performance boost, a more coherent communication strategy or a temporary spike in sales. It’s only when the new brand strategy has been properly implemented that the organization will start seeing real results. From better alignment of all the disciplines and understanding your differentiators to consistent revenue growth.

For qualitative evidence, consider bringing in a market research firm and running a full Brand Health Check. Another way to calculate the value of a brand is through the methods used by brand valuation consultancies working with companies who are preparing for a merger or an IPO.

How has branding evolved, now that GenY and GenZ are gaining purchasing power?

“Reinvent” is the word I often use when advising clients. To see sustainable growth over an extended period of time, brands can’t afford to focus exclusively on their existing customer base. To go after younger customers, brands typically reinvent themselves by changing their logo and packaging to something younger and more colorful. Then there will be targeted social media campaigns, online marketing and the application of digital technology to meet this audience where they are - online.

I’ve noticed that today brands are more proactive, flexible and adaptable than ever before. Instead of going for a major rebrand every few years, rebranding happens more frequently and less abrasively. These changes may be very small and difficult to pinpoint but they are a part of a specific and calculated strategy. 

It is like looking into the mirror every morning. Even though our faces are no different from the day before, in actuality we are aging everyday. 

Source: Shutterstock.

What advice can you give SMEs to help them build effective branding?

You should start with acknowledging the importance of branding strategy. I’m not saying this because I work in branding, but because if you're not investing in your brand, you are doing it wrong.

There are certain business stages where having a branding strategy is crucial; like scaling up, for example. Starting a business or stabilizing operation, on the other hand, will focus your attention elsewhere. 

Also look at your sector. In consumer goods, cosmetics and luxury goods, branding is king. In manufacturing, agriculture and healthcare it’s secondary. Depending on the industry, your money and time may be better spent on staff training or company culture development. 

Then there is the question of hiring a full-time brand manager vs outsourcing the role to a consulting agency. Before you post a job online, bear in mind that most of the time in-house efforts do not yield much fruit when the costs of having an extra person on payroll and the manpower required to implement the strategy are taken into consideration.

Thang Huynh — Managing Director, Talent Brand

Thang Huynh — Managing Director, Talent Brand. | Source: Thang Huynh.

Branding is often misunderstood or bundled together with PR, Advertising and Marketing. How do you define it?

Branding helps us answer the all-important “Who are we as a company?” question. The answer will depend on who is listening. With Employer Branding, for example, the focus is on the image of a company as a workplace, on how it is perceived by the employees. Under that umbrella, branding is everything that defines, positions, expresses or helps us achieve brand-related goals such as enhancing brand awareness and popularity. 

How do you capture and understand market trends to build effective branding?

You build an effective branding strategy by crunching data, so to capture and understand market trends, you should be guided by research. With Employer Branding, for example, the data that needs to be regularly collected and analysed are Brand Health ,Talent Insights and Future Forecast. 

Source: Shutterstock.

What are the metrics that define a successful branding campaign?

Depending on the goal of the branding strategy, the metrics will fall under one of these categories: 

Financial Metrics: Brand valuation, ROBI (Return on brand investment) and branding costs

Non-Financial Metrics: Aware, Appeal, Ask, Act, Advocate -- aka the 5A model, as seen in Philip Kotler’s book ‘Marketing 4.0’. 

How has branding evolved, now that GenY and GenZ are gaining purchasing power?

From the point of view of Employer Branding, branding has evolved in three ways: 

  • Focusing on promoting harmonious diversity and creating brands that respect and foster individuality. 
  • Fostering complexity and flexibility through many different touch-points and moments of interaction. 
  • Encouraging cooperation and active participation by candidates, employees, former employees and other stakeholders. 

Source: Unsplash.

What advice can you give SMEs to help them build effective branding?

1. Employer Branding is not the only way businesses can talk about themselves. SMEs should open up, learn market trends and listen to the insights from their employees in order to build appropriate strategies. 

2. Quantitative data is essential for an effective strategy. SMEs should have both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis in the process of building and implementing their employer branding strategy. 

3. Regular updates and adjustments are necessary to ensure the strategy stays relevant and fresh rather than just pursuing the original plan even after many factors have changed. 

Adapted by Tran Lim.

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